Published on July 8th, 2015 | by Em Dash2
Your Feet Are Fine: Female Bodies and Sports
I read an excellent interview with Amanda Bingson, the total badass Team USA Track & Field hammer thrower in ESPN The Magazine‘s 2015 Body Issue. I’m so psyched that she’s out there in the world helping represent the huge range of athletic female bodies. But something from the piece struck me like…well, like a hammer.
“You have all this weight just hanging on the edge of your fingers, and with the velocity coming around it, it just destroys your hands. I get manicures every two weeks on my ugly hands and I’m all apologetic: ‘I know my hands are disgusting. I throw stuff. I’m sorry.'”
This stopped me dead. I’ve said this exact thing about my feet, which have been destroyed by roller derby and my (former) habit of wearing high heels. And I’ve heard it from pretty much every derby player I’ve ever talked to about feet. Don’t look at my feet. They’re so ugly. I can’t wear open-toed shoes. Etc. etc. etc.
What does it mean that women who are tough and strong and doing incredibly cool things are apologizing for how we inhabit our bodies and the marks that leaves on them? That some mothers are ashamed of their stretch marks and the weight they gain when they’re pregnant with their children?
It took hearing it from someone else to make me realize how unacceptable it is to me that I’ve internalized this idea that I need to look a certain way. I both love what my body can do and sometimes hate that it doesn’t look “perfect” the way magazines and TV define that word. But that concept of perfect is a wall we all build one brick at a time. All of us are responsible for tearing that wall down.
I was psyched to get further in the article, where Amanda says:
“I’ll be honest, I like everything about my body.”
Me too, Amanda. And all the scars, the lumps, the tweaks, the missing toenails, all of that is a record of what I’ve accomplished and what I can do now. I’m going to strive to like everything about my body, too. It’s not perfect. It’s lived in. And that’s just great.
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