I saw a post the other day by a gym owner friend of mine down in Atlanta. Heidi mentioned the advantage young girls have today by having women who appear strong to look up to. This sparked another conversation with a friend of mine about body issues when we were young girls.
It got me thinking on who MY role models were growing up and how it affected my body image. I think until about the 9th grade, it was this girl…
Yup. Wonder Woman. I’ve written in the past about getting comic books on the way up to the Cabin. Damn I wish I still had those. Not because they’re worth any money, but because illustrators drew her strong and powerful without the slutty aspect she has now. But strong, she just looked strong. Big shoulders (check); small waist (I don’t know if I’ve ever had one of those though); big legs (check); boobs (check); cool airplane (when I’m on an airplane I pretend it’s invisible.) True story. I’m pretty sure I gave out some of these on Valentine’s Day too:
She was also smart and fierce. I liked that. Anyways.
Around the 9th grade, something happened to change my view of how young women should look and my body image took a turn for the worst. This:
My mom bought me a subscription to Seventeen magazine. Before that the only magazine I’d ever read was Sports Illustrated. I think she was trying to fem me up. While I was a tomboy, I still curled my feathered bangs and wore too much eye make up so I didn’t really think I needed femming up. But a style change was probably necessary since I ran around in sneakers and sweats most of the time (so nothing’s really changed.) Suddenly though, I noticed that the ideal body type (according to Seventeen magazine) was tall and thin. Two things I never was nor ever will be.
But I didn’t know that then. All I knew was short and curvy was what I had to deal with and that wasn’t cutting it. So how do I get tall and thin? Keep reading Seventeen magazine I guess. Also, the clothes. I didn’t have the clothes that Seventeen magazine said I needed to start school off right. I don’t think the models of Seventeen magazine had a Pastor for a dad (ever heard of a rich Pastor? No, Joel Osteen isn’t a pastor, he’s a celebrity. Like the Kim Kardashian of the Christians.) So what I lacked in funds I made up for in creativity by hitting the bins at Ragstock (there actually was a real Ragstock before they went into the Ugly Christmas sweater business ya know) and putting my own twist on things. Not really what my mom had in mind; however; she did like that I could buy all of my school clothes shopping for about $48.93. (I’m still a consignment shopper unless I really feel like splurging and hit the new clothes racks of TJ Maxx.)
Anyways. I neither looked like the models or had the money to support looking like the models. And that messed with me for a while. Suddenly confident Wonder Woman’ish Jules wasn’t so confident. And ya know what? That get’s my ire up. That I let those stupid magazines mess with me.
I started looking around me and compared myself to other girls. We had a few that were very Seventeen magazine. One comes to mind whose name was Kelli Ferrick. Long legs, the best Jordache and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, perfectly feathered Farrah hair. Tall. She was tall too. Of course. She may have been nice. I dunno. I hated her. She was everything that I would never be and I’m just not very proud that at one point in my life that mattered to me.
But then I went to college in Nebraska and a girl by the name of Jill Fox (her friends called her Fill Jox, I thought it was cute) saved me. Though Jill and I were on friendly terms, I never really knew her. But my college work study was in the Athletic office so I was in the athletic complex about as much as I was in class, although I actually went to work and didn’t skip like class. I got to watch many of the athletes, especially the T&Frs practice. Jill was a thrower, taller than me (who isn’t) and strong looking. Sure she was bigger than the sprinters but she just looked strong. Ahhhhh, THAT’S what used to be important to me.
Strong. Fierce and strong. Like this:
I grabbed hold of that body image and never looked back.
Oh sure, there are moments where the “I wish” game is played. In Scotland when I first ran into friend and new World Champ Mona Malec, I looked up at her and literally wondered if I were standing in a hole. WTF! I asked her if she had grown taller since Enumclaw. FoShizzle. But at the end of the day, this is what I have to deal with so I’ll try to make the most out of it. Including getting it into better shape when this season is over (six days. Six days.) That I can do, be a better me.
I never bought my daughter a Seventeen magazine subscription and when my mom asked if she should as one of Zandra’s Christmas gifts I told her no, we can find something more appropriate for my tomboy who straightens her hair and wears too much eye make up. She’s good. Has a good body image for the most part (when she was in first grade she told me once that her gymnastics leotard made her look fat. I laughed. But I let her wear a tshirt and shorts after that.) OH! I will say that it’s not my mom’s fault for getting me a Seventeen magazine subscription. So I don’t want to hear any, Oooooo so you blame your mom, bullshit. The gift came from the right place. I know that. Live and learn.
But strong is still in. It’s still worthy of being mentor to young girls. And Seventeen models? Well, at least one above did really well for herself. Until she became a drug addict and died in a bathtub. I would probably consider that the opposite of strong. No thanks.
The mark of a great sportsman is not how good they are at their best, but how good they are at their worst.