Back in high school when I was first introduced to weight lifting and sport specific training, I began to pack on muscle which served me well as a three sport athlete. I could sprint faster, hit home runs, throw further, and all around play my sports more effectively as a result of my increased strength, speed, and agility. And since I’ve always been a tall girl (5’9), the addition of muscle made me self-conscious at first. At first, I’d field joking comments from guy friends that I could probably beat them up — which I laughed off because DUH, of course I could. Then, I remember a few well-placed comments from girls (mean cheerleaders, might I add) that I wasn’t friends with. Comments designed to cut me down, question my self-worth, and feel ashamed of being strong. Comments to the effect of being too jacked, and ones that I thankfully didn’t dwell on, but still vaguely remember.
There I was, training hard three days a week to excel in sports that I loved, and people had the nerve to critique me? Instead of worrying about what other people are doing, a good rule of thumb in life is to stay in your own lane. Was I hurting anyone? Nope. Did I get better in sports? Yep. I was training in accordance with my goals at the time and I’m grateful that I had wonderful coaches and trainers who encouraged me and helped push me. It’s possible that if I hadn’t had them in my corner, I could have let shitty comments get me down and crush my passion for athletics.
Side note: can we discuss the concept of a girl being “too jacked”? No one is out there commenting on guys’ physiques that they’ve worked hard to attain. But as soon as a girl adds even a bit of muscle to her frame, people start coming out of the woodwork expressing their concerns that she better be careful so as not to get too muscular. Look at just some of the nastiness that abounds online about female athletes who dare have visible muscle. It’s still crazy to me that even at the height of their sports, female athletes are discussed and written about in ways that people would never dream of discussing their male counterparts. Their only crime? Being too muscular for someone’s liking.
On the drive home from our softball game last night, my husband proudly told me that while he was on 3rd base and I stepped into the batter’s box, someone on the other team told the players on the field to back up because it looked like I could hit. After hearing our own pitcher tell us to step in whenever a girl stepped up to the plate, I puffed up my chest like a dang peacock and replied to Kristian, “Damn right I look like I can hit!”
It’s my hope for every girl and every woman, no matter what age they are, to embrace strength in whatever form it looks like to them. If you’re so keyed up worrying that a fitness routine will make you too muscular, you’re missing out on the whole host of benefits that come with being strong and having actual muscles:
-stronger bones (decreasing your risk of osteoporosis)
-improved heart health
-maintaining muscle mass as you age
-decreased likelihood of injury due to strengthened ligaments and tendons
-reduced body fat
-sky high confidence knowing that you are strong AF and don’t need help carrying shit thankyouverymuch
As women, the sooner we can take back the narrative that’s been spoon fed to us since birth by the media — be dainty, be small, don’t get too strong, be feminine — the sooner we’ll be able to free up all that wasted headspace to focus on the shit that really matters to each of us.
And for the record, they didn’t back up far enough. I hit a double and brought in two runs.