Like A Girl || Stacey Magnesio


At the beginning of the school year I wore a cute, sleeveless dress. One of my boys (athletic little fellow that does not have a filter) came up to me with a confused look on his face. He half stated, half questioned, “Ms. Mag, you have muscles?” I laughed out loud, and simply replied, “Yes Matthew. Girls can have muscles you know.” This sparked a 10 minute conversation among my students. As I listened to their conversation about girls and muscles, it made me realize that young girls are still being raised to think that strong is something that boys are, and skinny and weak is what girls should be.

It happens when I go to HEB too. I am just minding my own business, picking out the best head of broccoli and I feel it. Someone staring. Some stop and ask, “Do you lift weights?” In my head I am screaming… Good lord people! It is ok for women to lift weights and have muscles. But, instead I tell them a little bit about CrossFit and encourage them to try it sometime. And then, as I walk away, I flex my hamstrings .

So, has our society truly embracing the whole, Strong is sexy thing?

stacey2 (2)CrossFit has fully embraced it. At my CrossFit box, I am surrounded by women of all ages, at all different levels of athleticism, deadlifting more than their body weight, doing pushups and pull ups, or flipping tires that are bigger than a small car. We have women that have never dreamed they would be doing some of the things they are doing, like ring muscle ups or handstand pushups, or competing in an Olympic lifting meet. Some of them walk in carrying a baby on one hip or with a toddler in tow. This makes me smile because I know that these kids are growing up in an environment where it is ok for women to be strong and fit. They will grow up with the mentality that it is normal for girls to throw around weights with the boys.

Women are meant to be strong and live loudly and fully.  We are meant to embrace our innate beauty and be confident in our strengths and gifts.  We are each unique.  We are each meaningful.  We are each a gift. We are each blessed with one body, one chance at making each second of this beautiful existence count.   Being healthy, both physically and mentally, allows us to live a fully present life.

Being healthy means engaging in activities that make you happy and make your heart sing.  It means moving your body with joy at what it is capable of.  It means rejoicing at being strong enough to lift your child, to carry your groceries, to protect yourself in a parking garage, to have the energy to chase the waves on the beach, to feel good in your swimsuit, to swing the tennis racket or the golf club, to avoid aging in pain and living your last years in a hospital bed.

It is impossible to ignore the connection between what pop-culture has deemed beautiful and feminine (i.e. thin and weak) and women’s reluctance to lift weight and increase their strength, thus protecting their most valuable asset: their health. It makes me think back to the conversation that my students had, and how 10 little girls realized for the first time that they could be strong.

When something like CrossFit comes along, something that promotes women being strong and healthy and alive and vibrant and capable, it needs to be commended and praised.  It should be stacey3 (2)lauded for its contribution to fighting against the obesity epidemic in the United States, for publicizing strength and muscles and physical fitness.

Let’s “all” redefine the phrase “like a girl,” to stand for something strong and powerful.

 -Stacey Magnesio