I like to think Target changing rooms as akin to the Oracle from The Matrix. I go into one, strip down, and Changing Room Oracle reveals things to me about myself that I don’t know, do know, know to be possibly true in the future, know may never be true and maybe it’s just the shitty fluorescent lighting. In other words, when I use a Target changing room and am suddenly able to view my body from about five different angles simultaneously, I usually walk away from the experience with less clarity in my self-image than when I went in.
I visited Target and its changing rooms about a week ago. I didn’t have solid cause to do so–I didn’t need new clothes, really. I just felt drawn to the ritualistic practice of trying stuff on in a store as a way to evade facing current problems (example: I’m not going to be able to renew my driver’s license before I turn 27 and then I’m going to be driving around on the edge of committing a misdemeanor if I get pulled over, fuuuuuu) and went with Targets red-doored changing rooms in a quest to remain relatively un-harassed by store attendants, as Target’s tend to be pretty neutral on whether or not you actually buy anything.
Inside, I tried on the six garments I brought with me–yoga pants (yes!) some shirts (why did I pick these shirts?) and a irregularly-cut sweater (this is either really edgy or stupid-looking). The shirts and weird, decidedly stupid-looking sweater go first and all are voted down. Then I get to the yoga pants and try them on. They fit well through the butt, the thighs, and then bag and gap like crazy down at my knees. What? What is this crap? How can my KNEES be too small? Why is everything too BIG for me somehow? The stream of frustrated internal grumbling begins and leads to a solid round of self-critique.
What does this have to do with lifting? Well, the Matrix’s Oracle would probably be inclined to answer “something, and nothing.” I believe that you’re in the best place to be the best lifter possible when you are in possession of clear, honest self-knowledge on both a corporeal and psychological level. I know that I am not in possession of this level of self-awareness–yet. I strive for it, by way of striving to understand how I set up obstacles for myself mentally and how I might begin to overcome them.
I admit that one of my self-imposed obstacles is a continued struggle to decide how exactly I feel about being a lightweight powerlifter–specifically, how I feel about being a ligthweight female powerlifter in the 105 lb weight class. I am used to deciding on an action and then going after it with single purpose, and my ability to do so in pursuing a successful 105 career is complicated by the following:
1. History. I struggle to set aside a history–mentioned in this blog many times at this point–of eating disorders in which being small meant I self-identified in a certain way.
2. Personal sense of aesthetics. I absolutely love having muscle on my body on a purely aesthetic level. It is fascinating to me, and if I’ve ever felt positive about anything regarding my body–pretty freaking rare on a scale of “how often something is likely to happen–it has been in relation to the evidence of corporeal adaptation to force that is muscle-building. If I want to stay in the 105 weight class, there is a simply a limit to how much muscle size I am “allowed” to put on. This sucks. I really struggle with this.
3. An awareness of the no-man’s-land small lifters sometimes inhabit in the lifting world. In a subculture that touts such slogans as “lift big eat big” and the perilously-close-to-size-shaming “strong is the new skinny” adage aimed at women, I don’t fit in. I can’t eat big on a regular freaking basis, ok? I need to stay in the 105 class and still attempt to lift big. I AM, in many people’s body spectrum, skinny.
I admit to having a desire to “fit in” in the community I love. Yes, there’s “room for all of us.” But within the scope of that room exist a lot of contradictory ideas and conversations. If strength training is to be an answer to negative ways in which many women think about their bodies, these contradictions need to be addressed, and I guess I’m doing so in my whiney, “woe-is-me-I-feel-persecuted”-sounding blog post today.
I will argue that I don’t feel persecuted, but that as someone who feels like a weird outlier in the world from which she escapes feeling like an outlier in “the real world,” I do notice contradicting attitudes and I’m relatively aware of how they might function negatively for other lifters. I have no solution for what I perceive to be a problem in some of the more feminist embraces and bodies of rhetoric surrounding strength training. My job, as I see it, is to persevere and keep trying to lift better. In my pursuit of knowing myself better as a lifter both physically and how I fit within the lifting community, I have to ignore a lot and write my own damned rules.
On Monday, I turned 27. My goal is to have these rules nailed down by the time I’m 30. Time to amp things up.
^^Nostalgia indulgence ftw, damn do I wish it was still cool to like this movie^^