I raced to the back if the gym towards the personal training offices, package held tight against my chest. With an exhilaration thst only a long awaited delivery can bring I tore at the white plastic mailing envelope. My singlet had arrived. Now before you begin imagining some variance on fancy lingerie allow ne to spoil your fantasy. THIS was a Powerlifting Singlet. Designed to be the most unflattering thing a woman might ever wear – and I couldn’t wait to try it on.
The singlet was black and red. It was the exact model I had my eyes on from the moment I decided to enter a powerlifting competition. Red was a must – it had to be red. Red makes me feel brave and confident. Any time I have done public speaking, gone to a job interview, in fact even at my wedding, I have always worn something red. This singlet however was only the beginning of my heroic costume.
From my bag I grab a pair of leggings and a long sleeve shirt. What is a hero without tights, am I right? I had spent months trying to find the right material to fit the guidelines provided by the Canadian Powerlifting Union for female Muslim lifters. They had just amended their rules 4th months prior to officially allow for the wearing of hijab and a long “bodysuit” to be worn under the singlet. It was tremendous news for me as I thought I would never have the opportunity to lift ar any powerlifting meet. The only thing I had found which met the material restrictions was a pant and shirt set of runners thermals. At least I’d stay warm.
I rushed from the office to the women’s change room to try it on. I love how it felt, it fit perfectly! I felt strong and confident – I can do this! I looked in the mirror and my heart sank. I didn’t look like those photos I had seen on instagram. I looked fat, and my butt seemed dispoportionally large. The evil, negative, self-destructive voices began swarming, circling and screaming like shrill harpies.
I noticed the red of my singlet. I look good in red. I look powerful in red. These strong legs and this squat booty have taken me far and helped me achieve things I’ve only dreamed. I am proud of my strong body – societal pressures of beauty be damned!
So I took a picture of me in my singlet; curves, bumps, rolls, and all. This was the day I learned to love and accept my body. The harpies fled the power off my self acceptance and sell love broke the curse of perfectionism.
I carefully folded and packed away my singlet for a future date on the platform, and walked out of the change room – changed.