I've known Mei, since well, before I was born. Our mothers were in Lamaze class together, and I'm about 3 weeks older than her. We were raised together, and she's always been an inspiration to me. Always a little bit cooler, stronger, faster, she was a swimming champion from early on. Recently her life has taken her down a different path, but she continues to inspire every day. Life has thrown her extreme obstacles and events that would make most people crumble, but she has come out stronger. She is pursuing her dreams and living each day to the fullest. You can find her gorgeous photographs here, and follow her life adventures on her blog! Take it away Mei! -Elizabeth
When I first sat down, slowed my roll, rested enough to think about what I would write to Guiltless....I felt myself lean over to my sub-conscience and whisper: "Psst....we don't have any food worries, body concerns, or haunting skeletons about body image....Saaaaawwwweeetttt!!!" and then I thought some more....and I thought: WHY was I so quick to claim that I was not involved in a body relationship battle? Why? Then it struck me that my battle was slow moving and constantly morphing. So, here is the Mei Ratz body battle break down.
I grew up in a small town where the role you played in the community could end up consuming your life if you let it....and I did. I took my role very seriously. I was an athlete. I worked out, I worked hard, I played hard, lifted, swam, and then ate whatever I damn well wanted...whenever I wanted. I didn't have any vision, thought, worry, pondering moment, fret about weight or how my body looked....I knew it would get the swimming job done and that's all that mattered. Then I hit college where I began to swim Division 1 and while i felt constantly like my sport, education, and well being depended on my body being "healthy", and strong....I also was embarking on the thoughts that maybe I had not received the golden ticket when it came to body types. I spent a lot of my day around the most beautiful women on the planet - division 1 women swimmers....cut, lean, tall, and smashingly beautiful....but the words of trash talking our own bodies floated through our minds, and locker room. I then began gather my bits and pieces of what I WOULD have had in a perfect world and what the magazine of "Mei's body" really looked like....and the comparison wasn't pretty. I had legs that were burly and strong....but they were far from "sexy". I had shoulders that could heft a 70 pound back pack....but they did not fit in a size "small" anything. I had a belly that held every piece of fuel I would need for every race, adventure, and practice that I had at any given moment...but it was not a belly that I felt like I could show in a bikini. I knew my body was great....but it was more functional then it was flaunt-able.
How selfish and near sighted I had become.
When my swimming life came to a close I came to a cross roads of what will my functional body become when the function is not around anymore? What will my body be when I am not working out more then any average person? Will I look like a weathered toy that had her peak moments and then never saw any again? Or will my TRUE body come bursting out after 18 years of competitively working harder then anyone else? Which option was I more afraid of?
Hm. Then I found out....
HOLY BOOBS BATMAN! Chest muscles exited and boobs exploded!!
Hello tummy! and good bye forearms!
Hello smaller feet! and good bye thick neck!
I was getting "gifts" like I was a 5 year old birthday party....and I freaked. I went to the gym, I drank water, I took diet pills (Worst idea since TV dinners), I tried to curb my eating (Let me tell you that worked like a smart car hitting an elk)...and in the end I realized....
The thing I was trying to desperately to change was the chariot in this battle of mine.
The battle was not between my body parts and myself, it was between the high school body mentality I had forgotten to grow up from and the newly discovered woman body I had just been gifted. Some people don't leave the drama in high school...they just keep it forever in their pocket. I kept my expectations of that 16 year old body I had known back in high school. So I sat down and gave myself a proper talking to...and then came to the thought that....
I don't want a body of a child!! I want a body of a woman!!
Gimme those functional body parts!....they will carry me confidently in the direction of all my dreams!
Gimme those boobs!....I always wanted to shop a few hangers back on the rack at Victorias secret!
Gimme those legs that can bike me along side my man across the Burnside bridge while filling out a crisp black pencil skirt!
Gimme that body that I deserve!
I have worked hard to meet this body at woman hood....I will spend the greater part of my life being a woman...not a child.
I am a woman. Brave, confident, functional, and sexy!
By golly! Bring on the world!