I’m no good at being a fangirl. That rabid memorization of metadata – team rosters, stats, trades, rankings – I don’t do well. What I do well is wear whatever jersey you feel I need to wear to bed, as a pseudo-sexual show of appreciation for <insert favorite sports team here>, but otherwise, could care less of the name across the breasticles, as long as the fabric stretches.
My reason for enjoying football is because it reminds me of my childhood. Growing up in the southern region of Germany within minutes of major cities, you couldn’t avoid getting caught up in the hype, the esprit de guerre, the fierce loyalty to team (and country once the World Cup came around). In my region, our team was Bayern Munich. As a teenaged girl, I cheered on their gorgeous, sculpted bodies. Tor! Tor! Tor!
Now I’m attempting a dedication to the Tampa Bay Rowdies! My friend Guy Delaney with the Rowdies got me great seats for last week’s opener, along with a magnetic decal for my truck and two t-shirts to look the part. I faux-hawked my hair, painted bright green and gold on my eyes, then whooped it up at Al Lang Stadium while cheering on gorgeous, sculpted bodies, er, I mean, a dedicated team of professional athletes who proudly call Tampa Bay home!
This is what you get for being a literary arts booster; when you put yourself down as a stand-in, you might actually have to stand in. And just that happened during last night’s Keep St Pete Lit’s Lucha Libro! Part of St Petersburg’s SunLit Festival happening through next Sunday. I ended up as one of the literary luchadores. No mask, but definitely scary hair😀
Lucha Libro works like this – writers are matched off over semi-reliable typewriters, given a word, and then five minutes to compose something around that prompt. The crowd decides of the luchadores who wins the round. Most people were probably expecting this:
But it turned out to be much milder, a wonderful array of diverse styles and interpretations, a fun folly I was glad to join in on.
First Round: GANADORA! Word: Shrouds
Second Round: GANADORA! Word: Seethed
Third Round: PERDEDORA Word: Naked
Her mother would have her strip naked, then slowly unspiral cling wrap around her daughter’s prepubescent torso and thighs. When she was done, her mother sent her out into the family backyard, in the South Texas three-digit heat, and ordered her young daughter to mow the entire lawn in that tortuous ensemble.
Listening to this while holding her trembling hands, I shook my head sympathetically.
She laughed nervously, doing a bad job of pretending the memory was funny instead of spirit-crushing.
I offered, “When I was that age, my mother made me do workout videos as soon as I got home from school. My brother and sister got to whip off their backpacks, run outside and play with their friends, while I’m kicking legs with Jane Fuckin’ Fonda! By the time I got to go outside and play, my friends were already in their homes for supper.”
In our sororal moment we agreed our mothers were horribly influenced by what society deemed to be “the right look” for a woman, with no consideration for modern genetics, anatomy, or kinesiology.
When we shared our stories, this woman was in her early twenties, invested in party hopping, binge drinking and freaking down any guy who found “big guls” attractive. She essentially subverted her desire for self-empowerment into being everyone’s favorite hoebag.
She didn’t need to turn out that way, but it was the only way she felt beautiful. I despise her mother for torturing her, I despise the men who played against her emotional vulnerability, and I despise this society for encouraging that behavior on both ends. It pisses me off this psychotic, warped image of “the perfect body” is still in full practice! Making it the norm, not a circumstance, of an increasingly visible world experience. What’s most terrifying, it’s WOMEN HATING WOMEN keeping the ignorance and torture aflame.
In my case, I was totally confused! I was one of the lead ballerinas in my ballet school, I was physically active during the day (meaning, fighting boys in the schoolyard on the regular), and I wasn’t into sweets or snacks. My mother has that thin build common for original Mesoamerican people, and, other than a pooch us three kids likely are responsible for, she was and remains a slender built woman. I inherited my father’s genes: a hardy, stout, solid body, common for direct descendants of the African Diaspora. Mom kept calling me ‘fat’ because her friends and coworkers were calling me fat. But I wasn’t fat, I didn’t even jiggle! Ignorance on her part bloomed physical insecurity on my part.
Layer this confusion on top of my genetic predisposition to depression, and you’re looking at a Molotov cocktail of deep, psychological issues. Once I entered into puberty, mania and obesity fused, causing me to be so body conscious I enrolled in cardio classes to supplement my school physical education classes! Obsession took hold, and so did paranoia. I would fall into valleys of depression when my clothes tightened despite my feverish efforts.
The thing is – which Mom and Dad and my school mates weren’t keen on – the weight wasn’t genetic. The weight gain was due to depression. This was proven into my adult years, trying to provide for my family, study college courses, work three jobs, and be affianced to an Operation Iraqi Freedom soldier, all in one stroke.
More family drama, more weight.
More depression, more weight.
More stress. More weight.
More homicidal thoughts.
I’m like a lot of Americans: our mental condition reflects our physical condition and vice versa and, despite our best efforts, our societally-influenced inner and outer circles shame us for not fitting “just right.”
The title of my blog is no lie: I am a mad woman. Certifiably emotionally disturbed. But like with my weight control, I exert much energy to maintain mental balance, such as knowing I’m about to dip into depression because I’m lamenting too much about my physical appearance. Awareness of my triggers and a rational fitness routine are a couple of tools I use to keep Von happy and healthy.
Notice I said tools I use to keep Von happy? That’s because an aspect of emotional instability is projecting those insecurities onto your outer and inner circle, expecting someone else to be accountable for your happiness because you’re too weak to do it yourself. Like my friend above, many choose to keep bad habits going rather than embrace self-improvement, because the need for public adoration and affection trumps the need to be physically, mentally and spiritually in shape. Regardless if you’re trying to lose baby weight or reconcile your father’s lack of attention, the only way you’ll get better is if you love yourself better. No one can self-love you except you.
Every day I struggle to face the world, such is my permanent disability. To keep weight insecurity-manic depression at bay, I don’t have mirrors in the home. I rarely self photograph and I opt to stay out of group photos whenever possible. Why? I don’t want my organic matter to define my sense of self-worth. So if I scowl at you for over-complimenting my body, it’s because I’d rather you find value in who I am than how I appear.
To Conquer Obesity, Embrace The Knowledge That:
It takes time.
It requires persistence.
You have to do it for you.
Your efforts will save your life.
I spent the last two years of high school with this grueling schedule:
7am – 8am: color guard practice
8am – 4pm: honors courses
4pm – 6pm: marching band practice
7pm – 2am: work at my brother’s store
3am – 6am: homework and maybe sleep
You can imagine how difficult it was for me to have a semblance of a balanced life then!
The nights I was not scheduled for work, I took myself to Red Team Gym, a fitness facility located on Fort Hood. This was my favorite place to pump out the stress of my so-called life.
Red Team was not the family-friendly gym; Red Team was for the serious body sculptors, the gals and guys who, after dismissed from duty, didn’t run straight to the barracks to their game consoles, but instead, to their sweats and back supports.
The gym was my happy place. Women weren’t segregated from men and everyone shared the equipment respectfully. Amongst my kindred I pressed, pushed, and howled through reps until I felt deflated, which meant, I felt good. The entire gymnasium was alive with random shouts and applause of positive affirmations. Gym rats, the lot of us, but we all felt worlds better after a challenging workout.
A year into university, on the first day of Weightlifting class, I simmered in quiet dismay as I absorbed my new free weight comrades: scrawny, nerdish, physically unwell, insecure. All males. No ladies. Not at all what I was used to! Guess SWTSU didn’t have any other warrior women on campus that semester?
Every class day I experienced disappointment. Since the boys wanted to keep it insular, the instructor had to force students to pair with me. The only guy who would throw just a minimal amount of shade my way had a heavy foreign accent and spoke completely indiscernible English. He also suffered from constant workout boners, and his strict adherence to tight pants certainly did not improve our partnering situation!
The scary part was pairing with someone who was so dedicated to his insecurity, he’d overload the bars. I knew deep down in my heart the weight was crippling him, but, as I’d slide my hands under the bar ready to catch, they’d scoff or tell me to back off, while their arms or legs wiggled for mercy!
Most the time, I spent Weightlifting class arms folded, waiting for my turn at the bar or bench, while the fellas chummed it up, curling Gatorade into their faces like dumb bells, using the benches as recliners, the bars as towel holders. I would’ve been completely content to work out on my own, but class rules required pairing. I left every session feeling less accomplished and more frustrated.
I signed up for Weightlifting class naively assuming the camaraderie and support I experienced at Red Team was universal, only to find extremely unmotivated, apprehensive people. That experience brought to light a fitness surety: no matter what weight, no matter what experience level, self-discipline is what begets success in body sculpting. Support comes from equally self-disciplined people.
After making an A in the course, I invested in the campus recreational facility, abandoning the nostalgia of Red Team Gym and focusing on my health, which was and still is the priority.