It happened during a Strongman training session, in which there were very heavy sandbags involved.
The task was, pick up a sandbag from the ground and carry it 100 feet, working up to your heaviest possible bag. I love this kind of stuff, and I loved the newness and the challenge of the task. And it was through this experience that I had an unexpected moment of clarity about both my femininity and my autonomy.
After a few rounds of hoisting these awkward, heavy bags, I made a quip about the destruction of my lovely gel manicure–my nails, while trying to get the sandbag off the ground, were repeatedly scraping against the concrete floor.
It wasn’t a complaint, of course. I don’t complain during workouts, and to be honest, I try to make it a habit not to complain at all; complaining is useless–action is preferable. It wasn’t a complaint, no. More of a jocular reference to the fact that while I like to get sweaty and strong and chalked up at the gym,I also still care about my mani. Deeply.
A fellow lifter jokingly replied, “Oh come on, Neg!”
I responded in turn with, “Hey, I’m allowed.”
Because you know what? I AM ALLOWED.
I’m allowed to like squats and sparkly nail polish, in equal measure.
I’m allowed to get sweaty and dirty while smashing weights, and still truly care about things like lipgloss and bronzer and fashion.
I’m allowed to relentlessly pursue strength and simultaneously pursue things that society deems in direct opposition of that pursuit.
I’m allowed to be a badass and a girlie girl and a feminist and a doting wife and a nurturing mom and an entrepreneur and anything I damn well decide to be, all at once in intervals and everywhere in between.
I’m allowed to have my own personal definition of “feminine,” my feminine.
I’m allowed to be powerful and feminine, because those things are not mutually exclusive.
I’m allowed. And so are you.
You’re allowed to determine what feminine means to you, and you’re allowed to identify what makes you feel powerful, what makes you feel most aligned and fully alive. So instead of collapsing silently and peacefully into the mold that someone else has created for us, I suggest we create our own.
Or better yet, why not reject the idea of a mold altogether? Why not give ourselves permission to be whoever the hell we want to be, whenever we choose? To be the people we know we’re truly meant to be, rather than the people we think we’re supposed to be?
Permission to be authentically, powerfully, unapologetically you–that’s what I want for each and everyone of you. Because no one gets to label us. No one gets to put us in a little box and expect us to stay within those bounds, and color within those lines.
No one decides what “feminine” means to you, except for YOU.