Sunday, 27 May 2012

In which I bring a tender issue out in the open

Do your thighs meet in the middle? If not, then feel free to click on, maybe to a cake blog - though you might like to hang around anyway and take notes for future reference.

If your thighs DO meet in the middle, then welcome, friend! This is a circle of trust. There will be no mocking here; no pointing and laughing. Together, we're going to finally bring a topic out in the open. It's not glamorous or sexy, but it has gone unspoken in society for far too long now and needs to be given a good airing - quite literally, because the topic is inner-thigh rubbing. BOOM. There, I said it.

I remember the first time I ever spoke about my summer affliction. I was 18 (that's 18 years of silent wincing and secret Sudocrem application on beach holidays, folks) and in Paris with two friends for a post A-levels holiday. It was July, it was boiling, and as skint students with a moderate fear of foreign public transport systems, we did loads of walking. Because it was our first time in Paris we'd decided to dress as we imagined people who had cool, romantic encounters in Paris dressed - mainly floral sundresses from Dorothy Perkins - and, it being boiling and the footless tights revolution of '05 yet to kick off, we were bare-legged. 

After about two days of sweaty traipsing round le hotspots touristique, one of us bravely brought it up. I don't remember which one of us it was, but it would have gone a bit like: "Do your… um, I mean… does it hurt when… like, y'know… are your legs a bit… raw?" "YES!" we shrieked back in glee. And then we realised we were normal, and it was a beautiful moment. Even more beautiful was that we solved the problem together by cutting off pairs of nude tights into comfort shorts, and wore them merrily underneath our frocks for the rest of the week. C'est le mode de Britannique, innit?

(other anti-chafing products are available)
Since then, I've been on a mission to bust the taboo. Because like IBS and those single, wiry hairs that start growing out of your neck in your mid-20s, it's something that bloody loads of people experience yet NOBODY TALKS ABOUT. If ever mentioned at all, it's dismissed as the preserve of the Seriously Fat (see: 'chub rub') - not fairly average, size 12-14 legs like mine. Every summer I watch women with thighs no smaller than my own, cheerfully strolling about with legs al fresco, and truly not understand how they're doing it.  "Is it Lanacane?" I want to bellow after them from the ice cream queue, "Or do you have special frictionless skin? How do I get some? ENLIGHTEN ME."

But the most likely truth is that while these ladies are all smiles and freely wafting chiffon on the outside, they're secretly nipping off to the loo every half hour to whack a bit of hand cream on the damage and sit with their legs apart, quietly groaning. If we're all suffering, sisters, then why must we do it in silence? It's possible that the reason our olden-day counterparts always wore stockings wasn't the damned patriarchy, but avoiding an uncomfortable incident on the way to the hat shop.

From time to time though, I'll find myself in a thigh-rub 'safe space' and be able to discuss it openly. My flatmate coined the term 'lady-rubbage' at uni after a particularly chafe-y summer walk, and it has been a source of endless debate and cosmetic experimentation ever since. Is the desirable result, we ponder, dry skin that doesn't grip, or, um, lubed skin that doesn't rub? "Before we ever talked about lady-rubbage, I used to take a little container of talc out with me everywhere," admits another friend. Noted.

Of course, one option is just to keep your tights on for 12 months of the year - and believe me, if body temperature and comments from strangers weren't a consideration, I'd be all over it. But the best solution I've found in recent years is rocking a natty line in brightly coloured cycling shorts under dresses, hopeful that they say 'on-trend 90s revival' rather than 'meaty thighs prone to friction rash'.

Rather than a solution, though, what I'd really like is awareness. Let's all talk about it, girls! Let's get Beyonce on side! Let's make it officially ok to stand up and say, "No, I can't spontaneously climb to the top of that hill because it will rip my inner thighs to shreds. Warn me next time and I'll pack the comfort shorts." Is it really such a leap?

(However, if you're all reading this thinking 'sorry Lauren - it's just you…' then I'd request you kindly move on and we will never speak of this again. Thank you.)


  1. This sounds dreadful! You poor thing! Maybe invest in a few pairs of nice shorts instead of the summer dresses? x

  2. In the kindest possible way, that's kinda the point Rose - we want to have the option to wear shorts AND dresses. To not put a pretty floaty dress/skirt on for the summer and be wincing in pain 10 minutes later, knowing it will have to be endured for the rest of the day..

    I'm so glad you posted about this Lauren! I've had this problem since my teens, and my thighs are just normal size/shape (like you, size 12-14). I have no idea what larger ladies do, it must be torture! I've never thought of cutting nude tights into secret shorts though - genius!

  3. YES. Oh my life, I spent 12 hours walking round Starford-Upon-Avon in a summer dress with three stick thin, no-rubby-legs-girls in 2008 and it was the most painful day of my life. Even childbirth won't beat it, I bet.

    Cutting off nude tights? Does that really work? If so, I am ALL over it.

  4. I have been really struggling the past few weeks now the sun has come out and I am currently rocking cut off tights under my maxi - however it's not ideal.

    M&S have some cotton type cycling shorts in their 'shapewear' section which look like they might be worth a go and nice and breathable as well..... other than that, I'm stumped.

    Have tried Lanacane (sp) but it doesn't really help much and talc only really works up to a certain point and then you end up re-creating the scene from Friends where Ross can't get his leather pants back on.

    Other than that, it's nude tights which Middleton has made slightly more fashionable again...although I'm yet to find reasonably priced ones that I don't rip into holes and aren't too air hostessy!

  5. I'd never thought of using creams or talc. I'd just stopped wearing skirts and dresses when I was about 15 cause it was just too painful.

    I'd lost a load of weight last year and the rubbing got much better, but now I've put the weight back on. Cause I'm used to wearing skirts again, I've been wearing cycling shorts under them like you suggest.

    Pinky, I just bought 2 pairs of the M&S shorts on Friday and am very happy with them :)

  6. The thighs! The wiry neck hairs (WHAT GIVES SERIOUSLY IS THIS MY BEARD DO I HAVE A BEARD NOW OH MY GOD I HAVE TO MOVE TO A LEPER COLONY)! I love you and I love this blogpost.

    Love. Actual LOVE.

  7. Oh my God, yes. I'm so with you here. Love this. I've an abundance of cycling shorts, but I'm getting married in 4 weeks time and cycling shorts don't really make for sexy wedding lingerie. I'm going to have to sit still all day or slather myself in lard. Wish me luck!

  8. I would like to come out as a rubber and also ask if anyone ever gets a SINGLE THICK, STUBBY BLACK HAIR GROWING OUT OF THEIR CHIN? So satisfying to tweeze out - but at 27 it makes me feel like a menopausal Desperate Dan. It can't just be me, right? Right?