First Girl Box Experience: "She's Fat"

When I was first told the blog topic was discussing the first time I got put in the “girl box” I was stumped. Girls on the run considers the girl box to be a place where many girls go around middle school when they begin to morph into what they think they should be instead of being who they really are. The messages of the girl box vary, but the overarching theme comes from a culture rooted in the belief that girls and women must conform to a set of standards that are often unattainable and dangerous to our health and well-being.

Growing up I was about as far away from being put in a girl box as possible. Somehow we had no boys in my family for my generation. No, seriously, my Grandma had 10 grandkids and we were all girls. We had a pretty powerful ban on the Y chromosome going for a while. I think because of this lack of boys it made it easy for me to do all the stereotypical “boy stuff” while still being my parent’s baby girl. My parents couldn’t keep me out of the ditch near our house where I would spend hours catching tadpoles and minnows and I had constant scrapes from crawling around in the briar patches to get the perfect blackberries. During the summers I was out until the street lights came on playing dodge ball or kickball with the neighborhood kids. And me wear a skirt? Forget about it – at least not without some crying and bribing.

And then it hit me. I let myself get put in the girl box in eleventh grade. While playing an away soccer game for my high school one of the opposing team’s parents yelled out,  “stop letting her beat you. She’s fat”.  The fact that I was a skilled player somehow meant less than the extra weight I was carrying. I was hurt and mortified and the next week started attending weight loss meetings at a nationally known weight loss center. The diet worked and I dropped weight. In fact, I dropped so much weight that those closest to me started becoming concerned for my health. If that had been the only reaction, maybe I would have started recovering sooner. But along with those concerned reactions from those who knew me, I got a lot of positive reactions from acquaintances and strangers telling me how good I looked. And why wouldn’t they? According to the media women need to be thin to be beautiful. Although I didn’t stay at the sickly low weights, I did have issues with food for years after that. It took me until my 30s to really understand that food is fuel for our body and the better fuel I put in, the better I feel and perform. There is absolutely no need to be skinny, but there is a need to be healthy. That stranger in the crowd two decades ago placed me in the girl box. By spreading the lessons and following through on the mission of Girls on the Run, we can hopefully keep other girls from falling into that trap.

 

Amy Hester has always been an athlete and discovered her passion for running long distances over a decade ago.  While living in Japan, Amy created a girls’ running club at Kadena Air Base and ran the Naha Marathon as a  GOTR Solemate in 2010. Upon her return to Gainesville, Amy coached with GOTRAC for the Spring 2012 season and recently became Program Director.  Amy is also a running coach with Road Runners Club of America and is currently working on obtaining her personal trainer certification. When she is done with her certification, Amy plans to focus on youth fitness.