Women’s health has always been a topical issue. From my experience, these issues have been about control. Controlling the food you should eat, controlling the activities you should do to still appear feminine. However, a significant variable surrounding women’s health, from my perspective, is the control of numbers. Whether it’s calories, pounds or kilos, measurements or size, these numbers are powerful.
Over the last few years I’ve engaged with a few different sporting activities, but alongside these experiences also came mental health disorders due the obsession of numbers. Bulimia, depression, anxiety, anorexia/ednos sub-type; they destroyed my whole world. Numbers ruled my life. I wanted to lose a few more kilos. Just a few more. I wanted to lose a few more inches. Just a few more. It was ingrained in my mind that if I didn’t look a certain way, then I can’t be good at sports.
Of course, the extent to which my life was controlled does not measure equally to all women, but when a powerful economy is built upon our anxieties surrounding our image, our bodies, our attraction, you cannot deny there is a problem. Girls and women go out of their way to separate their bodies from particular sports because of masculinity/femininity issues (e.g getting heavier, gaining muscle). Girls (yes, even little girls) and women go on stupid diets to be ‘healthier’. The concept of health is certainly complicated one, and the calculations of body fat, weight and muscle – and the assumptions attached to them – are still to progress. Often I see comments online such as; “I’m all for body positivity, but I mean, if your over 80kg it’s just unhealthy”, “Urgh! Too much muscle. Not feminine at all” or “Who wants a bag of bones?”.
This is where I want to scream, “WHOSE HEALTH IS IT ANYWAY?”
What should matter are your goals and how you feel mentally about your body’s performance. Do you want to squat 150kg? Then do what you need to do to reach it. Do you want to be a body builder? Then do what you need to do to reach it. Do you want to be a rhythmic gymnast? Then do what you need to do to reach it.
For myself, being part of the Valkyries is progressing my health outlook. Being part of a team which encompasses a range of body types and skills, being YOU is precisely an essential thing. So, my preliminary goal is – to rephrase Smrgol the Dragon (‘Flight of Dragons’) – to become a “honeycomb of bone and muscle”. Over the next few weeks my posts will include discussions of how my training and feelings around the body develop. Importantly, I’m working on becoming those things WITHOUT weighing myself every single morning and night. That is my goal because when I’ll be in ‘The Ride’ weight doesn’t matter, health does, and weight does not equate health.