If I Had a Daughter If I had a daughter, would I still compete?
By Renee Mazza
It’s not the teeny bikini or the posing that leads to me ask myself this question…honestly I get much more disrespect just walking down a busy street in my gym clothes than I do on stage in a back pose. It’s the mental struggle that I worry about my non-existent daughter witnessing.
“But then I start to think about all the times I stand in front of a mirror in every position possible, checking to see if my obliques are showing…”
My first reaction to this question is “Hell yeah!” It would be fantastic to be able to teach my daughter what strength, dedication and confidence look like!
But then I start to think about all the times I stand in front of a mirror in every position possible, checking to see if my obliques are showing up, or if that little chunk of water weight has released itself from my damn upper hamstring area (You’d think a gallon of water a day would have wiped that thing out by now!)
Yes, I understand what lies behind these critiques…but will she? Will she know that I see my body as a canvas and not as a reflection of myself? If I have a hard time remembering that at times, will I be able to make her see the difference?
But then I wonder if she will actually be better off than other girls for learning that so early. Perhaps I struggled with being over critical of myself for so long because I did not learn to separate my body from who I am at an earlier age. That kind of revelation for a young girl could be life-changing!
“We all know that a very large percentage of those women who diet so aggressively…”
I think of all the women who diet and hire trainers when they get engaged. They want to look “perfect” on that one day…for all their loved ones and for their photo album. I get it…we all want to feel beautiful on our wedding day…but isn’t that worse? The focus is entirely on how a dress fits and how you look that day. We all know that a very large percentage of those women who diet so aggressively for that one day of being a bride do not keep up that lifestyle much after their wedding day. It was purely to look a certain way…and most likely to look more like the model on her bridal magazine but that is completely accepted and very much the norm.
Maybe to an outsider, bodybuilding seems to be solely about physical appearance. Yes, we get on stage and are judged on our appearance – somewhat. But it’s so much more! It’s conditioning, it’s muscle tone and symmetry. We need to truly know our bodies, not just see them in the mirror. You cannot succeed without understanding your body’s chemical makeup, how it responds to different foods and training, hours of practicing poses. There is so much intelligence, discipline, and ridiculously hard work required from competitors. The sense of pride you allow yourself to finally feel when you take that stage is worth every burger or muffin resisted for those last 12 weeks! And not because you “look great”…but because YOU DID IT! You made it! You committed, you sacrificed…you calculated macros at every meal, packed a lunch box for your friend’s wedding, watched your husband eat a cheese steak as you ate your third serving of egg whites and asparagus that day. And you didn’t complain!
“But there is no one way to look great! I will never look like a Victoria’s Secret model…”
Let’s face it…we all want to look great! There’s no question of that. But there is no one way to look great! I will never look like a Victoria’s Secret model…and while that really bugged me most of my life, I have learned to LOVE the body I was born with! I’m 5’3″, and I have had hamstrings, delts, calves and a solid 4-pack since the age of 5. I spent the years between age 18 and 26 trying to hide those features, wishing for a softer, more feminine body.
But then I found bodybuilding — well, first I had a baby! And seriously MISSED that muscle tone I always wished away — And then I found bodybuilding.
I didn’t get a coach. I researched and experimented…discovered the different ways my body responded to nutrition and training. I found a really awesome purpose for all that muscle I worked so hard to get back, and couldn’t believe I spent all those years trying to hide it. And finally, I 100% loved and accepted my body. It’s probably hard to believe that when you see how very critical I am of it…but like I said before, I am an artist, and my body is my work!
So I guess you could say I found a loop hole in this world where women are over sexed, underrated, and set up to have low self-esteem.
“This is the world my daughter would grow up in regardless of what I do or do not do…”
– The world where blonds are dumb, brunettes are boring, skinny girls need more meat on their bones, chubby girls need to go on a diet, and muscular girls look like men.
– The world where most advertisements will tell you that women should be soft (but with no body fat), tall (but not lanky), have photoshopped tiny waists, with curvy hips, and perky butts (but no muscle in there to hold it up). Toned arms, right? No? Oh ok, yes, but not too toned!
This is the world my daughter would grow up in regardless of what I do or do not do…so I guess my tactic with her will rest on my answer to this question:
Am I a victim of that world? Or have I overcome it?
…or maybe both?
I have learned to balance that world on my manicured fingertip, which happens to be attached to one very toned arm. I have discovered that I have complete control over my body, and that has allowed me to be free from it.
My body does not make me, I make it. I can make it bigger or smaller…softer or leaner… But however I build it, I remain the same.
With a true understanding of that concept, you can handle the judging critiques. It is not personal…it is advice on how to be a better artist. You can look in the mirror, recognize the things that need adjusting to be “stage ready” without moping or being down on yourself. You take note, make changes in your plan, and get to work!
So, YES! If I have a daughter, I will continue to compete in this industry, in this division.
I want her to be confident in knowing that however she is made, there is something out there for her.
She will know that we are all supposed to look how we want to look, and how we are best suited to look. That is not universal!
I will teach her not to spend her life seeking a means to change her physical attributes, but instead to seek an outlet to let them flourish — whatever that may be.
She will own her body without letting it define her.
Follow me on IG @reneemazza213
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Renee Mazza | Contributing Writer “Bikini Mom”
Renee is twenty-nine years old, happily married, and mama to a fantastic little boy. Fitness is a huge passion of hers, and in combination with becoming a mom, it has brought out the best in her! Aside from being a Natural Pro Bikini competitor, she is also a coach and Personal Trainer. She aspires to inspire, especially fellow moms!