Jul 18

How to Be a Girl & That Downstairs Equipment.

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.


Kelsea with her dad & sister

As I wrote in this blog initially, I’ve never considered myself a “feminist”. Stories like Kelsea’s are the reason the title seems more and more appropriate, though, as time goes on.

Kelsea is going to be 23 in August. She is amazing, intelligent, strong, caring, competent, and proficient at mixed martial arts. She and her husband own, and teach at, the School of the Living Arts in Yelm, Washington.  We worked out together a few months ago and she shared this story with me while we were in the gym. I think it helps to prove my point that body shaming is alive and well.  It also shows, extremely well, how you can do whatever your choose regardless.


A lot of people think it’s only those who are larger that get picked on but that’s simply not true. People judge you if they consider you “too fat”, “too skinny”, “too plain”, “too tall”, “too short”, “too anything” that is outside of their pre-determined ideal. People judge you if you don’t pursue the goals they deem as “acceptable” for you.


Here’s Kelsea’s story in her own words.

“Growing up with my dad, and being a martial artist, I realized at a young age that I wasn’t like other girls.

I didn’t identify with any of the girls at my school because my lifestyle was so different. While they were having sleep overs and trying out for cheerleading teams together, I was lifting weights and competing in international tournaments in Canada.

Working out meant that, as time went on, I started to look different than the other girls too. Some people criticized me for my petite frame and prominent muscles. I began to weigh more than the other girls, even though I was much smaller in stature. It took a huge toll on my self-confidence and esteem. I came home sad and confused quite often.


I started to dislike my body. The training served me well in my sport but I began to hate the way it made me look. I developed eating issues. I wore very baggy clothes. I became even less social. I wanted nothing more than to fade into the background. All around, I was a wreck.

On one hand, I had my father pushing me to become a better martial artist. On the other hand, I had everyone at school teasing me about being different.


Kelsea took 1st in forms and weapons. Denielle took 1st in forms and 2nd in weapons. <3

The biggest problem was that I had no idea what I wanted to be. All I knew was that girls were not supposed to have bigger muscles than the boys and they were not supposed to be able to literally beat them up. I knew I didn’t fit in.


By the end of middle school, it was more than I could take. I broke down in tears and told my dad I didn’t want to be a girl anymore. I was tired of being made fun of and it seemed the root of all my problems stemmed from me being a female. Because I was a girl I had become an outcast: for both my looks and my interests.

All I wanted was to be accepted for who I was and what I did. The easiest way for that to happen would be if I was a boy.

My dad looked at me, unsympathetically, and said, “What? You want a penis?”

At first I was in shock. I yelled back at him, “Of course not!”

How could he think that? Didn’t he understand my struggle?

I wanted to be a boy just so it would be ok for me to keep living my life as I wanted. I knew I would be happier and more accepted.

My dad just looked at me for a second.


Then he explained that the ONLY difference between a boy and me was that downstairs equipment. He told me that I could do anything I wanted regardless of how others treated me. What they thought of my body shape, my sport, or my personality shouldn’t have anything to do with how I thought of myself.


At the time, those words were not very comforting but over time I began implementing them. I had been the one limiting me. I had put restrictions on myself and it took me a long time to undo that mindset.


Eventually, though, I began to love my time in the gym because it would make me better on the mat. I no longer felt like I was missing out when I was training instead of going to dances. That was my choice.


Kelsea at 19

Kelsea at 19

I continued with martial arts and lifting weights through high school and college.  I no longer wore baggy clothes to hide my body. I started to feel pride. I started to feel comfortable in my own skin. I was a girl. I was a girl who enjoyed lifting weights, being active, and practicing martial arts. And this suited me just fine. I began to enjoy being me.

As I got older, my dad’s words became the words I lived by. They are the words I repeated to myself each time I felt self-doubt.

I am no longer embarrassed or ashamed of my body. I understand that I am a unique individual and there is no one exactly like me. I am no longer constrained by gender roles or stereotypes.


  • Being a girl doesn’t mean I have to conform to what I thought society wanted me to be. That’s society’s issue, not mine.
  • Being a girl doesn’t mean I have to accept different limits or more restrictions.
  • Being a girl doesn’t take anything away from me. It makes me stronger. I’ve learned how to overcome obstacles that not everyone comes across.
  • Being a girl does not mean I have to be weak and submissive. I can be as strong as I like.


In fact, it doesn’t matter what your gender, age, shape, or experience is. A positive mindset is the first step to accomplishing whatever you set out to do. Then, make it happen.  You are enough! Don’t undermine yourself based on someone else’s views or thoughts. You don’t have to agree with them, and you certainly don’t have conform to their ideas of what you should be.  Live your life as you see fit. Be you.  Do what makes you happy.”

4 pings

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