I don’t have to spell this out to you — humankind has single handedly poured a proverbial sulphuric sauce over the entire earth and we’re experiencing the wrath of our own actions every day. In spite of that, I still think we live in a great time. I never have to remove my butt imprint off my couch to order some extra hot wings from Nando’s while watching Working Moms on Netflix, and after that, yelling at Siri to adjust the light in my son’s room.
More importantly, we live in a time where women can choose to define their own beauty. Granted, there are still “standards” that social media and society impose on you, but somehow, through sheer grit and a much thicker skin (figuratively — I celebrate exfoliation), you carve out what beauty means to you.
When you work in fashion and beauty magazines for most of your life, your definition of beauty gets a little skewed especially when you’re in your early twenties trying to figure your life out. What I thought was beautiful then was nowhere close to who I was.
It’s a hard thing to shake off, that stigma that you’re not beautiful. The racism and colourism I encountered didn’t help the case, and while I practiced yoga regularly, and I “went to the gym” occasionally, I truly didn’t know how strong I could be until Ritual, a high intensity interval training opened in Singapore six years ago.
I met Shrek, their now-Master Coach who taught me to push myself in ways I never thought my body was capable of. It was not about how heavy I could lift — one of the most important things he taught me was that you have no business carrying weights if you cannot carry yourself first. And for that reason, while most people saw beauty in the lithe, limbs of a runway model, I saw grace in women who could master pushups like their bodies were machines.
Listen — I’m no bikini model but I had delts were poppin’, my thighs could probably crush a grown man’s head — but most importantly, I felt strong — and for the first time in my life, that strength that coursed through the muscles in my body made me feel beautiful. But there is a lot of power in being able to look at yourself in the mirror and think you look pretty damn smokin’.
Recently, after pregnancy, post-partum kerfuffle and the whole shebang, I found myself trying to get fit again. I am nowhere close to feeling beautiful or powerful and while my workouts at Ritual were great, I needed a push, and of course Shrek knew how to do just that. He convinced me to join the Spartan Race four weeks out.
Here’s what makes a Spartan race so freaking great — there is literally every kind of body competing. You have your fit AF people who cruise through monkey bars like their grandparents are apes, and then there are people like me — who have barely trained for it, who can only sprint after their 2-year-old. And somehow, we all made it.
When my son and my husband greeted me at the finish line, I was scraped, bruised, covered in mud and I had jumped through fire — and I literally haven’t felt more beautiful. And what a powerful feeling that is.