In March I performed in a new Eve Ensler play called “The Fruit Trilogy” at The WOW Festival, which involved me taking all my clothes off. It wasn’t burlesque or stripping; it was a simple and honest conversation about the vulnerability, mundanity and beauty of my body (yours too!), and it really made me fall in love with myself again, but not just the usual desirous places… All my body parts were getting a look in (and looked at!).
Each article will explore a forgotten part of the woman’s body, rediscovering beauty where it is least expected. We’re giving our neglected parts a proper airing out. Move over lips and bums, you’re superb – but today the spotlights’ off you!
Now I know what you’re thinking… at least I think I do and it’s not that! The body part I’m talking about is a little lower down and a less revered by modern pop songs. I’ve got a thing for my knees; my lovely, lumpy knees.
We’ve all got them, but how much do we love them? They’re the difficult to shave area and the parts that twinge after a long run; but I’m a convert to the knee, who’s might and majesty we overlook!
I’m not religious, but I have been to a couple of Catholic Church services and with all the kneeling up and kneeling down, they must think the knees are key to salvation, surely?! The physical position of kneeling symbolises humility and respect; traditionally a posture also used when requesting favours from a King, and subsequently tied to prayers of repentance or supplication. There is a holy halo around our knees…
‘Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!’
It’s in scripture, worshiping God on our knees, so perhaps there’s a little room to worship our knees themselves?
It seems everyone’s getting down on their knees for the really important stuff. Not just praying, but proposing: asking someone to make that lifelong promise. The engagement ring is a symbol of love and honour, and by holding the ring in an elevated position when proposing, it represents (quite literally) the higher status of love.
It is in some ways easy to understand why the knees take such a focal role, anatomically it’s the point where our body folds, making us smaller. Being knelt, becoming half our height, is a very physical way in which we can demonstrate our reverence or pay tribute, we literally diminish ourselves. In many ways it is symbolic of the human virtue of being humble, which is ironic since the ability to be humble elevates us.
If we bring the discussion firmly back to the earthly; we might look at the knee in a carnal capacity. There’s a knee fetish, also known as ‘genuphilia’. Though there’s no extensive psychological research into the twist and turns (or bends) of this newer and more niche fetish, the internet does inform us that it’s a real thing. I’m pretty keen on my knees, but some may find them simply irresistible! Who knows where love is lurking next, so take care of those knee caps and romance could be just round the corner…
Aside from the sanctified and sensual elements of the knee, there are also the strictly practical ones. I’m no doctor, but my number 1 tip for happy knees is to stay at a healthy weight. Apparently bounding up stairs isn’t great, and excessive squatting can do more harm than good. The knees are a joint after all, and they are really quite wondrous at getting us from A to B. Not just travelling, but dancing too! Who doesn’t love to let their hair down and get their ‘knees up’? A practice dating back to the Victorian times. ‘Knee’s Up Mother Brown’ was an homage/poke towards the jigging and jumping of Morris dancers and other traditional dance styles; all with a fond penchant for getting those knees in the air. I’m not entirely sure who Mother Brown was, but with connections to dancing, Cockney culture, and of course knees, I think we would have been bosom buddies! Since then, the song has been a staple in pubs and football grounds and is still very much alive and kicking. So as far as I can tell, going down on your knees is a pious act, and bringing your knees up is a playful act- Both equally enjoyable as long as you don’t get them mixed up!
Though often undervalued, there’s a sheer joy in the bog standard-ness of our knees. Even the phrase ‘the bee’s knee’s’ has developed overtime to represent the height of excellence; proof of my point! They come rounded or rickety, knobbly or knock-out, but their real beauty still lies in their understated utility. I don’t think I’ve ever considered my knees fat or thin, or worried about other people’s judgement- hoorah! In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever looked at other people’s knees and questioned their life choices, diet, drinking habits or dress. Could our knees be the best body part with the least prejudice attached? Oh God, I hope so! Let’s all find a little faith in our knees.