Fired Up

I’m fired up.

Last summer I wrote a post about how I have struggled with my running clothes making too much of a “girly” statement. Oddly enough, I was asked to wear a running skirt during my lululemon Ambassador photo shoot (mind you, I could have said no). The very position in a company that I believe actively spotlights a variety of community athletes of all shapes and sizes and abilities is where I came face-to-face with the potential hypocrisy of wearing a skirt for a photo that is supposed to represent me as an athlete first, not a woman.

My Ambassador photo (@ the E. 66th St. lululemon store!)

I decided I could own my femininity and still be a kick-ass athlete in a skirt. So there.

This new documentary was brought to my attention by Janae over at Hungry Runner Girl (she really does eat more candy than anyone I’ve ever met), it’s called Miss Representation. Take a few minutes (appx. 9) and watch the trailer for it. Then come back and tell me you aren’t fired up, too.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Why is it that we don’t promote strong females? Why must they always be all sexed up damsels in distress and not the strong, fierce women who are actually doing the dirty work, too? The images are everywhere: TV, magazines, and those advertisements on the sides of buses.

She really wants you to respect her as an actress.

What are young women to think? Looks (impossibly perfect ones at that, thank you Photoshop) are the most important thing in the world. Your body, your hair, your makeup, your skin is top priority. Wax it, dye it, laser it, nip it, tuck it and starve yourself. Then get implants.

I was told that I could do and be anything I wanted to, I just had to put my mind to it. My parents made sure that my studies, my self esteem, and my dreams came first. They always told me I was beautiful (I protested, especially during my braces/glasses/acne/perm phase) but never put pressure on me to look a certain way or make sure I put make up on before I walk out the door.

Good health and physical fitness are important. I like to feel good about my appearance, possibly more than I should but whatever, and so I make sure that I look professional and presentable when I go to work or school. So, I am not saying that looks don’t matter because I am not that naive.

I do want to build up the self esteem of young women. I do want to teach my niece (and daughters, if I have them) that she can be strong AND beautiful AND smart AND successful. I do want women to start believing in themselves more and strive to be more a part of running this country and the businesses that make up Corporate America.

I will do it through physical fitness. I hope that the inspiration and strength they learn on the track and in the gym translates into their professional roles as adults. I hope, I hope.

How are you encouraging young women to dream big and fight back against gender discrimination? How can you START doing it? Start now!

Now go out and run!

8 thoughts on “Fired Up

  1. Yes! I AM FIRED UP! I couldn’t agree with you more Abby – this post was right-on and so well written. Thank you! I want the same things you do. I have a daughter (her name is Abby too 🙂 – she is 6) and I can honestly say that my running is as much for me as it is for her and her two younger brothers. Same goes for pretty much everything else that I do in life. My business, my art, my volunteering. I want my children to see their momma striving and dreaming and following her heart. Taking care of my body not because it is a chore, but because it feels good. Never giving up. Laughing and smiling and enjoying being healthy and taking care of myself. It feels good to take care of my body, and it feels even better to show my children the joy that comes from living a life you love.

  2. I started reading your post and thought, “No! Don’t be anti-running skirt!” Running skirts actually helped me get over stupid self-confidence issues when I first started running. (And, I bet fewer folks would have those issues if we didn’t have such blatant Miss Representation.) Now, I don’t care what I look like, if something is tight and shows off “problem” areas or whatever, and what other folks think of my running apparel. I was really happy to read your post from last summer about how folks should rock the skirt if they want to. 🙂 Thanks for posting the video and your thoughtful comments about gender and fitness. I see the discrimination going both ways sometimes, and I think it’s time we finally say as a society, We’re better than this.

  3. I am running a marathon for my daughters! I tell them all the time that they can do anything, but I want them to see it firsthand! Also, my kids go to a pre-school where all the little girls wear bows in their hair and perfectly pressed dresses. I don’t push them to be like the others and often we show up in mismatched socks and hair in our faces. Sure, I like to see them perfectly presented sometimes, but in their real life they are rough and tumble and fun and beautiful just as they are.
    Great post, thank you!

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