What do you think a young disabled girl’s perspective on body positivity and self-love would be if she spent most of her childhood at a gym watching her mother, a fitness model competitor, train other fit women?
Do you think she would feel resentful and insecure?
Or do you think she would have a better understanding of self-love and women’s health?
I was born with a neurological condition called cerebral palsy. It has primarily affected my ability to speak and walk properly. I have been using motorised wheelchairs, walkers, and speaking devices since I was a toddler. Each milestone has come with many challenges and frustrations.
Although I have spent many days feeling like a prisoner of my body, I’d never wish to live any other way.
I am proud of the woman I have become. And I am grateful for the women who contributed to my development.
My mom formed a fitness team of dedicated women in the early 2000s. She competed in many fitness shows and won several titles, including Ms. Bikini Universe and Ms. Fitness Universe. She wanted to help other women in Louisiana train for the shows.
She was also raising me on her own, so she had to bring me along to every section. I was about eight or nine when it all began. As I got older, I became more tuned in and got inspired by the group.
I was more than excited to get the inside scoop on what’s like to be a beautiful, healthy woman. Most girls my age only had fashion models and pop singers as influences. I had a group of culturally diverse women to look up to.
Like my mother, many of the women were in their prime. They had energetic personalities and big ambitions. They were in college or graduating college. And they were hustling boss babes, trying to handle bills and tuition on top of competition expenses.
On the surface, they seemed so together and perfect. So it was a surprise for me to hear them doubt themselves.
“I’m still not at my goal weight. I should just give up.”
“Ugh, I hate my big thighs and calves.”
“I am failing so bad. I should wait another year.”
“Stupid breakup has me a mess. Look at me.”
For a disabled preteen with insecurities, it was a major awakening.
I remember thinking, they are all fully able. They shouldn’t have insecurities, should they?
I learned that internal beauty solely reflects external beauty. One negative thought can lead to a frustrating setback. It doesn’t matter how “perfect” a woman looks on the outside. There will always be something she has to overcome internally.
It is as important to keep the mind healthy as it is to keep the body healthy. And having a loving support system makes it even easier to maintain a good balance.
Even when negativity rushed in like an ominous rain cloud, it was always a rainbow afterwards.
My mother was a tough trainer, but she discouraged no one. She always took the time to lift spirits and celebrated the smallest victories. The group left no woman behind.
Disagreements happened, but they always stuck together. Even though the group departed after a decade, they are still best friends today.
I can’t deny that spending hours at smelly gyms or convention centres wasn’t always enjoyable. But I am honestly glad it was our lives.
My beginning of womanhood was easier because I already knew what was essential. I did not ponder over counting calories or my bra size.
I focused on being confident, and loving what my mama gave me.