At war with my body

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At war with my body The mind of a woman athlete is constantly fluttering with thoughts about what it is to be a woman athlete, how a women athlete should act, what she should wear and how she should look. Maybe not everyone’s mind is consumed by these thoughts, but at some point every woman struggles with the negative stereotypes about women. There I was again—out on the track, softball field, basketball court, ski hill, volleyball court—trying to prove myself. Prove that I was not just another girl who played sports. I was good, strong, unique—a pretty blonde girl who didn’t “throw like a girl” or “ski like a pussy.” I transgressed gender stereotypes, rejecting girls who fit into those negative stereotypes. Don’t ask me what I am eating again, should I eat now, does my butt look too big—thighs too beefy…how can I be a ski racer and maintain my smaller frame? No time to work out during ski season, am I getting fat? Maybe I shouldn’t eat as much. I need to go work out, let off some steam—get stronger, faster, harder, and more agile. I can lose 20 lbs.; I will still be healthy, right? But I don’t want to be too skinny, because if you’re too skinny, guys won’t like you, right?! Do my legs look too big in my G.S. suit? In the weight room—I am the only girl (as she is)—I like being “one of the guys,” but struggle when they talk to me like I am a guy. While benching 300 lbs, I hear them grunt—veins popping, sweat dripping, muscles ripped, listening to ACDC. I am running. Keep going—they’re watching. I go faster, harder. I run for 1 hour to prove myself. I max out on 210 lbs., squatting…I am strong. I want to impress them. For years and years, I try my hardest to throw like a man, run like a man, ski like a man, hit like a man, lift like a man. But, I am not a man. Leslie Heywood’s “Pretty Good for a Girl” highlights the war we, as women athletes, have with our own bodies. It stresses the fact that, “While the superstructure of women’s sports has improved in countless ways—better media coverage, more corporate endorsement of top athletes, and the breakdown of old stereotypes—the infrastructure of women’s sports remains precarious” (Heywood, xviii).
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