About a year and a half ago, I got into CrossFit. Once I did, my body started to change very quickly and everybody around me started to notice, having opinions, and sharing these with me. Many were thoughtful, even encouraging, but I was surprised to find that some were actually very insulting and degrading. These are some examples of questions and comments that I have encountered and continue to encounter consistently, that makes me uncomfortable and honestly, just really angry. I know a lot of female athletes around me get similar comments and questions and they feel the same. So I wrote this mainly to spread awareness.
1. You look like you’re pretty strong… for a girl.Giphy
Yes, I am pretty strong for the average person you see walking down the street on a daily basis, but for a GIRL? Really? I get it, my muscles intimidate your non-existent ones, but why do you have to make this a gender thing? You get muscles by working hard, period. I work hard.
2. Can I touch your muscles?Giphy
Um… No, you cannot touch my muscles. I honestly think that is so rude. It is my body, asking me if you can touch my muscles is like asking me if you can poke my butt. Absolutely not! Why would I be comfortable letting strangers just up and touch me? So, unless the person offers you "Would you like to touch my muscles?" (although they probably will not) don't ask. Period.
3. Flex! (in a crowded place).Giphy
Listen, I don't feel comfortable flexing in the middle of a crowded restaurant while everybody is looking at me like, "What is wrong with her?" or rolling their eyes at me like, "What a show-off." I am super proud of my biceps, but there's no need to show me off like a pet monkey that just learned a new trick.
4. I can do it! It’s heavy.Giphy
Honey, I lift 100 pounds on the daily, I doubt that's what a pack of water bottles weighs. When you tell me, you can do it because it is "TOO heavy" you are not being nice, you are not asking politely if I need help, you are underestimating me, and belittling me. I am a strong, independent woman ok? I am sure you can see that, so if you must, ask if I need help, but I most likely will tell you I've got it, because let's be honest, you and I both know I've got it.
5. Your hands are SO rough!Giphy
Yes, yes they are. Because I work them hard. That is what hands were made for, for working hard. I don't want weak hands, I will take my callus covered, scared hands any day if that means I can climb a rope and lift a barbell efficiently without feeling any pain. I mean let's be real, with tough, all terrain hands, I'll probably live longer than you if any sort of havoc breaks loose, so who's really winning here?
6. Did your dad teach you how to lift?Giphy
No, but I can teach him if he wants me to. Feel like banging my head on something when people ask me this.
7. Don’t get TOO big, ok?Giphy
What in the HELL is TOO big? I am not afraid of getting "too big", if that is what it takes for me to become the best I can be at my sport. When you tell me "Don't go getting TOO big ok?" It feels like you are telling me to just up and quit when I'm "good enough". Absolutely not.
8. But you don’t want to look like HER right? (To your favorite female athlete).Giphy
So what if I do? How is that any of your business? This is one of the ones that boils my blood the most honestly. I understand that when people around me that love me say things like this, they are trying to protect me from the bias of the world that taunt the fruit of my hard work. (my gains) But hey grandma? I'm not a delicate little flower, I can take anything people have to say about how I look. I know what worries you the most is how men are going to see me, "No man wants a women that is stronger than him" right? But I have faith in the fact that the right man will, in fact, he will be proud of me, and my hard work, just like you should be.
In all honesty, it just really bothers me when people have opinions on or feel like they have the right to tell me what I should or should not do with my body. Having muscles is normal, having muscles is beautiful, and sexy, and empowering. Girl, if that's what you are into, good for you! Personally, my muscles make me feel safe, strong and prepared for whatever life throws at me.
Your comments are not only unnecessary, they are hurtful, but that is all they are, they won't make me change the way I am. I won't let them make me love myself less, or be less proud of my accomplishments. I am not going to lie, I have had moments when I doubt myself when I find myself asking "Should I really be lifting this heavy? I'm going to get too big." Because so many people around me make me doubt my process with their opinions of how things should and should not be.
But I say no! You don't get to decide, none of you do. There is no such thing as a 'role in society" for me. I decide, not you. I am proud of myself and what I have accomplished, and so should every strong woman out there. Nobody has the right to take that away from you. Girl, you lift the heck out of that, you go for it, don't be afraid, be whoever you want to be, look however you chose to look if it is what will make YOU happy.