Stepping in or stepping on?

Tucked behind a lone tree and rusty gate, it took us a week to figure out that the billboard advertising Fitness Basics Gym was directly in front of the gym itself. The first time we noticed the sign, and with it the list of classes, we took a picture and said we’d call.

We still hadn’t the day I looked a bit closer and noticed one more sign inside the gate. “Is it right there?” I inquired. As I did, the picture became clearer: there were stairs leading down just below the second advertisement— and was that music I heard coming from below? Curiously, I wandered in and met Meenakshi, the owner of the gym.

Sure enough, just as the billboard promised, there was a full schedule of classes: Power Yoga, Zumba, Bollywood Dance (!), Extreme Core. Behind the mirrored area were a handful of machines and, further back, some weights.

I joined that night. Continue reading “Stepping in or stepping on?”


Cutting off pretty

I did not think it would matter that much. Or at least not feel any different to wake up everyday. Yet, while these mornings don’t include the necessary maintenance of eighteen-inch locks, they host the pains of not wanting to look in a mirror. Of dreading human interaction with the knowledge of what others see. Of walking around wishing for different— no, better. Of feeling a stranger in my body, foreign to the daily weight of ‘ugly’.

In not thinking it would matter that much, I thought myself imperviable to the socialized standards of beauty that surround.

I can deconstruct those standards all day long. Cognitively, I understand the fallacies in what I described above. Better and ugly jump out and demand to be reclaimed, denounced. The activist in me longs to cry out. To dream up new visions of beauty (inner Light shining through). To run up this mountain of gender norms with the speed of righteous fury, boots stomping with such power that it crumbles to dust. From which we come, I’d add.
Continue reading “Cutting off pretty”