I worked my ass off last year. Actually, a better statement would be that I worked my ass UP. I’ve always been pretty good about getting in a bit of cardio exercise, but hated strength training. I started hearing repeatedly that we women start to lose muscle at a rate of approximately 1 pound per year. Actually, what spoke to me the loudest was my body. Frankly, it started to droop. I had breastfed 2 boys, so I understood “droop-age”, but I thought it was just a boob-thing. Who knew that gravity was a equal opportunity destroyer and likes to do its thing on knees, butts and anything else with fat.
I pretty quickly get into fix-it mode and call a trainer. The beauty about being middle-aged is that you know yourself. I knew that I didn’t have the will to do what needed to be done in the Battle of the Droopgate on my own. I’m the type of woman, who does 5 pushups and then looks in the mirror for results. I needed someone to push me past the pretty perspiring and get me to the ugly, grunting sweating that I knew was necessary to conquer the droop.
So, I hired a cute, young, makes you sick cause her body is perfect -type of trainer, named Emily. Her personality is perfect for me because she knows to push me, but she also knows that when this Black woman says she ain’t feelin it—to leave me alone.
For a year, Emily got me grunting through squats, lunges, burpees and all of the other standard tools of torture. It was so incredibly hard. I just am not that type of person who enjoys it; who says with a smile and sweat running down my face-“boy, I feel great.” I dread when I know Emily is coming; I hate every damn exercise we do: and I evidently was asleep when God distributed the freaking exercise endorphins. I hate the before, the during and the after. I just do it because I know that I have to.
So fast-forward one year to this past weekend. I went to Vegas to hang with my best friend from college. As is apropos today, pictures were being snapped at every occasion or venue. If we weren’t taking pictures, we were looking at previously taken pictures. At one point, while swiping through my girlfriend’s camera, I came across a picture with me at the pool, in my bikini, walking to the snack bar. And I must say—although I am blushing as I write this–my ass looked so good! It was my pre-marriage, pre-babies, pre-middle-aged ass. Hallelujah! I missed it! It was up! I actually worked my ass up!
It is rare that I see a picture of myself that I feel as if I look good. It is almost as rare that I feel such an incredible sense of accomplishment—I freaking worked so hard for this butt. I was proud of my ass –figuratively and literally.
I wanted to show it show-off. Maybe it was my ego. Maybe it was me remembering all of the times I wanted to eat some of the pizza I was serving to my kids, but I didn’t; or the ice cream, bread, pasta, and cookies that I said no to (admittedly, I said yes a lot too). Perhaps it was all of the painful hours I spent with Emily doing something that is really hard for me and something that I really didn’t want to do. Whatever it was, I wanted to take that picture and post it on Instagram, Facebook, this blog and say, “Look at my ass! Look at what I did! Look! Look!!”
But I didn’t. And it’s probably for the best, for a lot of reasons. But what is intriguing to me is why I didn’t.
It wasn’t because of my husband. He would’ve been cool. He is proud of my body, likes me to be sexy, and is incredibly confident. Instead, I thought about all of the women who would “hate” on me. If we are honest, isn’t that what/who we often think about when we get dressed: the reaction of other women.
We women can be mean as hungry coyotes to each other.
Dealing with women my entire life has taught me a few rules. In regards to this specific situation this is how the rules apply:
- If I posted a picture of my pre-workout dimply, saggy booty, not-posing, in a bathing suit there would be no backlash.
- If I posted a picture of my pre-workout dimply, saggy booty, posing, in a bathing suit “like I think I’m cute” people would talk about how I was too big to be doing that.
- If I posted a picture of my pre-workout dimply, saggy booty, not-posing or posing in a bathing suit but said something self-deprecating, I would be celebrated.
- If I posted a picture that was even somewhat sexy, I will be subjected to all sorts of ridicule.
If you are doing the math, this means that for us women to be kind to one another: it means that we either need to be self-deprecating or self-sabotaging. We make it difficult to love ourselves. Don’t you think?
Why does me loving my ass and being proud of myself threaten others? And trust me, I struggle to accept (and work-on) the jiggle on my arms, the gaggle at my chin and throat, the way my thighs still rub together, my lower stomach and the spread of my hips. I critique myself to attain some impossible ideal, as we all do. This weekend, however, I just wanted to put a damn gold star on my ass and put it on the fireplace mantle, if you want the truth. It felt good to be satisfied with something on myself. Its been a long time.
I watch my boys and other male figures and they seem to have no problems showing off. Bragging is not only a right, but an asset. We women, on the other hand, have to carefully walk the fine line between not appearing too vulnerable and weak, but not too confident. It’s tough sometimes—particularly when a woman just wants to show off her hard-earned ass.
*Note: there is even a hesitation in publishing this article, as I know that the article could cause the same feelings as the picture; but this blog is about growth. I know that I would write an article without hesitation about 5 pounds I had gained or how dimpled my butt is. I should feel equally comfortable sharing something positive.
“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more