Your Weekly Hate-Like: Canks A Lot

CANKLES TAKE 2_embedPhotographed by Heather Talbert.
Like many, I've had dreams of plastic surgery. Some hope to change the landscape of their bust, to gain a stronger jaw, or a more pert nose. But, my sights were always set on my cankles: I wanted to mold a sloping calf and a gracefully curved ankle where there now exists just a straight line. I hated my squishy, poorly defined lower legs, and, for a time, I would've done anything to change them — or at least hide them away.
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That was easy in the Wisconsin winters. Snow pants and boots are the great equalizers; they'd give even Karlie Kloss a case of the canks. But, summers were another story. I encased my gams in denim, sweating my way through the sweltering heat. My shame knew no temperature.
Yet, as we shifted into a skinny-jeans world, my embarrassment turned into denial. I'd shove my stumps into any pair of cigarette-slim denim, which was no easy feat. (Think of it like pounding a cork back into a wine bottle.) The very act of peeling off my pants left me tired, sweaty, and with seam indentations running down the lower half of my legs.
Those times when I was forced to bare my legs, I'd make them into a party trick. "Look at it MOVE!" I'd exclaim as I literally jiggled my calf muscle back and forth, in the kind of insecure, laugh-at-yourself-before-others-get-the-chance gesture we use to protect our fragile egos. It never occurred to me that no one else was laughing — or that no one even noticed what, to me, was my most offensive physical flaw. But, I noticed. I cared.
At least, until nearly two years ago. In August of 2012, I found myself sitting in a folding chair at my father's wake, wearing a cheap black dress and muddy sandals and no tights, my calf-ankles on rare display alongside my grief. Certainly no one gave them a thought, but my luscious, linear lower legs were the only things I felt like addressing at the time.
"Probst legs," my aunt remarked, brandishing her similarly silhouetted calf. And, so began our convo on cankles. Sitting there in a circle at the funeral home, my female relatives and I discussed methods of minimizing our shared malady. Compression hosiery? Calf Spanx?
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"Would it be called Canx or Spankles?" someone joked, eliciting the first laugh I'd managed to muster in days.
Besides a pretty poor sense of propriety, it seemed most everyone in my family also shared the mark of the cank — and somehow I'd never even noticed. But, sure enough, there they were: cankles on her, cankles on him. Everywhere, canks. The trait I'd worked so hard to conceal all those years was actually a symbol of the Probst clan. A tie that binds — one that I'll still never dress in a pair of high-tops, of course. Now, when I look at my cankles in all their meaty glory, it's like wearing a family crest. Which, if we had one, would certainly feature a tree stump.
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