Women have always been made to conform to the notion of what “is a woman” and what “must a woman look like”. Patriarchy never wanted a woman to unlock her own strength because once a woman understood the true power of her body, she understood that she is capable of anything. As Heywood says “When a woman lifts weights, she does far more than strengthen herself physically and psychologically. She strengthens women’s place in society and weakens the old patriarchal notions of female frailty and passivity.” The muscles help women fight hegemonic standards of femininity.
Heywood concludes her book with a call for woman to “feel our muscles, our power, our terrible, wonderful, monstrous strengths by replacing light weights with heavy ones, and claiming our right to take up space. . . .”
Navreet too experienced her confidence shoot up when she started seeing her body transform. “It felt very fulfilling. In the gym I had the power and focus I had never felt before. I felt my body changing as I pumped iron further and faster. It made me believe that I was capable of anything. I realised that if you want something despite the challenges thrown at you, you’ll find a way.”
However, what Navreet may or may not realise is that she is helping break down cultural barriers associated with certain sports so that more women will be willing to try them out, while fighting patriarchy.
Women like Navreet tell the world you can look feminine and muscular. She is strong, athletic and sexy. And that is why a woman like her must be celebrated.
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