“Fake it til you make it…”
At least once a week for the last two years, I have said those words along with EMKFIT (aka Emily Thorne) at the start of her HIIT dance workout YouTube videos. And at least once a week for the last two years, I have lived those words as I’ve flailed, booty popped, dropped it low, and did a dozen other dance moves that I never would have allowed myself to even attempt before—despite almost 30 years of formal dance training.
You see, some of EMKFIT’s choreography is designed to help you feel strong. But some of the choreography is designed to help you feel sexy. And a lot of the choreography is designed to help you feel both at the same time.
And I have felt strong before. I have felt powerful and pretty. Maybe even beautiful every so often when the makeup and wardrobe is just right.
That was a word I never associated with myself—and a word I was led to believe no one would ever associate with me.
I came of age at the peak of power for brands like Victoria’s Secret, which taught women of my generation that sex appeal was stored in your curves (but also could be lost as soon as those curves became “too much”—we all were fighting a losing battle between being too much and not enough). And for a young woman who barely filled out her A-cup bras, it was all too easy for me to feel like I was stuck in a child’s body, like I could never really own my power as a woman just because of the numbers and letters on a tag on a piece of lace and wire.
When you grow up hearing the phrase “Real women have curves,” you start to wonder if that means you’re not a real woman because you’re more rectangle than hourglass. And you start to carry yourself accordingly.
Source: ABC News
When I watched Simone Biles warm up before eventually withdrawing from the women’s gymnastics team event at the Tokyo Olympics last week, the hardest part wasn’t watching her fall out of her vault. It wasn’t even watching her eyes as she clearly lost her sense of where she was in the air.
It was after, when she walked back to her teammates and they asked her if she was OK—clearly sensing that something was very wrong with the woman we all know as the GOAT of women’s gymnastics. But Simone put on a smile (that didn’t reach her eyes) and said two words that sounded too familiar:
How many of us have said those words, knowing they were a lie? How many of us have said them fighting back tears or pushing down anger or pretending we didn’t just have a panic attack in the bathroom?
We say we’re fine because we want to be fine—we want to pretend. But often, we also say we’re fine because we know the alternative—the truth—is uncomfortable. And we’ve been taught for our whole lives that making other people uncomfortable is a lot worse than being uncomfortable ourselves.
So we say we’re fine when we’re not. We try to push through and push down and put on a smile.
And every time we do, we shrink a little bit more so we can fit more easily into the cute little box the world wants to keep us in. Everyone’s box has a different label, but for many of us, our labels all boil down to the same thing—a label we were given when we were too young to understand all that it would ask of us:
A Good Girl is always fine. She never makes a scene, never makes herself the center of attention, never asks for more than what she’s given. A Good Girl takes care of the people around her, and she’s often so busy doing this that she forgets to take care of herself. A Good Girl is self-sacrificial, always putting the needs of others above her own.
A Good Girl is selfless.
Because a sense of self is too big to fit in that tiny box.