I was 19, in a college dance class, when I caught a glimpse of my cellulite for the first time.
It may have been there for years, it may have arrived along with the Sophomore 15 (I delayed that little American ritual by one whole year), I have no idea. But I remember seeing it and being surprised.
I had been a pretty scrawny kid, then a sporty teenager, then a wildly over scheduled college student. I had totally lost any idea of what my body looked like or was supposed to look like. But I was surprised! It was new to me.
I remember asking my Mom when she first noticed she had cellulite. “I don’t have cellulite!!” she replied with mild alarm. This is when it really clarified that I do not take after my mother. She of the long thin legs, mourning that her thighs never touched (“thigh gap” is a new and stupid thing, y’all). I have my dad’s short, thick, muscular legs and long torso.
And I have cellulite.
Because I am a normal human woman.
And it is a normal thing.
Here’s what cellulite is: dimples visible on the (generally) hips and thighs due to connective tissue pulling on the skin.
Here’s what cellulite isn’t: fat, evidence you are unworthy or unattractive, a reason to cover up your body if you don’t want to, your fault.
It’s not your fault! Because nothing is wrong.
Most women and some men have cellulite. Ads and catalogues and film and TV and porn try to convince us that it doesn’t exist, but all of those can be, and often are photoshopped. Some people are born with super even connective tissue that doesn’t cause any noticeable puckering, but that’s all the credit they get to take!
Thin people can have visible cellulite and so can heavier people. Super fit people can have visible cellulite and so can people who don’t ever workout. It is not dependent on your diet, you can’t massage it away, and most (super expensive) elective procedures have a short term effect if any at all.
I was 30, and in a Crossfit gym, when I caught a glimpse of my thighs and realized I couldn’t see my cellulite anymore. And I was surprised!
I like to think of cellulite like a pair of fishnet tights. There are all kinds of weaves, teeny little squares you can barely see, medium sized squares your toes poke through by the end of the night and that big gate weave that makes me think of French cabarets. Stretch any of those over a down pillow and you’ll get a some texture showing through. Stretch any of those over a leather topped table and you’ll still get some texture showing but you probably have to look harder- even on that big gate weave.
On that day in the Crossfit gym I had turned my butt and thighs into a leather topped table. My muscles were full and tight, my circulation was good, my skin was well hydrated and I was at my lowest ever body fat. My cellulite was still there. It was just harder to see.
And barring liposuction (which can actually make cellulite appear more visible- again, remember, it’s not fat!) or injections to fill each and every dimple, that’s what can be done to cellulite. It can be made harder to see, and that’s all.
Full, dense muscles, lowered body fat, hydrated skin and good circulation help make cellulite harder to see, but it is a part of your body so it’s not going away.
Spending energy hating, or being embarrassed or ashamed of a part of the body that is yours, that came with your amazing spirit and holds your unique and incredible self inside it, is energy wasted. It is fruitless. This is your body. You are a human, and this is a part of most human bodies. There is nothing wrong with you.
If you want to do the work to tighten those muscles and reduce your body fat, and hell, even get a spray tan so it looks different and you like that- awesome! Good for you! Be happy in your skin!
But always remember, it is your skin, and loving the skin you're in will always be the fastest path to looking beautiful.
I am not that 19 year old girl anymore, and I’m not that 30 year old woman anymore either. Today, I am not surprised by what I see, I see me.