I’ve spent my life disliking my appearance. I was too tall, too chubby, slightly knock-kneed. My torso was too short. My boobs too small. My hair was too frizzy and too thin. I saw the cellulite and tummy as proof of my inability to control my diet, my lack of self-discipline, my total uselessness. In my early twenties, I flirted with eating disorders, abusing laxatives, binge eating, starving myself until I was dizzy. My idols were Kate Middleton, Nicole Kidman and ballerinas. Waif-like, thin women. Women whose body types I will never resemble, because I was born with junk in my trunk, and I have an athletic build. No amount of starvation (regardless of self-discipline) will ever turn my body into this:or this: Then I met Coach, who calls me an Amazon. He’s always called me an Amazon, when I weighed 25lbs more than I do now, and when I weighed 10lbs less. He also calls all the girls in the competitive team Amazons. Some of us fight in the <51kg category, some of us fight in the >81kg category. Some of us are shorties (5’2”) and some of us are tall (me at 5’9”). We are ALL Amazons, because Coach defines an Amazon as a strong, confident woman, who knows exactly how awesome she is, and expects everyone to find her as fabulous as she finds herself. She owns any room she walks into and people are drawn to her self-assurance. The only physical attribute that is part of Coach’s definition of an attractive Amazon is strength; her strength makes her an equal partner and ally to any man. Her strength and her confidence are what make her attractive; the details of her physical appearance are irrelevant.
I had another watershed moment due to Beaut. While he enjoys athletic girls, he also enjoys women with a voluptuous body. He posted this video one day on his fbk.
I was taken aback by two things:
- How many of his male friends clearly drooled over this video. They were rather explicit in their appreciative comments. I had always assumed that men shared the same definition of sexy as I did. WRONG.
- Just how attractive I found the model Ashley Graham, even though she does not, in any way, resemble my ideal woman. She struts her stuff with absolute confidence. She is SO sexy. Unconsciously, I had always assumed that if I had body issues (due to my inability to conform to my desired, rigid body esthetic), that any woman who deviated even more than me from that esthetic must have proportionately more body issues. I had NEVER considered, in all my 31 years, that it was possible that multiple esthetics could be sexy. That perhaps attractiveness can best be defined as an enjoyment of one’s own body. Pretty sure Ashley Graham meets Coach’s definition of an Amazon.
Lately, I’ve reached a point where I am proud of my body. Partly because I have worked extremely hard to get close to my optimal fighting weight (which is 12lbs heavier than the weight I always arbitrarily deemed to be my “ideal” weight), and as a result I am much fitter, faster and stronger. For the first time in my life, I almost feel like an athlete. I am more concerned with what my body can DO, how much I can deadlift, how long I can run, how hard I can punch, how mobile I am in the ring, how well I can sustain my cardio through sparring, than with how my body LOOKS. I am proud of my body, for how far it’s come functionally, and my physique is one perk that I definitely don’t complain about. My relationship with food has significantly improved as well: I eat to make my body feel better. Sometimes (at least once a week) that means eating chocolate and french fries. Often, however, it means meat and veggies – not because I want to be thin, but because those foods make my body feel strong and light, and help me recover from my workouts. Eating a diet filled with artificial chemicals, salt, grease, alcohol and sugars makes my body feel bloated, sore and farty. Not sexy, or fun, and definitely a problem in the ring.
I feel beautiful, even though I can still see the imperfections in my body: my crooked nose, thin hair, thick arms, short torso, knock knees, cellulite and scars are all still there, and will always be there. I recognize that my body does not conform to my personal preferred esthetic of beauty. I am aware (thanks to the male gender’s propensity to freely comment on my, and other women’s, appearance) that my look will not appeal universally to all men. But here is the thing: I no longer care. I love my body, and that is enough.