During my adolescence, I gravitated toward strong, muscular, badass women in the media. Looking boyish, an aesthetic I’m most comfortable with, didn’t fly with school culture, but looking muscular did. I feel lucky that during an important developmental stage in my life it was trendy for women to have muscle definition. It gave me a physical aesthetic with which to identify.
I love Jane Fonda. Not only was she strong and toned, she showed generations of women how to get that way. My sisters and I did her Work Out Challenge together. Fonda was ahead of her time.
I watched the first Charlie’s Angels movie over and over. Cameron Diaz was especially badass. Her fight scenes were powerful. The one scene where she holds a guy up against the wall with just her foot is one of my favorites.
Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies was and still is my hero. The part of Lt Ripley was originally written for a man. When they decided to cast a woman they left the part as is. I never watched her character and thought “Oh she’s acting like a man.” She was just a strong character to me, a survivor. I love survivors.
My sister Martha and I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She was one of the first characters to come along and catch my attention. The training scene made me want to train just as hard, though killing vampires wasn’t my objective.
I was very athletic during my adolescence. I played sports all year round, mostly soccer and track. I became very strong and had good muscle tone. In college, and for most of my early twenties, I climbed. That’s when I got to be my strongest. At one point I could do three pull ups with just two fingers on each hand. I felt strong, healthy, and invincible.
In 2008 I got very sick and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I lost a ton of weight and all that muscle tone. I struggled with poor health for six years. Now that I’ve figured out how best to manage my disease, I am healthier than ever. However, being sick for so long had a negative effect on my mental image of myself. I got used to telling myself that I was sick and weak, and I still believe it.
I re-watched Erin Brockovich with Julia Roberts recently, another favorite. I felt so much nostalgia for those days of strong, muscle-toned woman busting their way through the world, as well as feeling the same way myself. It inspired me to find all of these pictures of the women who influenced my teenage years, and it sparked that drive to think and feel strong again. So in May I’ve decided to take aerial classes. I will let you know how it goes!