Paging Sasha Fierce
Ask me what the hardest of part of bodybuilding is.
- Is it the exercise? No (well, except on leg day.)
- Is it the diet? No (but ask me again the week before the show and I might have a different answer.)
- Is it the posing?
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!
Bikini poses are THE WORST for me, because I’m not comfortable putting my sexuality on display. Don’t get me wrong, the poses are just putting your hand on your hip and walking with swagger; it’s not like you’re twerking or anything, but I still feel very uncomfortable and vulnerable.
Figure poses are so much easier for me because they just involve doing quarter turns without falling over. Know what the hardest part of the figure pose was? Waving good-bye! I was like a deer in headlights. I was fine with having judges compare my muscle groups against the woman standing next to me, but the moment it became about letting them in to see me, and my personality, that kind of freaked me out.
There are a lot of reasons why I find it difficult to be sexy. For one, I’m a mom. Moms aren’t sexy. But it’s not like my kids are backstage with me; they’ll be home with a babysitter.
For another, I’m a feminist. Feminists object to the objectification of women. But since the male bodybuilders are wearing equally miniscule posing suits, where you can see pretty much everything, and they too are judged by comparisons of the same muscle groups, it’s equal objectification and just a quirk of the sport. So my inner feminist is cool with it.
Mostly, I’m dealing with some emotional baggage. When I was 20 years old and backpacking through France, I was held down in a car and sexually assaulted by a person who was supposedly a friend. Even though I thought I had done everything “right” – I was sober; I was wearing a conservative outfit of pants and a long sleeve shirt; I said ‘no’ clearly and often – none of that mattered because it’s not about what the victim does or doesn’t do; it’s about the sexual predator seeking power.
This was a very shameful secret I kept for decades because I somehow thought it was my fault. Doing my first bikini competition was a catharsis because I forced myself to be sassy on stage…and I didn’t die. No one wanted to harm me, even though I was wearing a bikini and sticking out my assets.
I guess I could have gone to therapy, but where’s the fun in that? Last year I took up beginners pole dancing lessons instead. It was like I was on a mission, twenty years later, to reclaim what that a**hole took from me: comfort in my own body and with my own sexuality.
This is what I’ve learned: It’s okay to be sexy. Thrusting out your hips and liking it doesn’t mean you’re stupid. You can look hot in a bikini and still be a good mom.
That said, I’m still not totally comfortable with the bikini poses. My dance teacher, Serena Hicks, gave me a good trick. She told me that when Beyoncé started her career she created an alter ego named Sasha Fierce. When she went on stage “Sasha Fierce” was able to take command of the stage and be sexy and fearless, leaving “Beyoncé” to be shy and more of a ‘good girl’ off stage.
Well, if it worked for B, Ima give it a try! Together with Serena, I’m creating a character I can be for the competition, just like I used to do when I was an actress, who has no problem owning the stage and walking with swagger. Posing is my biggest obstacle and maybe a little bit of creativity and compartmentalization will allow me to push past it.
Incidentally, Beyoncé has since dropped the alter ego and is now comfortable with all the parts of herself, even the sexy, fearless parts. That is my ultimate goal as well. In the meantime, I’m paging my own inner Sasha Fierce.
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