Beautiful Beast

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I’ve never felt like a girl.
For the past 6 years, my life has been devoted to swimming. I am a competitive swimmer and train for about 16 hours a week. Swimming is a great way to stay in shape and build muscle mass and strength, which is a great asset in many respects.
Throughout my childhood, I was the girl in the class that could’ve been a guy. At recess, you would find me playing soccer with a group of boys rather than strolling around the school gossiping with the rest of the girls. I was the girl that was the best athlete in gym class and could beat anyone in an arm wrestling competition. In elementary school, none of this really mattered. I was well respected inside the school, and had many friends, which meant I didn’t have anything to worry about.
Middle school hits you like a bullet in the back. Suddenly, everyone seems to separate into their own groups, and people who were once your best friends now give you cold, dirty looks as you pass them in the hallways. And then the boys. Those strange creatures that used to treat you like one of them start having more than friendly intentions for you. In middle school, most girls start experimenting with their looks. Middle school produced things out of girls such as new haircuts, hair dying, clothes, jewellery, makeup, piercings, dieting, and all the works in order to make themselves more attractive. Lucky me. I was still stuck in my unattractive, tomboy, elementary school mode.
Grade 8 was when I finally came to the realization that I was never going to look like one of those girls. Growing up (and in many cases, dieting) changed a lot of girls’ figures. Girls would finish the Grade 7 year looking relatively normal, and go into Grade 8 with a smaller waistline, larger chest and skinnier limbs. This all happened to me, with the exception of the last category. Over the years, swimming had built up so much muscle mass in my shoulders, that when the rest of my body shrunk, my shoulders stayed ballooned out, disproportionate to the rest of my body. I was now shaped like the letter “Y”; a large upper body and a lower body that was less than half the width of my shoulders.
I felt manly and ugly. I had to buy shirts a size bigger than usual because the size that fit my torso would pretty much cut off all blood circulation to my shoulders. My arms hung so far away from my body that when I walked, I’d resemble a gorilla from the waist up. I could never take pictures standing sideways because then the full breadth of my arms would be revealed to the world. And at a time when all of my friends were getting boyfriends, did a guy want to date a girl with bigger arms than him? No thank you!
My manly shoulders became the bane of my existence. How I wished I could look slim and beautiful just like all the other girls. I became extremely self-conscious and felt ugly all the time.
When I look back on it all, I used to be shallow in the sense that I thought people would only like you if you looked like you came out of a magazine. Now I realize that’s wrong. I have many talents and personality traits and people should respect me for that, and not look down upon me because I don’t have a perfect figure.
Never let someone tell you that you’re not beautiful. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true that beauty extends past the makeup and hair products. What makes you different makes you beautiful. We must embrace our flaws because they are the things that make us who we are. I’ve learned to accept my man shoulders and when people in school refer to me as a “beast” or “tank” or “man”, I take it all in stride, because I know that no one else can make that claim about themselves.
Being a “beast” has made me beautiful.





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