A look at life at the intersections of wellness, culture, and current events

Author: Markita Lewis

CONFIDENTIAL: Why everyone needs to have a secret project

CONFIDENTIAL: Why everyone needs to have a secret project

Today I’m working on a secret project. I’m very excited about it, and I’m putting a lot of effort into making it, but it’s a secret. None of you will find out right away what it is. Some of you may never know what it […]

WIRTW Roundup – July 7, 2017!

WIRTW Roundup – July 7, 2017!

Yikes, it has been a while since I’ve posted anything, yeah? I’ve been busy *and* unmotivated so that’s fun. On the bright side, I became scrimmage eligible in roller derby recently and got to see the Deftones and Rise Against this past weekend!  I’ve also […]

My Size Does Not Determine My Athletic Capabilities

My Size Does Not Determine My Athletic Capabilities

I get two types of responses when I tell people that I do roller derby:

“Wow, that’s so awesome! You’re such a badass for doing derby!” Or, “Wait, you do roller derby? But you’re so tiny!”

I find it amusing that people assume that my size automatically disqualifies me from participating in a contact sport. I am 5’3″ and weigh around 120lbs–I assume that people think I’m “too delicate” for roller derby. I’m not.

Athletes come in different sizes

In 2002, photographer Howard Schatz created a book of photographs called Athlete which captures the body types of Olympic athletes from a variety of sports. If you go to his website, you can see images from the book which show the beauty and diversity of physiology among these athletes. Among these images, the ones called Athletes Standing are the most striking to me. Here, lineups of men and women from a multitude of Olympic sports from gymnastics and track to basketball and volleyball are shown standing next to each other (some holding the equipment they compete with). Below is part of the Athletes Standing series.

Photo by Howard Schatz

If you look closely, you’ll notice that they’re not all the same size. Some are short,  some are tall. Some have bulky muscles, and others have lean forms. And yet these athletes have something in common – they were some of the best international athletes in their sport at the time.

So why do we believe that all athletes or participants in different types of fitness all have to look the same?

Mainstream perceptions of fitness do not always fit reality

For the longest time, I thought that all bellydancers were skinny. I attribute this belief to my first exposure of bellydancing through watching the music video for Shakira’s single Hips Don’t Lie. Shakira and all of her backup dancers were small and being quite impressive with their hips and bellydancing skills. That was my mental picture of bellydancing for years.

 

It wasn’t until I attended a talent show during my undergraduate years where my beliefs about bellydancers were shaken and dismantled. There was a woman who was going to do bellydancing as her talent that night. When I first saw the woman get on stage, I thought that things were going to go poorly, to say the least. She was in her 40s and she had a belly that extended over her waistline. Around me, I could hear people snicker and start to make jokes about the woman. Inwardly, I cringed and hoped that things weren’t going to be as terrible as the images my mind had already conjured.

Then the music started. And within the first minute I had a smile on my face because that woman could move. Her isolations were pronounced, her movements across the stage were smooth and graceful, and she was quite engaging and entertaining. Roaring applause immediately followed her performance – we were able to see past our collective ignorance to see the talent this woman had. I imagine now what would be missing from her life and the lives of others if people told her that she was too fat or too old to be bellydancing and she had listened.

This is just one story, but think about all of the other ways that our biases and perceptions discount the people who exist and do the things we say that they can’t. People will say that someone is too old, or too fat, or not the right race, or disabled/differently abled, the wrong gender, or some other arbitrary characteristic to participate in some kind of physical activity or sport. Check the links – they’re lies.

The takeaway?

We go through all of this drama thinking that we can’t participate in something because we don’t fit some image that “the typical athlete” looks like. There is no typical athlete! There is just you and what you want to achieve.

I do roller derby. That’s a fact. I’m aware that I will fall, that people much larger than myself will hit me, and that there is a chance that I will injure myself. But that does not take away from my desire to do so. If anything, it inspires me to do better, get stronger, and be able to compete against people of any size.

My size does not determine my athletic capabilities. You’d be wise to remember that.

WIRTW Weekly Roundup – June 14, 2017!

WIRTW Weekly Roundup – June 14, 2017!

Hello everyone! June seems to be flying past much faster than I expected, but I still have had time to find some good articles around the internet! How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Eat the Damn Eyeball This article talks about a Korean-American man’s […]

How I Fixed My Relationships in My Sleep

How I Fixed My Relationships in My Sleep

We are very different sleepers. I’m a light sleeper, and he can sleep in until noon. I like to sleep on my side, and he needs to sleep on his back, otherwise he’ll be in pain. I tend to have dreams all the time, and […]

WIRTW: Gulp by Mary Roach

WIRTW: Gulp by Mary Roach

Flatulence, and fistulas, and fecal matter – Oh my!

Last week I read Gulp by Mary Roach, a novel looking at the science of the alimentary canal (aka, the digestive tract). I’ve wanted to read Gulp since seeing her interview on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart  years ago about the book, but never had the chance. Fortunately, after a little bit of browsing through the public library, I found it!

Photo Credit: Associated Press

While many non-fiction books about human physiology may be dry and at times difficult to understand, Mary Roach takes the reader on a fun and interesting journey through the alimentary canal. Along the way, we visit pet food tasting facilities, a prison, a doctor who believes he figured how Elvis died, and a class for professional olive oil tasting.

Naturally, there is some toilet humor (somewhat hard to avoid considering the topic at hand), but there is a wealth of information that looks into the history of how our common knowledge of the digestive tract came to be. It’s really amazing to see the (sometimes horrifying and obsessive) curiosity and determination of these scientists to learn about (the sometimes disgusting and perplexing) human body.

Bonus – you can learn which gender has the worse farts and approximately how much uh, stuff the colon can fit!

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect for the book going in, but it was definitely worth reading!

Check out Mary Roach’s website for the official summary and links to purchase Gulp here.

For more resources on the alimentary canal, check these out:

Coming Soon: Hollywood Fringe Festival 2017!

Coming Soon: Hollywood Fringe Festival 2017!

For once in my life, I am thankful for targeted advertising on a social media website. While scrolling through Tumblr, an advertisement showed up on my feed for the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2017.  Immediately I got excited and my day improved by 1000%. You may […]

A Review of Never Alone (video game)

A Review of Never Alone (video game)

Earlier this year I came across the 2014 game Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa) produced by Upper One Games- the first indigenous-owned commercial game company in the United States. That day, I entered a stream of the game in progress on Twitch and had no idea what was going […]

WIRTW Weekly Roundup – May 25, 2017!

WIRTW Weekly Roundup – May 25, 2017!

Welcome to the first What I Read This Week Roundup! If you were looking for something interesting to read, you have come to the right place! Below are some articles that I found worth my time this week.

My Family’s Slave
Writer Alex Tizon recalls life with his family’s indentured servant who they called Lola,  how he realized that what was considered normal in Filipino culture was anything but normal, and his attempt to make amends.

The Enslaved Woman They Called Lola 
This is a response to the above article, looking at the nuances of the process of enslavement and how Tizon never fully grasped the effects of enslavement on their servant’s psyche.

Stunning Photos Debunk the Myth that Queerness is ‘Un-African’
Queer Nigerian-Swedish American photographer Mikael Chukwuma Owunna’s portrait series Limit(less) documents what queerness looks like among LGBTQ African immigrants around the world. Side note: Owunna has a kickstarter campaign for a documentary of the same name that ends June 8th.

Science Has Begun Taking Gluten Seriously
In light of the fad of people who don’t have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance choosing to go gluten free, scientists and medical professionals are putting more money and time into learning about the physiological effects of gluten. This article is interesting because it not only covers some of the recent research on gluten, but it addresses the risks that people put themselves at by following fads and why we (health professionals) need to remain updated on consumer views and health beliefs.

Wasted Energy on the Battles Against Appropriation and Racism: Indigenous Systems are Resistance
This blog post looks at the systemic injustices against indigenous peoples and makes the argument that instead of trying to police others or gain access to a system that continually tries to exclude them, building self-reliance within the community is the key to destroying colonial systems.

The U.S. is Waging a Massive Shadow War in Africa, Exclusive Documents Reveal
Special Operators in the U.S. military are carrying out nearly 100 missions at any given time (aka, every day) in Africa. Read this article to learn about SOCAFRICA and what their involvement could mean for the stabilization (or destabilization) of Africa in the future.

After Latest Bombshells, Only Michel Temer’s Removal and New Elections Can Save Brazil’s Democracy
In 2016, Brazil was busy. Not only did they host the Olympics, but they impeached their president Dilma Rousseff because she was “guilty of breaking budgetary laws.” In her place, Michel Temer was installed as president and boy, lots of corruption is going on right now. Read to see how much.

Her Eyes Were Watching the Stars: How Missy Elliott Became an Icon
A great profile on legendary artist Missy Elliot, her creativity, and what she means to many in this generation. Do I really need to say more to convince you to read this article?

 

If there’s anything else that you think I should be reading this week, let me know in the comments!

I was a University Medalist, and I f***ing graduated

I was a University Medalist, and I f***ing graduated

Some of you already know what this post is referring to. If you don’t, check out this terribly written piece made viral on LinkedIn about some guy who brags about failing all of his classes for a semester and dropping out of the University of […]