I actually love telling people that I am the “fittest fat girl” they will ever meet. Never in my life has my unusual size ever inhibited the intensity of my ambition. Not now, not ever—however—discrimination is alive and well and it’s easy to be a target when you’re OBVIOUSLY “different” in an industry that many would never expect you to be apart of. The consequence of being different and sticking out is you are going to be judged, and at times, socially penalized and ostracized, for not fitting a idealistic image within that industry.
I knew it was likely I would face negativity head-on as I worked my way into the fitness industry, and that’s exactly what happened in Arlington Heights, just outside of Chicago, IL. I was blatantly discriminated against over my physical appearances instead of my physical abilities. –I simply did not “fit” the owners idea of what a typical fitness instructor should look like. –Sucked to say the least!
Several weeks leading up to this, I had been speaking with the gym owner regularly about various different aspects of my method, showcasing technical and fundamental components of Polykinetics, and of course, my first hand results. He seemed to be very excited to have me come out and show his clients what Polykinetics is all about. So after raising enough donations via the gofundme campaign…I took the leap and I met with the owner, and from that very first initial look on his face , I knew……something wasn’t right. I naturally at first chucked it up to my nerves and blew it off. Upon showing up for the “class demo”, I ended up walking into a completely empty room, and my gut feeling had solidified….I got stereotyped!
All I could do in the moment was maintain my professionalism and civility with a growing sick-feeling in the pit of my stomach. This was the first time my body image succumbed to scrutiny in any Polykinetics demonstration, but it wasn’t the first time in my life that my size ever came into question over my abilities.
I experienced small encounters in the past with being underestimated when I first began doing martial arts. Primarily because at the time, I was one of the few females in a heavily male-dominated contact sport, but also because I was much bigger than all the other students. Needless to say, I stuck out in classes and even more so in competitions, but my confidence was solid in my training and physical ability to win tournament after tournament…and I did just that, over 60+ of them actually.
Ultimately, those initial underestimations about my body were reversed about as quickly as they surfaced since my successes always out shined my size/shape and others impressions of it. To some they looked at me as if I were defying the laws of gravity, but no I just worked harder to win. I was a big girl but quickly realizing that big girls hit HARD! I never saw myself at a disadvantage.
Simply just being my own eye-opening walking/talking lesson to never make assumptions on others based on looks. After a couple of years of doing martial arts competitions and my reputation growing my size if anything came to be a source of inspiration and motivation to many of my students and competitors alike since I was physical proof that size does not always speak for your abilities. Looks CAN absolutely be deceiving. This gave me a unconventional opportunity as a martial arts instructor and a life lesson I’ve incorporated into Polykinetics. -Never use physical appearances to assume physical abilities.
Now…….It seems like history had a slight relapse. Only this time being fitness instead of martial arts, but regardless, the fact is that being 230+lbs never prevented me from winning competitions in the past, and being 160lbs won’t prevent me from teaching others now. My own progressive fitness road has nothing to do physically with those I teach. My body is my body. Their body is theirs. We each have different lanes of the same highway.
I personally don’t give a damn that I don’t fit a someone else’s body image of what is acceptable and what isn’t. I am out to teach techniques, not to gloat about an awesome looking body. Polykinetics is all about an internal empowerment not an external vanity. I have flaws….no big deal. We all have them and in the most beautiful ways.
All in all……this past demonstration “failure” just showed me that stereotypes will always be there, but again they are nothing more than a unique opportunity to prove it wrong while motivating others at the same time.
BRING IT ON! 🙂
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