A Warrior and A Girl


Ever since I stepped onto the blue and red martial arts mats of Carson ATA Black Belt Academy at just 9 years old, I fell in love with martial arts. I lived and breathed it. I thought breaking boards was so cool. I was giddy every time I picked up a nun-chuck and learned how to properly use it. I loved excelling in rank, and I loved competing at tournaments.

But people refused to believe I did such a sport, and refused to believe I was good at it. I remember bringing my 1st and 2nd place trophies from State and National Taekwondo Tournaments to show and tell in my 5th grade class when a boy stood up and said: “Those aren’t real! You probably bought them on the internet!”


Eyeroll.


I’ll never forget that moment though, because I grew up believing I could do anything. My mom, dad, and two older sisters (usually) encouraged my tenacity, and never once told me I couldn’t do something simply because of my sex. So at that moment, when the blond-haired, gatorade-stained mouth boy stood up and said that, I trained because I loved the sport, but also to spite him.


I know, not my best idea, but it took me a few years to figure that out.


Yes, I loved my sport, but I definitely did not love being a girl.


I wasn’t interested in girly things, I didn’t like makeup, and I despised the color pink. I would see thousands of ads depicting the entirety of the female race as weak, and I guess somewhere in my brain I associated things like dresses and nail polish with badness. I didn’t want to be girly whatsoever because of so many ads, conversations, and things said to me that made those feminine ideas a symbol of weakness. So I swore off everything female.


While my friends were busy straightening their hair and doing their nails, I was off learning armbar techniques and double-leg takedowns. I thought this was how I could finally be accepted, and how boys would finally recognize me as the force of nature I really was (especially those blond-haired, gatorade stained mouth ones). But all it did was torture me more.


My friends would make fun of me at sleepovers because I didn’t know how to put on mascara. I remember my best friend at the time handed me a pallet of eyeshadow during one of these nights and said: “Put this on, but I’m gonna watch because it’ll be so funny.”