“I started bodybuilding after my chemotherapy.  At first it…

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“I started bodybuilding after my chemotherapy.  At first it was just a way to get healthy again.  But I discovered I was good at it.  I started winning competitions.  And I got hooked.  My boyfriend didn’t like it.  He thought it made me less desirable.  But the worse our relationship got, the more I focused on working out.  It just felt so great to be recognized for something.  I was really, really good at it.  And the bodybuilding community is so great.  They’re some of the least judgmental people because they’re used to being judged all the time.  For the first few years I was really self-conscious about my body.  But I’ve gotten to the point where the small comments don’t really bother me anymore: ‘ew,’ gross,’ ‘disgusting’, things like that.  I can usually block people out if they can’t type more than a sentence.   But occasionally the criticism sinks in.  It still hurts when people question my gender.  Or my sexuality.  And I’ve had some awkward Tinder dates.  The last guy said: ‘Holy fuck, you’re bigger than I thought you’d be.’  But despite all this, I’ve gotten comfortable in my own skin.  I actually feel more feminine now than I did growing up.  I was always skinny.  I never had breasts.  I didn’t ever feel like a natural woman.  But what is natural?  Is make-up natural?  Or botox?  Or fillers?  Or breast implants?  All of us are flawed.  My mask might be different than other people, but we all hide behind something.  I just hide behind my muscles.”
(Johannesburg, South Africa)

Source: http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/179782312536

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