Amira L, 7th- Oakland, CA
When I turned 12, I made a promise to myself to be healthy and workout every day. My older cousin gave me weights for my birthday. So I used them obsessively over the summer break.
I built strength quickly. My arms got big and muscular. I beat every single boy in the seventh grade at arm wrestling. Even the tall boys with deep voices who thought that a girl their age would never beat them. I loved it. I loved proving them wrong. Even this one boy who thought he was so strong because he “did weightlifting and boxing”. “Amira’s gonna crush you if you arm wrestle her.” I heard some boys at a table gossiping. Everyone wanted to know my secret.
At Shabbat dinner one night, my grandpa leaned over the table and said it was a fact of life in a matter of time those boys would beat me.
While my arms were toned, they were certainly bigger and thicker than any girl in my grade. I got kinda self-conscious about it. Thinking my strong arms made me “fat” or “not feminine enough.” So I stopped my HIIT arm workouts, watching my arms shrink, being able to feel a coat of fat if I squeezed my arm skin tight enough. Sacrificing my health because I thought it was beautiful to be weak. And the day came. I felt my arm slip as my fingers hit the table. All the boys cheered. Was my grandpa right?
Students 6th-12th Grades