We tend to think of ourselves in relation to the world around us, this is specifically true with our bodies. Sometimes we carry what other people say we are capable of. As a kid going out for the basketball team, if the coach says you are too short, then it can deter you from the sport completely for life. On the other hand if your mother, puts you in dance class and praises your progress, you could develop a passion for it at an early age. What if we took ownership of what we were capable of in a way that not only transformed how we see ourselves but how other people see us as well? Faun Bistline is taking such ownership.
As a kid, like many, she was in dance and excelled at it. She was flexible and could move, always having a love for music. It took her down a road of creativity and artistry that was enjoyable and innate. Spending her time as a spoken word poet reinforced this joy and creativity without the athleticism. It is not to difficult to see how life can take you away from things you enjoy but Faun remained active in various way, but never really saw her self as an “athlete”.
After getting her career started and looking for a new outlet to stay in shape, and keep active Faun joined the Wasteland Derby Dames. Roller derby is not a sport for the faint of heart nor for the out of shape. The women that participate are tall and short, fast and strong, each with their own strengths but there is one thing that they all have in common. The women of roller derby are competitive. In context faun is not a large woman, but she is quick and agile, having a low center of gravity, powerful legs and great spatial awareness. She is for lack of better word a star. She rides in a black and yellow helmet scribed with the Kill Bill inspired “Pussy Wagon” and at number 88 she is nicknamed Hot-Tori Hanzo with further reference to the Quentin Tarantino flick.
Things are all well and good on the track, but derby is not Faun’s only passion. Just like her creativity expresses herself in different ways, so does her desire to stay active. A year and a half ago, she began lifting weights, and after some time she developed a love for that too. It is a completely different activity with a set of criteria not exactly in line with what she does on the derby track. Lifting is about power and not speed, it requires a different diet and postures. Faun having been used to feeling light and agile, now must bulk up to add muscle and sacrifice some of her leanness in the process.
” I don’t feel as fast as I did, I am heavier.” she says. But she is not viewing the weight gain and shift in size as a negative. It is actually the goal. She is preparing for her first body shaping competition. To compete she will have to add size and then carve out muscle definition. It is a process of sculpting and fitness at the same time, isolating muscle groups to tone specific areas is a lot of work. It is also a challenge to see yourself, just slightly different as a result of the work you are doing. The same work a gymnast or ballerina must do to take their bodies to the next level is required here.
She now has an outlet to once again express physicality and creativity. Not only is she pushing her body to change but it is a deliberate process. She explains, “It is interesting to used the body as the medium for expression. I am changing myself on purpose, and I have a goal in mind that I am trying to reach.” As Michelangelo sculpted “David” with hammer and chisel, Faun is sculpting her self with weights and stretches. Her progress is noticeable but she knows she is not there yet.
Now in the bulking phase of training she will soon seek to lean out and refine her shape. It is a process that is taxing on body and self image, as she changes shape, clothes fit differently, and so does the perception of her in the world. And this is something Faun is familiar with,”I realized that no matter what I look like, someone is going to have something to say about my body. If I loose a few pounds, I am going to hear that I am too skinny. If I gain a few pounds, I am going to hear that I need to loose weight.”
Fitness is a matter of finding the body you want to have, and creating that shape in your own way. Just as life is a matter of finding your path and traveling it your own way. Others will have their opinions but only you can make yourself.