Something Completely Different: Just Do It

My recent posts have been driven by a certain rantiness related to body image and media messages about women’s bodies and shame: one that I could neither contain nor fully articulate. The feeling has been brewing for the last couple years, renewed every month when the new Women’s Health magazine landed in the mailbox. I could swear that it was once full of general healthy-living tips and recipes, and now it seems more an instruction manual on how to attract men. And it makes me want to retch and throw things every time I see it, because it’s really just Cosmo with the word health sprinkled throughout its pages. I continue to be frustrated by the failed promise of most health & wellness magazines/books/websites, wanting to buy something none seem to want to sell: positive messages about women’s health and fitness. I want the best of Runner’s World, Outdoors, Yoga Journal, Clean Eating, Blood and Thunder, and what Women’s Health used to be. But the ad-driven nature of the media industry makes that an impossible dream, I think.

Anyway :-/

When that Herbalife/McDonald’s image came out a few weeks ago, I lost my shit, seriously. I wanted to write about how body size/appearance and health don’t have that much to do with each other, about how we need to stop making assessments and assumptions about other peoples’ bodies, and about how the constant push of the BMI as a metric for health shames women rather than helping them; that it feeds into the same negative body image messages associated with visual media/advertising.

I admittedly ran off those rails; I’m not a health science writer, but I felt like I needed to make some reference to the arguments I was shorthanding. It’s hard to rale against these things without some specific criticism, which I didn’t take the time to make. Instead, I took a ride on the scope creep train and got lost in grumpyville. So this week, it’s back to the more familiar place of writing from feelings.

Tryouts.

Heading into our league’s A/B team tryout process this week, I was fairly sanguine — at least about my expectations. I joked that I was treating it as a sort of workshop: a chance to practice and play at a higher level, to actually scrimmage, and to be seen. As a new girl (again, sigh.), I haven’t been seen much by coaches or other skaters, and that’s a disadvantage going into the home team drafts as well. I’m a transfer with some low-level bout experience, and was just starting to find my position in a pack when I moved. But I’m not fast, and my skills and the value I bring to a team aren’t necessarily noticeable right away. I know the game well, I study high-level play, and I see a lot, even if I can’t articulate it immediately. I’m generally more comfortable on skates than in shoes and I’m a hell of a wrecking ball when I connect, but I’m still battling 40 years of conditioning not to get in peoples’ way or knock them down. I’m still learning. I listen and follow instructions in practice, but struggle to act as quickly in the heat of a jam. But perhaps most importantly: I have waited many years to be ready to take on something this intense and demanding and fulfilling, and just being able to play — at all — is a challenge and a triumph and I take it very seriously. Fuck age and weight both, this is when I’m ready. Not when I was 25 and thinner, not when I was 35 and running more regularly, but now. It is what it is, and I’m done waiting in the wings.

Life is too short not to believe you’re worthy of every opportunity that comes your way — that’s the thought that passed through my head as my body cooled down and recovered from the first tryout session. Were there moments I doubted myself? Certainly, and that’s when I’d tell that little voice where to stick it. Again and again.

Move your feet, take a lap, look what you’re already doing — revel for a moment in what your body is capable of. Then get back out there, try things, don’t think. Just push a little more, and open up to whatever’s next.

I’d intended to hold off on posting until the whole tryout process was over, but I’m not that patient. I’m going to move forward regardless of where I end up, and that’s what matters, truly.

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