Interview for VegetarianBodybuilding.com

I had the honor of being interviewed for VegetarianBodybuilding.com in 2015 in a piece called “A Love-Hate Relationship with Bikini Bodybuilding” after I did a competition in 2014. I got the opportunity to answer questions that meant something to me, especially one regarding feminism and bikini bodybuilding. You can check out the full interview HERE. Here are a couple of the questions/answers:

Q: What unpopular opinions do you hold?

“Currently, I’m exploring the contrast of how my feminism works within the world of bikini bodybuilding. I’ve had a lot of inner conflict about it, honestly, and had some pushback during my last competition, like what I was doing was antifeminist.”

That pushback felt oddly familiar, though historically, the pushback and the tsk-tsking came from conservative femafsources, not the radical ones!

I was taken aback, frankly, and suddenly, I felt embarrassed that I had enjoyed it all so much.

Last year, I decided not to compete again. Yet, I continued to think about it every day. I missed the training. I missed the dedication. I missed how invincible I felt from lifting that much.

I missed working toward a muscular and athletic aesthetic even though I was still conflicted about the pageantry of the actual competitions and the subjectiveness of judging.

“Why was I so into a sport that is based on aesthetics instead of performance? I’m still not sure.”

Getting on stage – with the tan and the heels and the hair and the makeup and the harder-than-it-looks posing – is only a fraction of the whole process, and as odd as that felt at times, I dug the glamour aspects, too. Then I thought, fuck it. Eff anyone who has something to say.

Deep down, it felt counter-intuitive to stop doing something that I thought about daily. The reality too is that my bikini comp journey inspired more women to pick up a weight than me preaching hard about the beneficial endocrine response.

Lastly, I realized, like anything else, my decisions and my feminism are not up for debate. I do what I like. Anyway, it’s been interesting sorting through all these complicated issues that have come up during the process, and I look forward to writing more in-depth about it in 2016.

Q: What have you changed your mind about in past 10 years?

I’ve finally realized that judgment is the worst kind of poison. And I’m done with it, man, as much as I can consciously be aware.

I wondered why I saw the same exact behaviors and attitudes toward women that I experienced when I was younger still existing for girls and young women my daughters’ ages, even if certain forms of it have shifted.

“We still get judged constantly by the usual suspects, but why are many women still so shitty to each other? And I realized that we’re all trained to judge women no matter what.”

We’re all too something or the other, and it doesn’t even matter what side of the cause we’re on: if you’re a rebel or conservative, some woman is doing something wrong somewhere, in any sector, in any culture, the fitness world being right up there at the top.

“I’m sick of the bulky conversation and the thin conversation and the thick conversation.”

I’m done with the fact that what we do with our bodies is constantly up for debate. And don’t get me started on our own systematic levels of self-judgment. I don’t let other women, especially my clients, talk shit on themselves around me. That conversation is tired and dated.

I make one client do five burpees any time she starts in on herself. She did a lot of burpees in the beginning, but now the story she tells herself is starting to change. The ridiculousness of not holding oneself in the highest regard is starting to become apparent to her. Anyway, I renounce judgment to the best of my current ability; I reject it all now.

Q: Fun fact most people don’t know about you?

In the early 90s, I was hired to be a dancer in the movie “The Mambo Kings.” I turned down the role because I was working three jobs then, and filming would be “indefinite.” It’s my only regret in life.

Q: What three pearls of wisdom would you tell your 18-year-old self?

Since I’m raising daughters 20 and 16 years old, I’m dolling out those pearls left and right!

Everything I say to them, I would tell my 18-year-old self – as well as repeat to my 48-year-old self.

The main things:

1. Always trust your gut, in good and bad situations. Barge ahead when your instincts say “Love!” no matter what others say. And bail the eff out when your gut says “Whoa – no.”

2. Don’t let anyone squash your power. Not a boy/man/partner, not critics, not friends or family. That’s not to say don’t express kindness, compassion, love, generosity, humility, gratitude. We do these things because they are beautiful, human qualities, not because it is our place as girls/women to be demure and modest and selfless, especially if that’s not our nature. Be truly you and be a beautiful human, however those two show up. They can – and do – coexist.

3. You are inherently worthy. Your weight, thigh size, the length of your skirt, your hair color does not determine worth. You’re already great. Now that that’s out of the way, go do some cool shit that makes you happy, which will probably make the world a better place.

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