As a fat woman, I’ve felt like a freak for years. Society isn’t kind to those of us who don’t conform to the norms, and while obesity is becoming more and more of a “norm” in America today, the fat person is still a taboo sideshow.
There have always been large women. In some previous centuries it was even fashionable to be fat since, if you could afford to eat the amount of food required to be fat, you must be pretty wealthy. During the heyday of the modern circus (late 19th and early 20th centuries), however, fat wasn’t such a fashion statement. Waif-like bodies with tiny waists and big hair were the “it” look before women’s lib happened and the corset was permanently ditched. Styles came and went, and clothes changed decade to decade, but one theme persisted: a feminine woman was small, frail, and weak.
However, some women just didn’t fit that mold no matter what they did. And in the true spirit of American entrepreneurialism, some of these women embraced their outcast role; they ran away and joined the circus. These women were the ultimate rebels and freaks of society, the outcasts and misfits. In a time where women were expected to stay at home, and work outside the family residence was almost unheard of, circus women defied societal expectations and shunned convention.
The Fat Lady. The Bearded Lady. The Tattooed Lady. Even the infamous Annie Oakley. These women personified the term “circus freak.” I have a hard time imagining what the lives of these women must have been like. But it’s easy to imagine that their only “place” of acceptance was found as a sideshow for the circus.
There is one circus act that I haven’t mention yet. The Strongwoman. These women were particularly exceptional. Stronger than many men, able to lift staggering amounts of weight, and possessing astounding physiques, these women fascinate me.
Today, more and more, we are placing value on fitness in our society. This woman, the Strongwoman, was fit. She could lift incredible amounts of weight.
Her muscles and body were absolutely amazing by today’s standards.
But she didn’t live in today’s times. She lived in a world where skinny was best. Where women didn’t want to look “bulky.” Where sweating and being strong were “unfeminine.” Sound familiar?
This blog is for those women. The women like me who are proud of the muscles we have and are going to be even prouder of the ones we will get. The women who celebrate strength. Who refuse to let feelings of inadequacy and unattainable societal expectation chart their destinies.
I am those women. And those women are me. I am the Strongchick. Welcome to my world.