...and it began with a simple question, why?
As an adolescent, I always considered myself to be well-rounded and confident. I’d been through various transitions and understood change is only as difficult as you allow it to be. I was a believer in perspective at a very young age and at sixteen I couldn’t wait to make this particular transition in my life--I was finally going to Weaver High School. Oh yes, I was confident and had it all figured out. I was excited. I was finally going to be in a school with my neighborhood friends again--no more CT Transit, no more bus passes, no more dialects that I couldn’t understand--things were about to be familiar.
On the very first day I remember being overwhelmed by the size of the school, but took comfort in having my best friend by my side. I was greeted by old friends and introduced to new acquaintances. I thought to myself, I’m going to be “good” here. I took notice of interactions. During class changes, the third floor seemed to be the space where groups would gather to talk, laugh and “post up.” I took a listening ear into what was being talked about and how. Being in high school there was often lots of laughter at someone as a result of their appearance. What was discussed never truly bothered me until the popularity of a thicker woman became a noted trend--you know big butt, slim waist, “stomach on flat flat,” you get where I’m going. It became the standard of what women should look like. I didn’t find myself buying into the hype of the “shapely woman” until the day I walked down the hallway and him and his friend said, “yeah she alright, but I need something more. That’s a little onion butt.” Both boys proceeded with laughter. They had to be talking to me. I was the only girl who passed them both in that moment--I felt them staring at me, like they were assessing if my body was a pass or a fail. I continued walking. I tried shrugging it off. I even tried convincing myself I was unmoved by their opinion.
However, days had passed and I noticed my senses became heightened to all the commentary of what all the boys wanted. All of a sudden, I wasn’t enough. All of sudden, my gift of perspective when entering this new school began to weaken. Looking down at myself and hearing the voices that began overpowering my own reminded me that, I wasn’t any of those things--thick ENOUGH and I definitely didn’t have a fat booty.
In most spaces, I was always shorter and small in stature but, it never bothered me until now--until this unspoken standard was put on me as Black woman.
The words slim, skinny, thin, small. “Little Butt,” “Lil Bit,” began accompanying me on walks home.
The words surfaced so much it became “normal” to discuss my small demeanor and stature. It became so familiar that this was no longer an issue of stature, but a place of self-ridicule--making my voice seem smaller and in that, my presence obsolete. Sports I desired to do became something I shouldn’t do and dance was all I could do. I was accepted in the space of dance, I was loved in this space until even there my size was commented on. It always ended in a laugh and I would join to--trying to digest my own laughter while praying I could somehow silence theirs was painful--and they would never even know. I’d acquired this skill of masking and I did it exceptionally well.
This little girl, whom I still care for today, allowed one pivotal moment to define her adolescent journey--failing to see just how big her presence already was in any space she was in. This little girl who I know all too well, could never fathom that her growth would be developed in her why. This little girl who took settling as an option, would have never thought to approach a barbell. She could have never envisioned a mind totally fixated on CONQUERING all the weight which lies in front of her.
But, the woman she has become won’t let this little girl down.
The woman she has become will entrust her why with God--for He has even identified the Coach to guide her.
The woman she has become knows that every lift that is made is even bigger than herself.
For every lift that is made honors that she is more than enough.
I lift for the little girl that told herself, “I can’t.”
I lift for the doubters that said, “she’ll never be.”
I lift for the women that subscribe to the enemies plot of settling.
I lift for every girl measuring her status of self by only what she sees and hears.
I lift for the woman that I am.
I lift for the vision of the woman that God says I will be.
I lift because He has assured me,
“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13, NKJV
...and every time I approach the weight I tell myself, “You can do this. He has given you EVERYTHING you need.”