strong.

Womyn, please permit me a Sunday-morning brag: I just walked by a full-length mirror, naked,* and realized that people might actually buy a workout DVD** if I was on the cover. All I need is a spray tan.

Here’s what I’ve spent the last three years developing: Thick, powerful quadriceps muscles. Veins running upwards from my pelvis, fanning out towards my obliques. Matching veins in my biceps. Fourteen-inch calves that can raise over 300 pounds. Knotty forearms.

Here’s what that requires: Good genetics. Five to eight focused hours a week in the gym. Four to five small meals a day, all of which include high-quality protein. Never having given birth.

Here’s what that requires: A sizable dollop of socioeconomic privilege.

I don’t make much money. But I do have an education (partly underwritten by my family) and a racial/class background that lets me go into Whole Foods or CrossFit and feel I belong. Even if I have to use a credit card to cover my organic salmon or my $120/month membership fee, those things are still accessible. I don’t live in a food desert, and things will improve financially if I can keep working hard. I don’t share the lifestyle of the lawyers and dentists I do flying burpees and toes-to-bar with, but I feel equal to them because I had opportunities to go to school; to read; to travel.

And, as for never having given birth? That’s the result of good sex education; access to safe, affordable birth control back when I was having sex with men; and the fact that I never had to rely on a man for financial support. No one was able to coercively impregnate me, or force me to bear a child against my will. When I didn’t want to be married any longer, I could get out.

Privilege. Luck. So much luck.

If my life had been different, my body wouldn’t look this way. And my body is a constant visual message from me, to me, that I’m strong. That — barring an accident or illness — I can take care of myself and the womyn I love. I don’t need to be afraid of any man unless he’s got a gun. I can bring in my own groceries in from the car and yours, too. My stepmother doesn’t have to worry about making it up a flight of stairs, because I can carry her. And, if I keep up this level of fitness and luck, I won’t have to depend on anyone in my old age. Dependency frightens me much more than death. And, for now, I get to walk through the world taking up muscular, confident space, thankful that my body can do what it needs to do.

I’m starting to turn a career possibility over in my mind: What if I were to get personal training certification and open up a womyn-only practice? What if I focused on womyn over 40 — the clients most trainers ignore, or simply put up with, because they’re not hawt enough to really invest in? What if I helped create a powerful, strong, Older Womyn’s Army, so that fewer of us have to face dependency and vulnerability as the years go by?

 

*Don’t worry, the mirror is in my house. Not at the mall or anything.

**But not a beauty magazine. Measured against that particular slender aesthetic standard, I look like a monster. Good.

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16 thoughts on “strong.

  1. Rock on! Miss p

    Did a bit of triathalon back in the 80’s. Calf pressed the entire weights, plus the machine!

    Received education via tennis full ride.

    Staying fit is as important to me as obviously it is to you. So…….

    it pains me to admit that today, on my 50th birthday, my whole right side is swollen as well as my lower back and pelvis from thinking I could put my shoes in my clips going UP a hill on my bike. Frankly, I have never done anything so stupid during a workout.

    On a good note, Sea and the kid had a great belly-laugh when I came home with twigs, dirt and a various assortment of nature on my bike and body bits. But damnit! I finished my ride!

    My diet is to eat anything I want in moderation.

    Do you compete?

    Thanks for am important post.

  2. Chonky! 🙂 Happy, happy birthday!

    Bummer re: the swollenness, though. Time for an ice bath and a bowl of high-end gelato (at least that’s what I’d go for). My diet is pretty much anything in moderation, but I’ve lost all taste for junky/processed non-food. It’s just another tool of the patriarchy.

    No competing as yet — just with myself. CrossFit has an Olympic Games type event, but they push themselves so hard that someone always gets hurt and has to drop out before the competition. Injuries scare me — when I’m hurt, I can’t work out, and I get very anxious and stir-crazy. Do you compete? Also, yay for tennis!

  3. Competing with yourself is not something everyone is comfortable with. Personally solo events works better. Singles vs. doubles in tennis. Relying on yourself to win or lose the match gets me kinda high.

    In college, we played against other Division I schools, quite competetive indeed. When playing junior tennis, you just saw the worst of the worst in parental units (as far as sports). Many a poor girl person being totally humiliated by her overbearing family.

    Played satellite tours for a while, never made a living due to surgery on my wrist. Taught tennis and made a good salary. Golf was my second passion, you compete against the course not another person. Taught golf to a bunch of rich brats at a private school for a while.

    I didn’t want this to turn into all about me, me, me. Your abs sound amazing! not many fabs can say they carry a 6 pack. Your genes are impressive. So you evidentally have a somewhat healthy profile, your family live long lives then?

    Guess your new nickname is FAB AB 😉

  4. Nice! I’ve never been able to develop six-pack abs, even when I work them so much that my midsection is hard to the touch. I just don’t have those genes. Ditto for my other muscles — they’re big, they’re ludicrously strong (I outlift a lotta guys my size, and you know from my previous comments that I am big), but they’re not defined.

    If my life had been different, my body would not look this way.

    Mine neither! I am eternally grateful to the feminists who got Title IX passed, because I can’;t even imagine who I would be, or what my life would be like, without my strength.

    I don’t need to be afraid of any man unless he’s got a gun.

    I KNOW! Isn’t that liberating?

    My stepmother doesn’t have to worry about making it up a flight of stairs, because I can carry her. And, if I keep up this level of fitness and luck, I won’t have to depend on anyone in my old age.

    Word. (Unfortunately, I know what it is to be dependent on others already, since I cannot drive and live way the hell out in suburbia.)

  5. FAB AB! I love it! Thank you 🙂

    I’ve been very lucky, gene-wise…all 4 great grandparents lived well into their 90s; one made it to 100 (she was from a rural Grecian island and drank things like dandelion pot liquor). She also cast the occasional Greek Orthodox anti-evil-eye folk blessing, complete with hand gestures and murmuring.

    I will someday become a wizened elderly woman with enormous calves.

  6. I’m autistic, so my brain doesn’t work like yours (probably) does. I’ve tried to learn, but I just can’t handle it. Too much to pay attention to, too fast. I just can’t do it.

    I have lived someplace where it didn’t matter that I didn’t drive; if I ever live independently again I will choose a similarly pedestrian-friendly location.

  7. FAB ABS

    I’m starting to turn a career possibility over in my mind: What if I were to get personal training certification and open up a womyn-only practice? What if I focused on womyn over 40 — the clients most trainers ignore, or simply put up with, because they’re not hawt enough to really invest in? What if I helped create a powerful, strong, Older Womyn’s Army, so that fewer of us have to face dependency and vulnerability as the years go by?

    Super duper idea! Let me know when you offer stock options.

    Indeed you have a genetic history of basically outliving most diseases. Sounds like one interesting grandparent there. Did you have a chance to know her?

    So important for mature fabs to take care of their bodies. With the state of political affairs not giving the strong hand to the not so lucky or fortunate ladies, I really worry about health care and dwindling choices for making a living. Your idea of creating a business is right on, no dependency hopefully on a lending institution. Just can not trust them.

    During the 80’s, many fabs went to nightclubs to mingle and maybe find a date. No internet and being a lesbian was not quite as accepting as it is now. Of course a major bow and curtsy to the magnificant fabs long before then to pave our way. Anyway, back to the bar scene. Many partied 5 or 6 nights a week, being in a smoke-filled atmosphere, not getting enough sleep, not eating well. I’m sure this lifestyle has taking its toll on many of them.

  8. I would like to build muscle like you have done, but at least I get enough activity that I can still do a lot. Because I do, as I age, I am stronger than many women and some men my age. But that’s mainly because they are so weak.

    No one in my family was particularly athletic, but the women have tended to be long-lived. They were independent spirits and stayed interested and interesting until near the end. They exercised their minds and talents. One grandmother was a voracious reader and wrote poetry. Nearly all of them cared about pursuing their mental interests/talents more than they cared about how they looked.

  9. I did know three of my great-grandparents well, especially the dandelion-pot-liquor drinking grandmother. In an odd twist, her first name was Panagiota — pronounced “Pana-yoda” — and because she looked EXACTLY LIKE YODA, huge ears, beady eyes, and all, I thought as a child that “Pana” must be a title or an honorific, e.g. “Mrs.” or “Lady” Yoda.

    I’ve often thought about the bar/smoking lesbian lifestyle, and how it might connect to the current (rather dismal) state of overall lesbian health, especially in women over 50. I think there’s a solid link. The Internet is an improvement in many ways, but then again, all the butt-sitting! The lack of real human contact! And the meeting of womyn online who turn out to be batshit crazy! At least in a bar, you can pick up the batshit crazy vibe before you invest any real hope that you’ve found The One.

  10. Caring about interests and talents is a major ingredient to a happy life at any age, I think…but especially post-retirement. If a person has relied on looks all their life, they don’t know what to do, or what they’re really worth, when those looks fade. It’s worse for womyn — so many years of being told and internalizing that we ARE our faces; we ARE our bodies.

  11. A striking sight, Pana Yoda was. Bat ears she had; old-country Greek she spoke.

    I was 13 before I realized that not all elderly people were like this. I thought that once you hit 80, you automatically became foreign and unintelligible, and you had to start wearing a black veil. Please see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” for details.

  12. That is exactly why I love running.. I’m a broke grad student at the moment but can’t wait to get back into weightlifting as part of my routine.

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