“Puffy-faced” Ashley Judd laid the proverbial smack down on critics recently, to which I responded from the other end of the cyberverse with a hearty punch to the air and a resounding “in yo face bitchez!”
From this, was a haunting reminder of a similar issue I have tangoed with all my life.
The female body.
Growing up in the Caribbean, the “coca-cola bottle shape” reigned with sensuous superiority. As with Latin America, parts of Europe, and other splashes on the global design, curves are synonymous with fertility, vitality, passion and lure. All the things that make a woman womanly right? Wrong. All the things that make a woman more of a thing, or a ting and less of the influential woman that she is, atop those sturdy legs of hers. But it took me a while to learn this.
Cursed with the blessing of a high metabolism, lanky limbs and ectomorphic genes, I have spent the majority of my life being a twig. Scrawny, “magga”, flat and toothpicky, and generally deemed unattractive by my male counterparts. Compounded by very short hair, I spent most of my early teen years being mistaken for a boy. In a society that drilled into me that I just wasn’t “womanly” enough, I ate the fattiest of foods in hopes that I would somehow develop the curves that would ascend me into this private club of bombshells stupifying men with the faintest twist of a hip.
In these years, I migrated to Canada. Now in North American territory, I was surrounded by girls who starved themselves in order to become “sexy.” WHAT? But I– What the hell was going on. I spent all these years trying to get “thick” and now you tell me I should be thin?? And not just thin! Meatless. Buttless. Thighless. You show a smidgeon of curvature and you are FAT!
Swimming through the murky waters of the physical female identity, I spent years learning that the checklist of qualities a woman must have changed faster than a stripper working double duty. Hair this length, this colour. Serum to make eyelashes that much longer. Boobs big, waist small, the ideal form being presented to us by a Mattel factory belt. 36-18-33. Do they know that Barbie can’t stand up on her own? Oh wait, of course they do. It seems that this is what they want. Docile, attractive arm candy, that needs support to keep her upright.
In my own quest for Adonis status, I have discovered strength. Muscle mass, toned physique, abs, hamstrings, biceps. My relationship with the Body, and the female form, has led me to decide I want to represent myself physically, the way I feel mentally. Which is what we of the fairer sex tend to do anyway, with fashion, with grooming, a first impression is all that much more important for us, than it is them. I have found a harmonious relationship with fitness, where I can develop curves of a different nature.
Until I hear, “Oh my god, she looks so manly.” More criticism, yay. There are many women who tote the motto that Strong is the new Skinny. And without fail the critics come running in to bash women with visible muscle definition, calling them “unfeminine” and “manly”. I didn’t realize men were the only ones with muscles.
If you’re curvy, they’ll find something wrong with you. If you’re skinny, they’ll find something wrong with you. If you’re muscular, they’ll find something wrong with you. We just cannot seem to catch a break.
I have come to realize the only way to win at a game specifically rigged to see you lose, is to walk off the field. Removing oneself from the equation. I’m going to keep lifting these weights. I will finally feel just as strong outside as I do inside. And if they have a problem with me, I welcome them to come say something to my face.
I doubt they will.