The past few weeks, Ronda Rousey’s name has been all over the news. Her last three 3 UFC fights collectively have taken less than 60 seconds. I’m definitely not a UFC fan — I REALLY hate watching any sort of hand-to-hand combat and cover my eyes during violent scenes on tv (case in point: I saw Fight Club, but I only actually “watched” about 47 seconds of it). Anyway, Ronda is a UFC fighter who also happens to be a woman. It kind of goes without saying that the lady definitely knows her way around a gym. And with all the publicity, there have been quite a few nay-sayers who say she’s too muscular and too manly-looking. In response, she recently put out this YouTube video where Ronda says, yes, she is a woman and yes, she is muscular, but this doesn’t make her any less feminine. In fact, this body of hers, where each muscle is developed to serve a purpose, makes her “femininely badass as f*ck” and, despite my aversion to watching people beat the shit out of each other, I’m now a Rousey fan.
So why the girl crush on Ronda? No, she’s not a marathoner like other awesome ladies (tennis champ Caroline Wozniacki! Gold medal gymnast Kerri Strug!), but she is a strong voice (no pun intended) championing the body of the female athlete. A few weeks ago, a female runner friend wrote on Facebook that she was too self-conscious to run outside without her shirt on. I wanted to “like” her status 17 times. Girl, I feel you. I’ve been running for over 11 years and, no matter how hot or gross or nasty it got — and believe me, NYC in August is a special kind of disgusting — I had only run once sans shirt. After reading her status, I went out for a run and took off my shirt. She inspired me to run 8 miles wearing nothing but running shorts and a sports bra. It was surprisingly liberating. It was also a little scary because I’m such a nerd that I got so paranoid I was going to get a ticket for indecent exposure. And then I thought, wait a second. All these guys with ‘dad bods‘ walk around without their shirts, evidence of their 6 packs of Heinekens and BBQ wings hanging around their waists like basketballs from their weekend warrior game. If they can do it, why can’t I do the same, with my “evidence” being planks and crunches and those damn V-ups (that I would be happy being able to do just ONE where I don’t look like a total spaz)? And so, I’ve joined the no-shirt party. I’ve been listening to my inner “you go girl” and have been leaving the shirt at home. And I must admit, with this confidence about my body and acceptance that my “kellybelly” will always be here no matter how many crunches or flutter kicks I do, comes confidence about a lot of other things, too. Because, like my friend Ronda, I am not a #dnb.
During good weeks, I have all 10 toenails. I have calluses built up from years of cutting and jab-stepping on the basketball court.
I would never get a pedicure, and in fact should get a 20% discount (let’s just say I’m not operating with a full set). Some women go on shopping trips to find the perfect pair of jeans; my goal is to find the perfect sports bra (chafing = ouchie). I have a ridiculous watch tan line from wearing my trusty Garmin while logging hundreds of miles this summer. Two-a-day workouts mean my hair is always wet (even in the winter) and half the day I’m in some form of workout clothes (true story: after graduate school, I considered getting a job at Lululemon only for the employee discount). While at work on weekends, my lab mates would ask, “did you just come from a run?” To which I replied, “nope, this is just how I dress.” As a female athlete , it’s taken an embarrassingly long time for me to accept that I will never be one of those super skinny model-y girls who is always put together and looks like she’s on a steady diet of cigarettes and coffee. True, I’m often hungry (and never travel without at least one Honey Stinger bar) so the threat of getting hangry is never far, but I blame that on the workouts and not on calorie restriction.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I may wear pink shoes and a sparkly headband, but that’s not because I need to feel more feminine. It’s because I want to. And like my mom always said, “you always do what you wanna do.” Damn straight.