In my first ‘official’ race as a member of Team Oiselle, I was the second woman overall. About two minutes after crossing the finish line, I heard the announcer yell “And here comes our second place female!” Um, hello? I’m over here, and I crossed a little while ago. This is what I looked like, coming into the finish:

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Definitely not the most flattering picture, and I was hesitant to send it to Oiselle as my new cover photo for my athlete page. In fact, when I told the story to my friend (who finished fourth) about the announcer missing me as the second female, she laughingly suggested Oiselle make me a shirt that reads “I’M A WOMAN!” It was funny and we both laughed about it, but this wasn’t the first time I’ve questioned what other people may think about me and my, um… physique. The short hair isn’t doing me any favors either.

And then I read the article Lauren Fleshman (a fellow Oiselle teammate, albeit a big tier above me!) wrote in Runner’s World, titled: Do I Look Like A Man?

I couldn’t open the link fast enough because I thought “Finally! Someone else gets it.” This is the picture that accompanies her article:

At least you have long hair Lauren!

At least you have long hair Lauren!

She wrote it after she strut her athletic stuff on the runway in NYC, for the second year in a row, to debut the new Oiselle running kit during fashion week. Later that night, when she was browsing the local media’s take on the line, she saw the above picture on Facebook and, although there were tons of positive comments, the one negative one jumped out at her. The one that simply read: ‘She looks like a man.’

Instead of replying only to the comment author, she replied to us all:

“At what point does physical strength become a trait reserved for men? When exactly do you cross the line? Is it the same point where courage becomes having balls? The same point where getting it done becomes manning up? Why is there no female corollary for these terms? And why do I, as a feminist, continue to use the dude ones?”

Fleshman decided it’s high time we ladies “woman up!” Now, I’m not one for corny rallying cries. I don’t think “strong is the new skinny” and I’ve never shouted out a “you go girl!” but I’m 100% behind the concept of upping my woman.

Why indeed are muscles reserved for men? I don’t think Halle would agree with this at all.

No one ever said she looked like a man. Ever.

No one ever said she looked like a man. Ever.

Or my friend Nikki who killed it in a Figure Competition two years ago:

Wa-BAM!

Wa-BAM!

For those of you who don’t know, when a woman passes or beats a guy in a race, it’s called being “chicked.” No sexist undertone in that, right? I prefer the Ragnar term of “kills” when passing another runner. At least there’s no gender bias involved.

So, how am I going to “woman up” and answer Fleshman’s rally cry? By being my authentic self. I work hard to build these muscles and improve my speed and strength. My body is a direct result of logging countless road miles, swim laps and bike revolutions. My body created two perfect human beings – – at the same time! My body, as Oiselle’s Kristen Metcalf so awesomely put it, when she tweeted out my racing photo, is “Fierce feminine!” Yeah, I’m sticking with that!

How are you going to ‘woman up?’

What do you think about this message?

What do you think about women with muscles?