The Ass Realization

SNL Screencap
SNL Screencap

One of my most popular pieces of writing yet, this first appeared on the website.

Bodies are different. We all get that, and we all try very hard to remember that different appearance doesn’t equate to different ability. And yet, I got a very happy, “Ah-hah!” moment lesson that truly impressed that slogan onto my heart and mind: Don’t Judge. You Don’t Know. Everyone Will Surprise You. Do Your Own Workout. Run Your Own Run.

Here’s what happened. It was maybe three or four years ago, and I’d just started running. I think I cheered the first time I ran around Lake Calhoun—about three miles—without stopping to walk. As I should! That’s an accomplishment on its own. I did a 5K and I wasn’t fast, but I felt good at the finish, so I went ahead and signed right up for the Women Run the Twin Cities 10 miler. Whoops! Fear set in almost immediately.

When it came to race day, I was jittery. At the start line, everyone looked ready for this run. Real running outfits, watches with timers, headbands to soak up sweat and armbands to carry phones and MP3 players. I felt like a total joke. But I was there, and I would run.

As we started running and I watched as woman after woman passed me, I also found my groove with a group of women who kept about the same pace. It was comforting to think, “These are my people!” Even more surprising, though, was that, once I settled into my pace and could take in the environment, I noticed a whole new aspect of my surroundings. Butts! There were more shapes and sizes and kinds of butts than I’d ever imagined! Just butts, everywhere. Some were in shorts, some in leggings, some in sweatpants. Some were big, some were flat, some were maybe invisible, some were underwear model “perfection.”

And I burst out laughing.

Because what crossed my mind at that moment was, “Every damn one of these asses is going to carry a woman across the finish line.” I learned my lesson in that simple moment. Not only should we not judge each other’s abilities by our bodies, we can’t. So I let go. This is what my body looks like and how it feels and what it can do. As I change what I can do, my body may look and feel different. These are not questions of good or bad, nor are they questions of ability and disability. They’re just the qualities of my body, of my butt. They’re all my own.

So next time you’re in class and you’re tempted to compare or put your own lovely body down, keep in mind: This ass can get me through barre. This butt of mine can get me through yogaand Pilates and through my daily grind. This butt? It’s fan-freaking-tas(s)tic.

About Letta Page

Founding Associate Editor and Producer (Former) The Society Pages Senior Managing Editor Contexts Magazine In Twitter terms, I self-present as a disarmingly earnest editor, translator of academia, portmanteuse, and domesticated roustabout. More professionally, I might say: I am a jargon-slayer for hire. The founding associate editor and producer of The Society Pages and current senior managing editor of Contexts magazine (the public outreach journal of the American Sociological Association), I have nearly two decades' experience in academic editing across a range of disciplines. I've edited and written copy for publications from Oxford University Press, Routledge, Taylor & Francis, W.W. Norton, the University of Chicago Press, Cambridge University Press, and many others, along with dozens of journals. As a sort of fun "palate cleanser" (trust me, when you're editing books on neoliberalism and genocide, always good to have a fallback), I write copy for organizations like Stand Up! Records and I teach cardio barre fitness classes at Six Degrees Uptown. I also have a background in the visual arts and was a founder of First Amendment Arts (now CoExhibitions) in Minneapolis, MN. I hold degrees in history and classical studies from Boston University and an art degree from the University of Minnesota. Click here to read my Friday Roundup posts on The Editors' Desk. Click here to read my contributions to Citings & Sightings.