240 Pounds and Climbing: How Powerlifting Taught me I'm a Woman that Can't be Stopped and Why You're Unstoppable Too
I grew up skinny. Bony is what they would’ve called me back home. I fit in size 1 jeans with room to spare. I weighed a whopping 106 pounds and the only push-ups I was interested in came from lingerie stores. The first time I went to the gym, I noped my way out of there. It was a noisy, smelly place where every single device was designed for specific forms of cruel and unusual punishment. I decided thick thighs and big booties were overrated and returned to my soft, comfy couch who would never try to hurt me. That was three years ago.
So how did I end up at a powerlifting meet last year, standing in front of 240 pounds, with every intention of picking it up? Well, turns out, I’m more vain than I am scared of pain, and I was persuaded back into the gym. And I eventually got used to the noise (though never the smell; deodorant people!), and I got accustomed to sore muscles, calloused hands, and bruised skin. I happily got used to the bigger legs and booty that came along with them too. But what kept me going to the gym, and keeps me going today, is the sense of power.
It is an incredible feeling to lift a weight that wouldn’t budge a month ago. It’s crazy to walk up to a barbell that weighs more than you and move it exactly the way you want to. Nothing feels better than doing things you and other people don’t expect you to be able to do. I still get a kick out of traipsing into the gym in my girly Converse and cutesy workout clothes and watching men’s expressions change from disinterest to shock when I hit the weights. The pursuit of power, power I never thought I could harness as a girl, is exactly what got me standing on that platform last February, staring down that 240 pounds. And power is what let me walk up to it, do my signature wiggle, and yank it off the ground like the boss I am.
That is the essence of girl power. No, not strength training, though I’d love every woman to discover just how much our bodies are capable of, but the determination to do whatever we decide we want to, not in spite of being a girl, but because we are girls. Because we as women are capable of extraordinary things that we’re often told we can’t accomplish.
Women aren’t strong. They can’t really like video games. They’re not good with computers. They’re awful drivers and don’t know the first thing about cars. Women are terrible at science. They’re too emotional for politics or business. Coordination and athleticism? Nope, that’s not for women. Neither is science fiction or medicine. Women belong in the kitchen, in the home, in the shadows – not in the workplace, not in public, and not in the limelight.
Thankfully, we live in a time where that message isn’t so blatant, and the obstacles we face to push back against it aren’t quite so insurmountable, but the sentiment is still very much there. A lot of people, men and women, try to limit us to those things deemed girly and appropriate for women. Don’t get me twisted: there is absolutely nothing wrong with liking stereotypically feminine pursuits. If you love baking brownies or knitting scarves, I ain’t mad at you. Because if you’re doing it well, that’s girl power too.
Girl power is taking what you like, whether it’s girly or not, and doing it amazingly. Girl power is about claiming all the things they said we couldn’t have and doing all the things they say we shouldn’t do. It’s being unafraid to be assertive because we can be bosses. Girl power is taking up space when we’re told we should be small. Girl power is pushing past our limits, not to compete with men, or anyone else,
but because we deserve to reach our full potential. So are you kicking ass, taking names, and tapping into your girl power? Girl, you better.