On Weightlifting

I’ve never liked it this much before. Granted, I had only done it a little, before, and then only as part of a laundry list of physical activities to pursue to make time pass and distract me some. I loathed the slowness of lifting and would vastly have preferred running, but I’d already done that. 

I’m okay with the speed of it now, though, and especially with the results. Probably the more pleasing effect has more to do with  my actually having a list of lifts to make sure all parts of a limb get used (plus the increased weight) than with any diligence on my part, but I was knitting yesterday and glanced past the wrist and thought yep, yeah, that’s still me. Most of my life, my flesh has been a burlap sack that’s dumped over the stuff I value, and it’s scratchy and awkward and people look at it and think “yeah, trashy.” Or fat, or unhealthily pale, or whatever. Now, though, I’m not looking at clothes trying to consider how best to hide that which everyone has some problem with. I think, fuck yeah, those are my arms, and that will sit nicely on them. 

The appeal isn’t, as I would definitely have assumed it would be not long ago, due to perceived power either. I don’t walk around thinking how safe I am because I lift, or that I would be in any way more likely to bust heads if someone tried to fuck with me. (That’s part of the reason I lifted in Japan, too, and we see how much that mattered when someone actually tried to fuck with me…yeah.) It has nothing to do with a comparison with men or even with other women—I neither know anyone near me who likes lifting (or me) enough to talk about it with me, nor can I make presumptions based on the build of this or that person, and compare myself with the thusly revealed regimen. I’m viciously competitive and I’m relieved that competition has no part of this, as souring a motivator as it eventually turns out to be.

I think it’s that for the first time my body is actually doing things I want it to. How long do you spend bowled over by it? Turned from a spry little kid into a lumpen mess of a teenager whom even your own grandmother sees fit to poke and prod and pronounce unfortunate, then shoved off into peer groups who’d slit a goat’s throat on a mountaintop if it brought them closer to The Vaunted Tit, whereupon you are deemed old enough for the whispered haranguing to begin: maybe you should let your body drag you through more unknown clusterfucks; maybe you should get pregnant and see how THAT goes, don’t you see how everyone but you would enjoy that? Bodies, temples, magic, babies, rah rah rah.

Fuck you people, I’ve got arms with muscles now. They’re there because I put them there, not because some wretched cocktail of hormones and peer pressure dragged them into existence. Somebody else can pump themselves full of silicone then have the babies then wear the spanx to pretend they didn’t have the babies then sweat and starve away the physical reminders of every meal they ever ate, all while striving desperately not to upset (or outshine, strengthwise) the fragile self-conception of their partners who incorrigibly equate masculinity with the kind of body they too will never have, further snowballing this hurricane of mental and physical fuckeditude. 

I will be quietly lifting weights in the wee hours of the morning, and marveling at the body’s ability to rise to the demands you—I—place before it.

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