A few weeks ago now I was invited by Society Nine to join their ranks of Storytellers. Below is my post about my journey to self-empowerment and healing and why I believe it is important for a brand such as Society Nine to exist. Standing for the female fighter in us all, Society Nine hopes to take back the narrative of the female athlete and inject it with the tenacity, grit and the properly executed gear that female athletes deserve.
If you have not heard of this company yet, they are truly one to watch.
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Meghan Sekone-Fraser: Unleashing My Resilience
My fight started in a boat. Before I ever imagined myself participating in any form of combat sports I had spent 10 years chasing my dream of representing the United States as a member of the Women’s National Team. As a rower, I never quite fit in. Unlike my Amazonian teammates, I was 5’8” on a good day and not nearly as genetically gifted on the metabolic side of things. In the eyes of many coaches, my inability to ‘look like a rower’ overshadowed my speed. I was under pressure to not only produce results but also fight my body every step of the way. I struggled with over-training, injury, body image issues, and eating disorders but I was so focused on my goal that I didn’t see the damage being done.
That journey came to an end in 2011 when a back injury I had sustained in a car accident two years prior continued to interrupt my athletic progress and impact my quality of life. I was in constant pain, felt dejected and very lost without a goal to guide every aspect of my life. Around that time I became a trainer at Crossfit Balance in Washington DC and a funny thing happened… No one asked me what I weighed or what my body fat percentage was, instead, they asked me about what I could do, or even better, what I wanted to do.
Being immersed into a community of badass women that pushed themselves each day and refused to be limited by any image standard began to heal my relationship with my body. As a rower, my abilities were defined by what I saw in the mirror. In this new chapter of my life what I saw in the mirror was defined by my abilities. That shift in my thought patterns was one of the most empowering things that ever happened in my life. There are still days when I poke and prod my body or struggle in my relationship with food but my drive to push my limits and uncover new abilities is much stronger.
As a Crossfit Coach, I always told my athletes that they should use their new found strength and awesomeness to try out and play new sports. So when I became the strength and conditioning coach for a Muay Thai fighter (who is now my husband) in a small town in New Zealand it only seemed right that I give it a solid go. I was terrible, so very terrible, but I was hooked. While Crossfit had begun to heal my relationship with my body, Muay Thai made me the student and took me so far out of my comfort zone that I had no choice but to claw my way out of the abyss that is being as terrible as I was.
When my back is playing up, my switch kicks can be a bit wonky or combinations might take a bit longer to engrain but I haven’t stopped fighting for every new skill. Sometimes I am determined and sometimes I cry but I now know that I am a badass. It has taken me 30 years to figure that out about myself and that is why Society Nine and its products need to exist. Every well-meaning comment from a peer/coach over the years; every piece of poorly made, pink gear; and every image of a female athlete depicted as a sex symbol chips away at a woman’s sense of self-empowerment and increases the time it takes for a woman to connect with her badass self.
When I found Society Nine’s Kickstarter campaign through a Female Fighters Facebook page, I cried. I have loved sport my whole life but had never seen a brand embrace and celebrate the strength and diversity of female athletes in the way that Society Nine has.
Fitness brands have continually missed the mark, objectifying and sexualizing female athletes with every fitspo post.
Brands within the combat sports arena have been the worst of all with gear and apparel that degrades and endangers the journey of the female fighter with infantile, ill-fitting pink gloves and frivolously glittered, equally pink tees and tights.
It seems like common sense that every woman deserves gear that fits their unique needs for protection and performance. It should also be common sense that every woman deserves to grow up conscious of her power and ability without being objectified. But unfortunately, that has not been the message transmitted by brands in the pre-Society Nine world.
I am a Society Nine badass woman because I don’t want my daughters to take 30 years to uncover their potential.
I believe that the female fighter exists in every athletic discipline and that every fight deserves to be celebrated and supported through proper gear, but the biggest and most important of all, through community.
This is that community.
Photo credits: AK Creative + Photography