My legs are strong.
Sure, they’re not perfect. Some may see them as too thick, or see the cellulite or scars and think, “How can she be so proud of her legs?”
But I am proud. Six years ago when I first started working out on a regular basis, my legs weren’t as shapely as they are now. My calves weren’t as muscular. I couldn’t do as many squats or run as many miles.
These legs have carried me through two half marathons, a few 10ks and more than a dozen 5ks. They stick with me through long walks and propel me while swimming laps. They keep me cycling at spinning class and do some fancy footwork at Zumba.
They hold me up while I carry my niece, and walked me down the aisle to say “I do” to my husband. They travel with me to sight-see in foreign countries, or Southern cities with my best friends.
While I may fight with my own self-esteem sometimes, one thing I will always be proud of is the strength of my legs.
So you can imagine my anger when I read this weekend about The New York Times article discussing Serena Williams’ physique and how other tennis players avoid getting as muscular as she does.
I about near screamed.
It’s insulting to diminish a woman’s accomplishments in any field by commenting in any way about her physical appearance, but especially to disparage her figure.
An athlete, whose job it is to be a strong player, should never feel she can’t gain too much muscle for fear that she won’t look feminine enough.
She should never fear being strong.
I was so happy a couple of weeks ago when there was such a positive response to Amanda Bingson’s appearance in “The Body Issue” of ESPN magazine because here’s a woman who isn’t afraid to be strong, and who doesn’t care how society perceives her body.
She accepts herself for who she is and loves her body.
“I don’t look in the mirror and think ‘slim,'” she says. “I look in the mirror and I’m like, ‘Whoa, beast!'”
Serena is also an amazing example for young girls because she has dealt with people commenting about her body for far too long. And she keeps a great perspective about it:
“I learned to be proud of my curves and to embrace my large boobs and my butt,” she told Fitness magazine. “It’s all about loving who you are and realizing that you’re beautiful.”
It’s infuriating that when a woman achieves the pinnacle of her career, she is still criticized for her looks. Instead of focusing on her achievements, articles are written about her body shape.
We should celebrate the hard work these women put in to make their bodies strong enough to achieve these amazing athletic feats. No one should ever think that too many muscles makes you less feminine. Just like one’s body size or shape should not factor into one’s measurement of success.
I am going to celebrate the strength of my legs, and I hope we can learn to hail the strength of these women.
And never fear being strong.