When it comes to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's fashion choices, women often talk about her trademark pantsuits and speculate that she wears them to hide her "cankles" -- slang for chubby ankles.
The takeaway from years of public comments about her ankles is that Clinton's leg coverage has made American women fixated on their own cankles and that they're resorting to plastic surgery and new workout regimens to get narrower ankles.
The battle to get rid of cankles was a front page headline in The Wall Street Journal Thursday, which prompted this stream of pre-coffee emails from my girlfriends:
"It is a true must read. Makes me want to subscribe to the WSJ."
"Gold's Gym has declared July cankles awareness month! (although as a member, I've not been made aware of it)." and "You know who could benefit from the Gold's Gym special . . . my friend Nancy Reagan."
"On the cankles I will say knowing that my fiance's whole side of the family is plagued with them that I am not sure that some ointment and an ace bandage is going to take care of what appears to be a genetic issues."
I laugh at the mere mention of the word "cankles" -- a combination of the words "calf" and "ankle" -- but I also look down my legs and hate my own ankles/cankles. Admittedly, my cankles aren't fat -- they are muscular -- but they aren't pretty. Like Hillary, I avoid skirts, ankle-strap heels, cropped pants and short dresses.
So, I replied to the girls: "OMG -- this is terrible TERRIBLE. I have cankles -- I want lipo of the ankle so badly. Also the knees. Are there caKnees?"
I'm not sure how the plastic surgeon could cut the muscles off my ankles (oh, science, please catch up!) But since Hillary Clinton came on the scene in 1998, and we saw her cankles, I have been doing extensive stretching before and after my daily runs to try to lengthen my cankles to a more ladylike size. No luck so far.
When I read that the average circumference of a woman's ankle is about 11 inches, I got out the tape measure. My first measurement of my right ankle (assuming the right is bigger than the left, like fingers) showed it to be 8¼ inches. I figured that the 11 inches must refer to the ankle, including the bone, (which, frankly, isn't the part of the cankle that is ugly, but this is a scientific effort), and that part measures 9¼ inches. Hmm . . . so scientifically, I don't have cankles, but if you looked at my ankles, they are cankles for sure.
According to the WSJ, the wave of women hating their cankles has reached such heights that gyms are coming up with new ways to specifically tone cankles; plastic surgeons now offer $4,000 to $6,000 liposuction procedures to slim them; and shoe companies are offering special models designed to minimize them.
During the 2008 election, the hilarious Saturday Night Live parody of Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler) defending women in politics had this exchange: Palin/Fey, "So please stop photo-shopping my head on sexy bikini pictures," and Clinton/Poehler responds: "And stop saying I have cankles." LOL.
I was outted for cankle-hiding at the end of my years working for former Secretary of State Colin Powell. I had a State Department uniform of pantsuits and sensible shoes. At a summer office party at a colleague's house, I walked in wearing a sundress and was greeted with screams of "She has LEGS!" and "It's a girl!"
Hillary, we girls feel your pain. Cankles are born, not made, so we are all in the cankle canoe together.