When my friend posted this photo on his profile, my first reaction was nice picture. But less than a second after that, I saw something and did not re-post it. My reaction sparked something in me and I had to go hunting into my past to understand why.
Once upon a time, I played competitive basketball. I was 13/14 years old when I started doing so, practicing 6/7 times a week, just to perfect my art and get playing time. Also because ball is life. Anywho, before playing basketball, I was what they call a ‘tomboy’. I still do not like that phrase (check out my article The birth – Boxes to see why).
Back to this photo. See, because of my love for sports and physical activities from a young age (if you have an older brother you understand), my muscles have always grown ‘differently’ from most girls my age. I remember people, especially girls, usually pointing out that I had huge muscles. Now because of my character, I usually brush away things that do not uplift me or better my life. So I shrugged their comments off. But upon further reflection, I have discovered that these comments about my muscular arms and body made me self conscious to a degree.
I was not proud of my arms because they were toned as I was made to believe that they looked like guys’ arms. These arms that enabled me to dribble the ball and make baseball passes on court. These arms that enabled me to lift heavier objects. These muscles that made me an outstanding athlete for around 10 years of my life, were a disappointment. Only because people pointed out how muscular they were compared to other females.
Roughly 8 years ago, I moved to Canada, and as i was dancing, a photo was taken and there were my muscular arms again. Man were these arms inconveniencing. I definitely did not want them to look like a guy’s arms because then guys would not ask me out since I was muscular and did not fit the stereotype of pretty feminine girls. A friend however, looked at that picture and said, “Man Mariam!! I love your arms!! I wish I could get arms like yours. And another chimed in”.
Guys, that one comment unlocked something in me that I did not even know was locked. That one comment made me fall in love with my arms. Now I do not know if it was because of the current gym wave, where people women inclusive, are all about being toned and getting six packs. Or maybe my eyes were just clouded because of the reactions to my arms that I received when growing up.
Needless to say, that one comment redirected my focus. It made me realize that I had been bashing myself for years for being ‘muscular’, something that I was not even aware I was doing. Something that CHANGED from that day. I then started wearing sleeveless shirts more and became less conscious of my body. My first consolation was that people wanted arms like mine. To them, my arms are ‘goals’. But when this picture surfaced (it was from last week btw), I noticed my reaction and decided to FULLY appreciate my arms and my toned body.
I decided to appreciate the fact that these arms are a sign of my strength. My calves are a blessing as I do not even have to do leg day. Lmao!! I love my strong back and my toned tummy (6 pack where you at though)? My body being toned and muscular is A-OKAY!! I then decided to put these thoughts on ‘paper’ because to me, it makes them real. Expressing them from my mind and into the world makes the situation real and personal. It is as if blowing breath into my vulnerability. And through it I become aware and seek for my strength. This is also important to me at this time because I am learning to communicate. But by sharing this, I believe it is a start. Maybe one day I will share this with more of my friends.
Thanks for reading and remember, LOVE YOU! ALL OF YOU!! Let No One affect your self worth :). And most importantly, Be Kind to Yourself!
Love and Peace,