TW: Body image
Body Image-- It’s a hefty, personal topic for anyone with a body. Thankfully, it’s a conversation more and more people are having more often.
Even professional cyclists are coming to the podium to bare it all and admit they, too, have run into the all-too-common pitfalls of negative self-talk and its consequences.
Before I was ever a cyclist, I was a long-distance runner. My love for the sport began in elementary school and followed me many years later into college. I ran alongside incredible athletes at the DI level before finally hanging my cross country spikes up to pursue other dreams.
There are many factors that played into my departure from the sport of running, but one of the biggest being body image. I’m “small”--5’4”-- but I’m not a toothpick. I’m a goddamn woman with a butt, hips, boobs and everything else that comes with the territory. I was never that slim, straight body-type that was nearly synonymous with long-distance running and I never was going to be. That’s just not my body.
In that regard, cycling came as a breath of fresh air. It was a sport seemingly free from the expectations of body image and what an athlete should look like.
However, old habits die hard.
Several years into the sport, I still catch myself looking into the mirror wondering if I should be slimmer, more muscular...the list goes on. To be honest, I have my good days and my bad days.
But on the bad days, I have to remind myself of the incredible work and accomplishments this body has done for me. I have to remind myself of the incredible feats of athleticism my female counterparts (and amazing GRITS teammates) have accomplished all while being different shapes, sizes and everything in between. This body can push pedals hard (harder than my brain ever thought it could), this body can jump logs and glide over barriers.
And that is F-ING amazing!
I’ll leave you on this note: in the ever-wise words of Joe from the Princess Diaries (guilty pleasure, ok?), “Nobody can ever make you feel inferior without your consent.”