When workdays are spent elbow-deep in pâte brisée and seasonal produce, it consumes you. Simple words that a non-pie person would glance at and clearly understand conjure a different scenario to an individual fixated with fruit and crust.
Quickly scanning my inbox, I could have sworn the e-mail posed the question, “How do you feel about your Pies?” This instantly captured my attention, edging out Christian Mingle and ProbioSlim. On closer inspection, it appeared to be some sort of food related survey. Why else would the word ‘thighs’ have been tossed into the mix? My thoughts instantly turned to a popular restaurant on the Lower East Side (and also in Williamsburg) specializing in Southern cuisine. Assuming the questionnaire had something to do with Zagat or Urbanspoon was short-sighted as I quickly learned. My response and the reply that followed catapulted me into an adventure of photojournalism with a side order of thighs. Mine.
I might as well live in a pineapple under the sea because the expression “thigh gap” is not part of my vernacular. However, in our obsessively size zero culture, women think about, even agonize about this topic. Say the word ‘thigh’ and I’m fixated on a buttermilk marinade spiked with hot sauce, followed by a double-dip of flour and matzoh meal.
In replying to the aforementioned e-mail, I indicated my disinterest in what Jessie always referred to when frying chicken as the ‘second joint.’ As for my personal thighs tucked beneath my commercial white apron, rarely do I give them a thought. I was thinking about them a few days later however, when my baker’s legs and thighs climbed aboard NJ Transit. Swiping my Metro card in the direction of lower Broadway, I arrived at the offices of The Huffington Post.
Suffice to say that two dozen women (plus one baker) had agreed to participate in a photo essay weighing in on the topic of thigh image. We were a group of various ages, sizes and occupations. The woman being photographed ahead of me epitomized bendy and stretchy; she was a yoga instructor. Waiting just outside the studio, I could hear every exchange between subject, photographer and journalist. It was a surreal reminder of days gone by, sitting in a hallway on a folding chair waiting to audition. When you try to focus and overhear the person ahead of you reciting your monologue. In this instance, seated on a comfy sofa I listened and reasoned. Clearly this woman is capable of downward dog, but can she bake a cherry pie?
Ushered into the studio, not-so-subtly tripping over power strips and barely toppling backdrops and reflectors, it was time for my close-up. The man behind the camera and the woman behind the words were extremely patient and generous, explaining the importance of using photos that were unretouched. I was on board with that. Except when learning that all of the photo subjects were to be barefoot. When you photograph the toes of a runner, there is no good side. The click of the camera shutter helped drown out the cracking of my knees. Echoing in my head were the comments of the previous photo subject, all about strength and power and flexibility. Barefooted with my toes hugging a black mat, there was a hint of dance audition in the air. Step, touch, step, touch, turn and turn, stub toe and again. Clearly there would be no callback for me.
The following day, a new email arrived thanking me for participating in the photo shoot. Subjects were asked to sum up our feelings about our thighs. Reflecting on the part of my leg south of hip and north of knee triggered an honest yet succinct response. One week later, the post went live. Thoughtfully penned by staff writer Rebecca Adams and beautifully captured by photographer Damon Dahlen, there was nary an airbrushed photo amongst the crowd. In my mind this called for celebration.
Seizing the opportunity to recognize my new found thigh-lebrity amidst a small flock of admirers, I rounded up Mr. Sweet As Pie and telephoned Blondilocks. Master/Master was unable to join us from his post in Nantucket, but was there in fried chicken and waffle spirit. Destination? 43 Canal Street, aka Pies n’ Thighs.