Friday, December 14, 2012

Woman Athlete or Freak?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

What do you consider athletic?  What do you consider muscular? And freak like? And then, why?
I work very hard at attaining and maintaining the physique I want, actually, the one I am striving for, you see, I haven’t gotten there yet!
Lately I have been thinking about people’s perceptions of me, of my look, and that of other women who train and why people perceive us the way they do.  I honestly don’t care what people think of me, whether they approve or not, but it is a curiosity to me as their actions impact me.
I don’t think I look super muscular, and am trying to gain even more muscle, but to many I look like a "freaky bodybuilder".  People stare and comment and when I ask my husband why, he tells me that my arms and back are huge, and when I look at them I just don’t see that (well the back maybe...).  He and I have different perceptions of what exactly is muscular, like everything else in life, there are many shades of gray.
I have had an increase in the number of people contacting me with questions about my body, my training, my lifestyle. By email, Facebook, my blog, and several other sites my blog is published on. Mostly men, but many women too.  Some are complimentary and tell me I am inspirational;  some want to know how to get bigger or leaner;  some want to know how I “do it all”, work full time, have a family and train and compete; some are "followers" of muscular women;  some are individuals with muscle women fetishes;  and some, some are what you might call stalkers.
I don't encounter much of this at the gym, I have a good time interacting with people who enjoy the same pursuits, although I must admit, they are almost all men. I guess that's where "we" congregate...birds of a feather flock together right?
Is it athletic attractiveness, freak show or fetish?
I was driving into work thinking about this, and what makes me, or anyone like me such a curiosity to others? I think I am just a regular mom and wife who happens to have a passion for weight training.  This passion has changed my body to what it looks like today. I thrive at the gym, I cannot recall a time when I didn’t want to go, ever.  I love waking up and knowing that’s what I get to do. I feel alive, accomplished and healthy.
Instead of sitting around watching TV or shopping or drinking in a bar, I lift weights. Real freaky right?

Lock the kids up! The freak has arrived and she might teach them how to squat!

People always want to know when I started; why did I start; how do I do it every day?  How to I stick to a clean diet most of the time? I love to chat with these people and hear their stories and how I inspire them.

Oh believe me, I get many other interesting questions too, many I don't really want to repeat. Some of it gets downright creepy at times. I realize that I have lots of pictures out there with little clothing, but I walk around the gym like this, so why would it be a big deal on the Internet? You can easily find many other sites that are designed to be provocative and are not related to training at all. 

I started my blog to answer all the questions about training and diet and competing, about how I learned to be successful. It seems to have morphed over the years, just as I have.

But why am I such a curiosity?  Why do so many people find muscular women so odd, like they are freaks of nature? If you think about it, a freak is the woman who does not exercise, who eats packaged garbage and remains weak and frail. Why is that not the freak?
I exercise, I eat right and have taken the time to learn which foods and nutrients create an aesthetically pleasing body, one that shuns body fat and thrives on muscle growth; one that functions at its optimum everyday; this to me, seems normal.
I don't do this for anyone but myself. I don't think I am going to get my "pro-card", I am not a trainer, so why would that matter? I have no illusions about becoming a model or landing a supplement endorsement contract.
I am 51 years old for goodness sake...

I do it for me and me alone. I love to lift, I love to feel good, I love to look good.

But I still wonder all the time:

What's all the fuss about?