Here's to the Big Girls....
Here's to the girls whose weight has been commented on every move they make. Here's to the girls that no matter how big or how small they are, it's not good enough. Here's to all girls.
I was an athlete my whole life. In fact, I'm still an athlete but that's besides the point. From five years old, I spent my weekends on the fields & my weekdays at practice. I played soccer, basketball and lacrosse for my whole life and I played lacrosse in college at Tufts University. I prided myself in my athletic ability my whole life and I still do. In fact, I've built a career around being athletic & active.
My whole athletic career my weight, my height and my body have been a topic of conversation. And mostly not good conversation.
The first time my weight/size being a point of interest was freshman year of high school. Freshman spring, I made the Varsity Lacrosse team, a rare opportunity for a freshman. I was stoked but I slowly realized that part (most) of the reason I made the team was because I was tall and I was big and I could knock people down. I was signed on to play Low D, to stop people from scoring and to basically be a big wall on Low D. And that I did. I was good at low defense. I was strong, quick and agile. BUT, I was definitely NOT allowed to touch the ball, let alone take it down the field. I never had the chance during practice to sharpen my stick skills because I was too busy just doing my job, being a Big Girl.
Didn’t think anything of it. In fact, I was proud and ready to prove them right.
The next year, it was basketball season my sophomore year. I made Varsity Basketball and was delegated to the “big girls” side of the court. Otherwise known as “4’s and 5’s” or “forwards and centers.” but an easier, simpler option was just “Big Girls.” So that was the short hand. Most practices consisted of “Big Girls down to the Net,” “All the big girls, behind the line,” “One more sprint big girls.” This time, we all responded, not just me. Half the team, would respond at the drop of a hat to the phrase Big Girls.
Year after year in high school, I was considered a big girl. I didn’t think anything of it, but I think deep down it struck a chord. Don’t get me wrong here, I was never diagnosed for an eating disorder and I don’t think I had an eating disorder. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have disordered eating or body image issues.
I vividly remember desperately wanting to wear bikinis and feel hot. But I never felt hot. I felt pudgy and fat. I felt like the “ugly one” of the group. I never really had guys into me. The only time I was proud of my body was when I was playing sports. Then, then I felt strong and capable. I felt confident and powerful.
On top of that, I tore my ACL my junior year of high school. That sent me into a lot of body image issues as I couldn’t run or play sports. That was the first time I ever felt like I wanted to run. I kept having urges to walk out of my house and just run. Yet, I couldn’t. All I wanted in the world was to run and to feel strong again, but I wasn’t allowed too. The most I could do was kick ass in Physical Therapy and begin my love of the field. (More on that story here)
I also remember in high school going to tanning salons because I felt slimmer when I was tanner. I also remember beginning to take supplements that would help you boost your metabolism. Nothing crazy, nothing dangerous but definitely nothing great for me.
In college, I played lacrosse. I was told constantly that I was slower after tearing my ACL and regulated to low defense in lacrosse. My job was once again to stand at the net and take b*tches out. What can I say, I was good at it? I loved playing but it definitely made me more self conscious of my body. My freshman year I gained a lot of weight and I hated it. I felt gross in my own skin.
And then once again my body was a topic of conversation. This time, even worse than before. Because this time, I really recognized it. My coach assumed that I was massive. I was frequently reminded that I was the heaviest and tallest on my team. I was told I was probably the biggest girl on the whole team. I was yelled at for being slower one day, told I wasn’t expect to be faster the next and then thrown in with the “fast girls” just to epically fail the next day. I couldn’t tell if my coach loved me, hated me or just want to torture me. The real kicker was how my coach talked to me. She refused to give me lacrosse clothing that would fit. My coach would only let me where Large and Extra Large clothes, even when I was swimming in them. She was convinced that here was no way I could fit into anything smaller. She would tell me to get my “big clodhoppers” down to the end of the field or say how surprised she was that my clodhoppers fit in the rungs of the agility ladder.
In retrospect, the blatant call out of my bigger body is obvious. At the time, I don’t know if I was so keen.
While I am fully aware that I was never bullied for my weight and that I am not overweight or obese, I was constantly called “big.” I think in the grand scheme of things I am luckier than most other girls who are constantly judged on how they look - for one reason or the other. But at the end of the day, it’s all ridiculous.
Anyone, anyBODY can play any sport. Anyone can be the best athlete, if they put in the hard work. You don’t have to be tall to be a kick-ass basketball player, you don’t have to be stick thin to be a runner and you don’t have to be ripped to be a swimmer. The fact that anyone is ripped apart because they don’t have the perfect body for a sport is bullsh*t.
So here’s to the the big girls....
The girls who are told they are too big. Or they won’t fit in that. Or that won’t look good on their broad shoulders. Here’s to the girls who were so proud of the arms that completed pull ups today and then so embarrassed when she ripped her button up. Here’s to the girls who bust ass on the field, to be called a fat ass in the classroom. Here’s to the girls that even if they are in the best shape of their lives, think they could always “just lose five more pounds”
Here’s to the small girls: That are told they aren’t strong enough. That they are frail or weak. That they couldn’t possible lift all that. That they wouldn’t fill out that shirt. Here’s to the girls who are constantly told to “eat a burger”.
Here’s to the curvy girls.. That are told that V-neck shirt is indecent. That they shouldn’t wear that because it’s inappropriate. That are told they shouldn’t have cleavage in their sports uniform.
How about this, here’s to the girls: Who have been subjected to some judgement or assumption because of what their body looks like and not what their body is capable of.
Here’s to the girls kicking ass to feel good in their own body. Here’s to the girl that is still playing that sport even though everyone doubted she had the “perfect fit” for it.
Lastly, here’s to you girl, may you move, may you breather, may you dance, may you play, all for the sake of loving your body for where it is at right in this very moment.