So, I’ve talked on this blog about body image in the CrossFit world before. But really, I think this is a topic that has a million angles. One in particular has been on my mind this week, probably because several people have commented on my body lately. Contrary to most women and girls raised in North America, I didn’t really have any body image issues growing up. My body type has ranged from so skinny that I had to wear custom altered pants to so curvacious that I have abandoned wearing pants altogether (I wish this was a joke) and lots of stages in between. I’ve always received a lot of attention from men based on my appearance – this is a side affect of being a light-skinned woman with a butt so large it probably has its own solar system by now, in a society where light-skin is idolized in the black community and where black women in general have been over-sexualized to the point that men think its socially acceptable to make comments on our bodies at will. After many years of dealing with the self-worth issues that come along with this kind of attention, I’ve gotten used to this (although it doesn’t sting any less). However, since I’ve started getting serious about CrossFit the type of attention I’ve gotten due to my body has completely changed.
Most of the men in my life have given me extremely positive feedback on my new muscles and how I look – my brothers delight in joking that I’m on steroids and have even created a new wrestling move in my honour called the ‘Melika Roid Drop’. My buddies at work joke about having to always do what I say because they’re afraid I’ll ‘set my guns on them’, and one of my body-building colleagues has started yelling out ‘Holy shoulders!’ whenever I wear something sleeveless in the office. You get the idea. But what’s really interesting is the amount of attention I’m getting from women on my body, something that hasn’t really happened to me before, particularly from strangers. Some of this is still positive – my girlfriends are hugely supportive of my CF/paleo lifestyle (even though they think I’m a bit nuts) and my gym buddies and I are constantly complimenting each other on day when we look particularly shredded. But a decent amount of the feedback I’m hearing is totally negative!
My parents returned from Antigua a few weeks ago with a letter from my Granny, with a warning to not let my new-found love for lifting weights take away from my ‘womanly beauty’. Now I’m not gonna fault my Granny, because a) she’s 87 and from a time when this kind of activity would have been completely unheard of for women and b) she’s my Granny and I love her. But I DO now have beef with a woman in my office who told me I’m ‘doing things to my body that women shouldn’t be doing’ and the lady who told me yesterday that my arms look ‘offensively muscular’. What the f*ck?? Since when was it socially acceptable for people to just make unsolicited, negative comments about other people’s bodies to their faces? If I wasn’t at work I would have had some choice words for her, not dissimilar to the words I give to men on the street who tell me I need to smile more. Calling someone’s appearance ‘offensive’ is not only insane, but unbelievably rude and mean-spirited. And once I started looking into it, I see online that tons of women have gotten negative feedback on their appearances since adding CF to their lives. I knew we were getting this type of crap from men – but from women too??? It just doesn’t add up to me – I work out in a gym filled with muscular yet incredibly womanly, feminine, sexy females with nothing mannish about them. What place is this hate coming from? By diminishing the accomplishments of strong females and demanding we conform to traditional standards of beauty, we are perpetuating the very system that beats women down on a daily basis. Not to mention I doubt all these woman actually measure up to traditional beauty standards themselves.
What do you ladies think? Have you had to deal with this kind of crap or have you managed to avoid it?
Same as Tuesday, these tacos were part of Caroline’s and my Monday Night Football Feast and were served with AGG’s tortillas, my own spicy guac, chopped tomatoes, cabbage, and fresh cilantro. Sprinkle them with a little lime juice and you’re good to go! But I encourage you to try your own topping combo as well.
1 large fillet of cod, de-boned, cleaned and sliced, whatever size you like
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder