15.

I hope this letter finds you energised and well.

It is a huge challenge you are undertaking at the moment, I understand how you must be tired and feeling stress, not only in mind but also through your body.

I know the competition you were planning for has been cancelled due to the pandemic and that you are still trying to maintain a ‘competition body’, not knowing if or when you will be able to compete. The world is in chaos and we are in parallel lock-down, you in Spain and me in England but I know your current thoughts are most likely you won’t be able to compete any time soon. If an opportunity arises it won’t be in a natural bodybuilding association.

If it’s any reassurance to you, I understand where you are right now, I can empathise with the precarious position you are occupying. Only for you, it must be tougher than my own experience since you don’t a coach to hand over to or make the decisions (whether right or wrong); you have chosen to be your own judge, master and slave! A self-powered and self-styled manifestation of will and discipline, expressed through your physicality.

Writing in response to your piece “Transmogrification. Between Carving and Bulking. Destroying an Evanescent Body searching for Self-Identity” there were many parallels I wanted to highlight from my own experience I wanted to share with you:
You mention a lack of interest in feeling “feminine”, something that has struck me strongly in myself in many different points of my life. I also lost my periods for many years, even before bodybuilding, so I had an awareness in my life that with effort (controlling what I ate, and the entire spectrum of eating disorders or certain forms of contraceptive) that it was possible to halt my period. I guess that kind of control either made me feel god-like or somehow sick and abnormal, as if I had worked out the secret code to overwrite the body’s ‘natural’ will.

For me, it is only now that as I enter perimenopause my period is reinstated, in fact I have dieted and missed it (or it is late this month)! It’s interesting that as women, this cycle in no way colludes with or assists the rhythms and cycles of bodybuilding, but it connects us to that idea we must attempt to take control over the long-understood value of female reproduction. In fact, for me, the thought that whilst in competition mode that oestrogen may destroy my hard-won work against the body.

Don’t let me project my thoughts on to you though, I am eager to hear yours.

I reflected on how you talked about the discomfort of your growing body and how I understand your feelings and experience, but also, how I feel differently now. Reading this helped me remember how much I disliked the felt exposure of that fragile competition body that superficially looked strong. The exposure I felt was like I could not hide my form, my skeleton and that there was no comfort in my body, that my bones hurt on the bottom of the bath. I enjoyed the adrenaline of competition but the distortions and baring and frightened me. For those reasons, I don’t like the look of my bodily fat but I now appreciate how it feels so much more than before.

I know at the moment you are listening closely to your body, managing what it is asking for and what you can give it. I wish you good sleep and hope you can keep that critical eye in check.

Are you practicing posing and heels? How is it going?

Thank you for letting me share these thoughts with you.

Looking forward to speaking again,

Francesca

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