It has been a while. I think I have not posted here for years. Maybe because I was discouraged from the last competition and maybe because I don’t feel that drive that I once did that kept me enthralled in a healthier lifestyle. But two weeks ago, I attended the Red Clay Writing Institute in Athens, Georgia and the workshop reminded me that I am a writer. I think that I forget! Not only do I want to write again, I am more willing to share some of the stories that have not been shared in the past. I have written a very short story about my first bodybuilding competition and those who have competed will relate. Here it is. My first post since October 2014.
She stood behind the curtain backstage. As the MC called her name, she found herself shaking and thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” Her hand moved across the back of her suit as she made sure it was still in place. She looked down at her chest to see if anything was sticking out. The last thing she wanted to do was flash the audience. The MC ended his introduction and she stepped with one foot in front of the other until she was fully past the curtain. Good thing she had a little sip of wine because she was about two seconds away from passing out. The music was turned up loud and she looked out at the crowd but the only thing visible were the bright lights, the row of judges in the front of the auditorium and her boyfriend. Making her way across the stage in those five inch heels started to become easier with each step.
The first pose was one that she practiced over and over again with her coach. Left hand on her hip, right leg out to the side and a big grin with eyes on the judges. Her muscles flexed as she held the pose for a few seconds, but her face still looked relaxed. If only the audience knew how painful it was to hold those poses. She walked to the right of the stage and turned, showing her well-earned striations. Then she moved to the middle again with her eyes on the crowd. This was no time to be nervous. She had suffered through grueling workouts and walked a very fine line between fat loss and starvation for twelve long weeks. As she walked to the left, she thought about all of the food she was going to eat after the night was over. She turned around and showed off the v-taper on her lean back, and back around to display her six-pack abs. None of the women were as lean as her. After the T-walk on stage she went behind the curtain and her coach congratulated her. Never in a million years did she think that she would compete in such an event!
All the women went out together and followed the instructions of the judges. “Quarter turn to the right, quarter turn to the left, face the back, face the front.” They were up there for what seemed like forever. One by one, the award winners were called out on the stage and she heard her name. Fourth place! Not bad for a first timer. She was inspired beyond measure and she was inspiring others. Just a few years ago she was overweight, unhealthy and unhappy. The next day she talked to the head judge and asked for feedback. “You were just too lean. That was extreme. Nobody wants to see that.” Did he not realize how hard she had worked for her body? His words cut her like a knife. In her mind, her muscles showed her hard work and dedication that none of the other women had. But in his opinion, she should have been softer. Forget that! If she was going to do this, she was going to go all out. She could be “soft” by just not working out, but this was bodybuilding for God’s sake. When she was obese no one told her to lose weight so she could be healthy, but here she was talking to a man who promoted a healthy lifestyle telling her that she went too far. A Black man who should have been supportive of his Black sisters.
It was in that moment that she realized no matter what you do to your body there will be people who don’t like it. Too muscular? You look like a man. Too soft? You are fat. Small ass? Get some butt injections. Breasts small? Get some implants? Hair nappy and too Black looking? Get a relaxer to look Whiter. Bodybuilding taught her discipline and pride and she learned to love herself for who she was no matter what the judges thought or anyone else who decided to judge her body.