Yesterday I read the article "Feminine Muscularity: Reshaping The Cultural Understanding of Beauty" by Alanah Joseph. Check it out here. It's a good read.
Just like the athletes in that article, I'm no stranger to having others push their ideals onto me. I suppose because I started out in bodybuilding, a highly appearance driven activity, people feel like they can comment on my body. I've heard it all: "make sure you don't get too big", "you'll lay off the weights now, right?", "you don't want to get manly looking" and "does your husband like how you look?", just to name a few.
To think that I would allow some else's opinion determine what I am capable of.
Slowly, with time and by surrounding myself with other like-minded people, my frame of mind has shifted to appreciate what my body is CAPABLE of. What my body has ACHIEVED. I enjoy working for the GOALS that I have set for myself.
Weight lifting has been very empowering for me and others in my life. Now, I'm not saying that weight lifting is for everyone. Just because those are the goals that I set for myself does not mean that those are goals that others would find empowering. What I am saying, however, is that if you're someone who eats to be skinny, who runs to be skinny, who works out to 'tone' then you are allowing society's ideals dictate what you do. You aren't setting goals that push you or show you how amazing you are. You are restricting what you are capable of and making yourself do things based on how society wants you to look.
A funny thing happens when you're too busy reaching for athletic goals. You forget to care about how small your waist is. You forget to care about how lean your body is. Instead, you look down and see strength. You look down at your body and see all of the workouts (or yoga sessions or kick boxing classes…) that you fought through. You have empowered yourself beyond anything that reaching those physical ideals would have ever done. Side note: when working so hard to reach your athletic goals you end up looking like a badass anyway...little perk ;).
A few of my suggestions for changing your frame of mind:
- Do what you love. Weight train, run, cycle, dance yoga...you love it? Do it. And do it with your whole being.
- Surround yourself with like-minded people.
- Food is fuel. It helps you come back better, faster, and stronger. Do not deprive yourself of quality nutrition.
- Set athletic goals. Here are some examples of what I mean:
- Deadlift 300 lbs
- Nail the Eight-Angle pose (Astavakrasana)
- Complete a 500 meter row in less than two minutes
- Improve footwork (boxing/kickboxing)
- Run an obstacle race
- Drink lots of water.
- Be good to yourself.
Gone are the days of: You can go to the gym, but don't get bigger or stronger or better than the boys.
Society does not set the bar of what I am capable of. Society does not set the bar of what I achieve.
I set my own bar. And when I beat it? I set it again.
Thank you for reading.
As always, feel free to comment, like and share.