I learned something quite disturbing last week. Many people I know hate their knees. Actual hate. Some of the most attractive inside and out people I know won’t wear shorts or skirts during the summer because they don’t want others or themselves for that matter to see their knees. Upon hearing one after another declare their knee-hate in a weird mixture of matter-of-fact statement and embarrassed disclosure, I felt as if I had entered a dark forest where friends I thought I knew engaged in secret rituals. It’s times like these that remind me how little I truly know about those around me.
The complaints I’m talking about were purely aesthetic. Sure, I know people who have creaky knees, replaced knees, knees that go snap. For one group of people I questioned, being able to use them was all that mattered. “They still work,” they said. And that was enough. Frankly, I would fall into this category. I’ve never considered the knees as anything other than useful. I’m pretty sure I’ve never spent any time looking at my own or anyone else’s knees. Well, I can’t say that anymore. Knowing that others think about them often enough to base their clothing decisions and maybe even vacation destinations on their feelings of low knee esteem, has made me hyper aware of what others are seeing. If I see a knee now, I really give it a stare down.
It also reminds me that at a time in the not-to-distant past, knees must have been considered to be a sensual object, since all sorts of rules and regulations were designed to keep them hidden. The people I talked to would be happy to have these laws reinstated. Maybe the Amish should use this in their advertising: Be Amish! Hide your ugly knees!
When pressed to explain what is wrong with their knees, the knee-hiders mention bumpiness or sagginess. They say their knees remind them of bruised apples, newborn babies, space creatures. I showed the following pictures of the mysterious face on Mars and the gut busting alien from Alien to some. Each person identified these pictures as their own knees. They wondered how I had snapped a photo through their several layers of leg covering.
Is this a self-inflicted problem? The result of enough flexibility as a child to stare at one’s knees too long? Damn gymnastics. Are some people’s mirrors located in such a way to bring attention to the knee? Since more woman suffer than men (in my remarkably unscientific study, at least), is it because of the time spent shaving them and thus contemplating them? Are their knee bullies that have done the damage? Are there people who find the love of their lives and leave them saying, “them knees, tho”?
A quick check of the Internet shows me that the knee-loathing runs deep in our society. Knee lifts and non-surgical tightening seem to be all the rage. The old problem of knock knees is passé. The only cool thing about that anymore is that it has a catchy scientific designation: genu valgum. Nine out of ten people would probably guess that to be the name of an Italian soccer star, though. The real problem now is called kninkles–knee wrinkles. This may be a sign that some people have run out of things to get fixed. Or it may be that science has finally caught up with a way to fix something that has troubled society for years.
I am not one to judge. I do wish, though, that everyone could find peace with their knees, to love them as they are. And for those that do judge the knees of others, I would hope that they could find something else to think about. Like elbows. Don’t get me started on elbows.
If rather than inspire you to love knees, I’ve done the opposite and given you kneemares, I apologize. A friend already claimed I had done so by drawing his attention to the ultrasound baby faces and cracked pavement and saggy nylons without nylons inhabiting the center of the legs around him. That is not my intention. Look with love. Bring knee pride to the masses.