Mirella Frangella | Photographer
"I’m always questioned about my femininity and whether I’m a woman or not because of my muscles. Nevertheless, when I look in the mirror, I see beauty, I see that’s what femininity is to me: a strong woman. I used to weigh 300 pounds and then I lost my weight, transformed my body and put on the musclesthat define me today. The sport helps me to feel my healthiest. The arthritis in my knees doesn’t hurt. My back doesn’t hurt. I feel great. However, the responses, that I was given, broke my heart: ‘Why would you want to look like that? Are you trying to be a man? Are you a freak?’ I couldn’t understand that it was upsetting in that way and why people couldn’t embrace, what I thought looked beautiful. I felt that, as long as I decided to keep looking like this, I was making the choice not to be part of society.
I used to work in childcare when I was building the muscles. I felt restricted because I could feel the vibes from other people. But I try to overcome this negative feeling. Sometimes I even have to overcome my own fears and myself. Because sometimes the restrictions are in your head and not necessarily there/in front of you.
My dating and my love life have just come to a complete stop since I’ve decided to gain more muscles. However, I refuse to change how I look to get a date. Either you like what you see and go for it or, if you don’t, then you’re the type of person I don’t want to talk to anyway. It‘s my way of showing my femininity through my muscularity.
I have had guys telling me: ‘Muscles make women look like a man.’ Then I tell them: ‘That’s a two-way street. Because then you also have to say that the lack of muscles makes a man look like a woman.’ It has been a steady process learning to accept myself so when I do have those feelings of not being included, I try to use it as a teaching moment.
Everyone should be allowed to look how they want to look. Therefore, it became a mission to me: when it comes to your body and how you want to present yourself to society then that should be a decision you make.
I hope that the example I’m setting in tearing down these stereotypes and myths about a female, who has muscles, will show men: it’s okay to love or be attracted to a woman who is stronger than you. It doesn’t make you less of a man. If you like what you see then embrace that. It doesn’t matter what your friends think, it’s what you feel on the inside.
When someone comes to the club just to party, but then walks away saying: ‘I have a totally different look on women now. Because I never knew that a woman could look like that and be beautiful at the same time and me being attracted to her.’ If a guy can walk away with that change of mind, then I feel: it was worth it. Every time somebody said: ‘What the hell is that out there? You freak!’, it was worth me going home and crying or if a woman says: ‘Oh my gosh! Your confidence gives me so much confidence.’ If I can get a woman to realise her own strength, then it’s worth it.
We as women have to find that voice and power within ourselves. I think all of us are very strong, but we are timid and afraid to be authoritative or even aggressive sometimes. We have a habit of saying sorry. We should just find ourselves, our voice, our strength. The more we embrace our femininity and understand what it is, all women would be braver, stronger and more in charge of their lives/femininity.
I think it’s a possibility for us to come out of this box and show the real potential that we have. We’re slowly getting there: women have started to lead countries. But there’s so much more we can do."