i feel strong.
indigo blue.
part of your world.
part of this world.
cemetary drive.
my bike is named Appa.

I used to hate exercise. It was just a principle, you know? (These days, I only have two absolute principles: I don’t use Facebook, and I don’t drink blue drinks. Anything else; never say never). I was the girl at school who always trailed at the back for cross-country, dragging my heavy legs through the mud and swearing under her breath, finishing twenty minutes after the athletic, whippet-like blonde girls. Occasionally, I skipped, in an ironic way, to piss off my teachers. I didn’t play hockey, cause the bitches all played hockey, and they were bad enough when not armed with long wooden sticks. I didn’t play netball, cause everyone took it so seriously. I would’ve played football, if they’d given me a chance, but they didn’t.

And I think the problem with school sports is just that – it’s all sports. Team sports. Competition. Pressure. If you look down on the less athletic, bookish girls, then guess what! team sports vindicate all of that! Because what this class is really teaching you is that if you aren’t picked for teams, you are useless. You don’t have teams in Art. There is no school glory in essay-writing. We’ve already been judged before we’ve even begun, so we step back; we don’t try. As far as I’m concerned, at thirteen years old, my body is just a package, something I am entirely unconscious of until everyone else becomes conscious of it all at once, and which I will then spend the rest of my teenage years silently criticizing. I’m not gonna run unless there’s something physically chasing me, you know? I just don’t get exercise.

And nobody is ever able to explain to me, satisfactorily, what there is to get. Health? It feels so… theoretical. Fitness just doesn’t seem very relevant to what I want in life. How many times have you seen a bored-looking, long-limbed model draped over a magazine page? There’s no muscle tone there, there’s no spirit. We’re being told, a hundred times a day, that our job is to sit around and be thin. Thin and wasted and useless. And so many of us think that this is what we want.

So perhaps this is why it took me so long to realize that, though I may not like sports, I do like exercise. I love exercise. I love spending a morning with my dog, striding across the middle of nowhere, hands pushed deep into pockets and cheeks pink with cold, feeling that strange, indescribable connection to this land, the earth and sky, my home. I love strength-training at the gym, seeing my muscles firm and change, feeling the comforting ache that tells me I worked hard. I love yoga, and the peacefulness that comes with being so, so present in your own body; and the swoop of triumph when you can finally fucking do crow pose hell yeah.

It was this - all of these - that taught me that I do not want to be thin. I want to be strong.

Yesterday, I went on the most incredible 15 mile bike ride along the coast of Kyushu, and I thought, this is why. This is what’s important. I want to feel my heart beating and every negative thought and toxic feeling being flushed out of me; I want to feel the sun on my face and the strength in my arms and the muscles of my thighs carrying me along, working, doing something.

What I didn’t realise, all those years I was criticizing my body, is that I do not want to sit around and look pretty. I want to move. I want to be alive in every sense of the word.

And I am, I am, I am.


  1. I concur so much about the sport-bookish dichotomy. Health is just a social construct. Had a slight crisis of indecision myself the other day about whether to go in for the Cam Cycle Club Time Trials - I am good at cycling, but it would have forced me to cycle competitively, which goes against the fact that when I cycle I'm not competing, not dealing with hell-is-other-people...

  2. oi. I played hockey, and I am not a bitch. (much.)

    So glad you discovered the best bit about exercise - "yeh. my thighs might not fit in those unreasonably badly sized jeans, but who's going to be able to run away from THE FUCKING DRAGON faster, eh?"

  3. Sophie, what fantasy world are you living in? If you find a dragon, POINT ME AT IT. And no, you're not a bitch, but you do have a certain amount of aggression which makes me reluctant to arm you with a hockey stick, ngl... XD

  4. Oh this is such a great post! and while I myself did grow up playing and loving sports, I identify a lot with your wanting to be strong instead of being thin. It's discouraging that the media downplays the strongness of women while elevating thinness as a beauty ideal, but then it really becomes our responsibility as women to lead a generation of young girls who will think otherwise.


    The number of times Mrs Garett told me off for not participating in teams sports when WHY would I want to when what will happen is I will trip over my feet and drop the ball and everyone will yell at me because they take life too seriously. Also, I think it encourages an unhealthy spirit of competativeness, you don't have to beat everyone else to be awesome at being you.

    I'd like to meet her again so I can roundhouse kick her in the face and say 'who said I'm not good at sports.'

    Also sooo much hate about the fact that everyone ASSUMES everyone wants to be a skinny moron. Like my silly sister failing to understand that I run constantly because it drenches me in seratonin or endorphins or something and such a hugh can only be replacated by illegal drugs. Plus better enable one to run away from dragons and such.

    So yeah, you're right about everything.

    Miss you much Miss Anna.

  6. Oh fuck, I misspelled high. It says hugh. How silly.

  7. You know it, G. I would like to meet Mrs Garrett again to show her my fierce awesome guns. Like... in my arms... not my weapons... cause I don't have any actual guns. Actually she probably wouldn't really remember who I was BUT STILL. xxxxxxx

  8. when I was in the school I used to have a monomania, it is like just one sport, and that's it, the problem with this is that you get boring


© papillon.Maira Gall