By Sarah Odell
I was an odd mix of girly girl and tomboy growing up. I only wore dresses that twirled, and a perfect Friday afternoon left me covered in dirt, running around a field hockey pitch in cleats and shin guards. There were no showers near the fields, so my parents took me out to dinner covered in sweat and grime. Yes, I played with Barbies and flipped through the pages of Vogue, just dreaming of a day when I would wear the outfits in that magazine.
But one little thing separated me from the women I admired and the dolls I played with.
Well, it actually isn’t little. It’s pretty big. That, of course, is my butt. I also have large thighs, which my grandmother referred to as “polkas” when I was an infant. Pants were always a battle—it seemed impossible to find a pair that fit, let alone that appeared flattering. I watched women on the street with their tiny bottoms and carved thighs — and I was envious.
Envious, that is, until I started getting serious about my squash.
Squash, like field hockey, is a glut and quad-heavy sport. And while the great players are lean, they aren’t tiny. They have powerful butts and thick legs. After all, ladies, you can’t lunge with twigs. In an explosive sport like squash, you have to lunge into the shot and out of it. That movement out of the shot is where the real strength lies—you have to fire up your quads and glut to take an explosive step backward to the T. Through college, as I took my training more seriously, particularly leading up to the Maccabiah Games in Israel, I began to revel in my big butt and thick thighs. They’re my core, the place from which my inner strength emanates.
All of these women who I admire so very much, are fit and beautiful. And they don’t look like sticks. As a result, they are giving girls and young women like me a new image of female physical beauty. A fake Nike ad — “my butt is big” — stirred plenty of debate recently. The ad may have been a hoax, but the need for a conversation about the female athletic body is real.
The actual female athlete is aggressive and muscular, big and strong. It’s time to get used to it. And guess what I’ve discovered? Oscar de la Renta and Ralph Lauren and Pucci all make dresses…even ones that athletic girls with junk in the trunk can wear.