I truly believe if we were supposed to fit the mold, God would have made us all exactly the same. He would have created us in a world without things to deviate from the "ideal." We are all created differently for a reason whether it be by what some believe to be a divine being or by evolutionary means. Either way, we're different.
Is this beside the point? Probably. Anywho...
I speak for myself obviously but, I am sure many, many, women will agree with what I have to say.
I tweeted recently, "Yes, I am stronger than you. Yes, I'm still a lady." This was brought on by a person in my own gym who said, "I would say ladies first but, you're stronger than me." As if my strength somehow meant I wasn't a lady. I said, "I'm still a lady, though." The week before that, I was squatting and someone told me, "Show them how a REAL man squats!" He wasn't implying that he literally saw me like a man but that I was as strong as a man. Still, why does my strength, appearance, size, etc. have to do with my femininity or lack-there-of? My strength doesn't change who I am. It is not who I am. It is something I possess. Something I have earned through years of hard work.
Let's take weightlifting out of the picture for a minute. I'd like to take you back to my childhood. During my potty training time, my mom was working and I was at home with just my dad and brother all day. Somehow, I learned how to pee standing up. My mom came home and saw me doing this and had to back track on how to "train" me properly. Even from that young of an age, I did things differently. I guess you could say growing up I was a tomboy. Whatever. I played with dolls, I wore pink, I listened to the Spice Girls, I painted my nails, etc. All the typical girly stuff. I also did "boy" things too. I watched WWF wrestling, I played with stretch armstrong, caught bugs, watched scary movies, and one year for Christmas my brother and I both got all the same presents.
I never really played sports but, of course I would gravitate toward non-traditionally female individual sports requiring size, power, and aggression. During my time throwing in highschool, I cut my hair short. In hind sight, it did look really terrible. Haha
One day in cooking class, a girl came up to me and asked, "Do you know what a 'dyke' is?" I said, "Sure. It's this thing built to prevent flooding." Then I thought, "Ooooooooohhhh. That's what she's asking." She and her friend laughed at my expense, and sat at the table next to me. On and off over the years, I have had short hair. I really like it. After a while though, I got tired of being called, "Sir." Whether it was on accident or on purpose. Even if I was wearing makeup and jewelry and spoke softly, etc. I underwent the long, arduous, and always awkward process of growing my hair out. Hoping this would help. It did not. One day I thought, "Screw it! I'm going to get confused for a dude no matter what so I may as well just do whatever I want." So I went and got my hair cut again.
My coach was surprised at the haircut and asked me why I did it. "Well, no matter what I do, I will be confused for a man so I may as well just do whatever I want." His response was not surprising. "What's wrong with being a man?" "Nothing. I am not a man, though. How would you like it if I called you ma'am? How are you today ma'am?" "Don't call me ma'am?" "Why not? What's wrong with being a woman?" "Nothing but, I am a man." See what happened there? haha
At the Olympics I had my hair braided and it was in a cute up-do. I did my make-up and nails. I wore huge, darling, rose earrings. I was told by someone after the games, "You were the most feminine lifter out there! Even out of the lighter weightclasses."
Somehow size is now related to femininity as well. The bigger you are the less feminine you are? As a bigger person myself, I don't understand that thinking. Maybe people think because we are bigger we then become "less desirable" or "unattractive" to other people which diminishes or deletes our femininity. However difficult dating and finding "the one" may be for a lot of us, I believe that way of thinking is wrong.
I do not have a "feminine" shaped body. I have small breasts and hips. I have broad shoulders. I am tall. I have fat. I have muscles. I do not behave traditionally "feminine." I spit, I cuss, I compete in a male-dominated sport, I usually wear men's clothes to train in, I'm "one of the guys" in the gym, I prefer to surround myself more with men. That's "Gym Sarah." Outside of the gym, the same me, wearing a different outfit loves mani/pedis, shopping, wearing dresses, make up, watching romantic comedies, cooking, and I enjoy the thought of a future home, husband, kids, and maybe even a Girl Scout troop of my own. I cannot change the way I look, I will not change my career, I will not change my interests/passions. I will not conform to what traditional femininity is. I absolutely refuse to do so. I also refuse to apologize for it.
I personally do not pass judgment about people's sexual orientation, the gender they lump themselves with, religious preferences, career choices, the way they dress, etc. I have never understood why and how sport/career, size or appearance, dictated our very being. It really does not. The sport I'm in, the body I have, the choices I make daily is not a gauge of my womanhood. I will not allow another person to tell me who I am or who I should be. I hope other women feel the same.