I Am Not Small
I want to say outright that I am very happy to listen to, include, support and commiserate with our followers who are small. The size difference between some men who are bigger and stronger can feel insurmountable and frustrating. I hear and appreciate what you go through! We support you!
But this post is for those of us girls and women who are not small.
I am short, I suppose. 5’4” But I am by far not the smallest woman in my club, nor smaller than many of my women friends. We often pair women with other women presuming we’ll be the same size and therefore confer a few unique benefits. (Training with someone your own size sets things at neutral which can prevent injury and provide a blank slate to work out complex technique.) I really have no problem with that strategy.
But I’m not really the same size. I’m usually bigger! So I feel like I straddle a strange contradiction. I’m not at all bigger or stronger than most of my male partners, and that comes with its challenges. But I’m usually bigger and stronger than other women! So for them, am I also as challenging to work with as the big guys?
It can feel strange to be included with narratives of small, thin women when I am not. Unpleasant to be grouped in with people who are wrongly presumed are weak. It’s wrong to presume and judge because of size, but I’m actually quite strong and can apply significant force if I want to. So where does that leave me? Where does that leave the other bigger women I’ve trained with? What about the very tall of us? The very muscular? The fat?
Our bodies aren’t necessarily the typically accepted feminine shape, and we face our own set of challenges navigating that.
One of the women I used to train with was very tall but very thin. I wonder what contradictions she might have had to deal with. And another woman who big and strong. I think she lifted. She had a hard time being gentle and I think part of it had to do with our instructor telling all women, regardless of their individuality, to be strong! Brutal! Kick his butt!
There are some things I can’t do because of my knee. I have a hypermobile meniscus that I’ve had since I was a thin, short little girl which makes some movements unsafe for me. But I can’t help but think that people assume that I don’t do some things because of how my body looks: fat. It’s not true. I’m an athlete, dancer, and martial artist no matter any judgement about my body size.
My body is mine. It’s the one I have. Whatever weight-loss goals I might entertain or how many push-ups I wish I could do. My body is mine. It’s the one I have. And I’m going to f*cking use it to train in my art. And I’m going to use it in solidarity with women of all sizes and shapes.