I work in an organization where differences are celebrated and representation is important. The ladies of WWE represent a wide array of women with different heights, sizes, nationalities, and ages. We are ambitious and resilient. I'm proud to be part of such an amazing group of females who are confident in their own skin. But as a child of the ’80s, I remember growing up when runways and magazines were flooded with the same type of woman—a woman that was very tall, very thin, and most often blonde. I remember wanting so badly to be like those girls. They were the faces I looked up to, the body types I admired, the women I constantly compared myself to.
I first started getting into working out in college. I lifted weights and did endless hours of cardio to make myself look like one of those “perfect,” extremely thin girls. After two years of working out for hours every day, I got so fed up. I wasn’t getting as small as I wanted.
So I turned to laxatives but then, after that, there were a couple of times that I made myself throw up. To me, it didn't seem like that bad of a thing to do. I connected “sexy” and “beautiful” to “smaller” and “thinner.” Back then, that was the only thing on my mind. Until, one night I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror after purging.
I got scared. It freaked me out because I didn't know the person I saw looking back at me at all. I couldn’t stand to look or feel like that ever again. This wasn’t beautiful or sexy. This was fragile and shaken. So I promised myself then and there that I would stop.
It wasn't until years later that I realized how lucky I was—I know a lot of women who weren't able to just quit purging like I did. But after that one night, I took a hard look at whom I saw in the mirror and realized I wanted to change.
It wasn’t easy. It took me many years to realize that physical progress would not change my life instantly. I had my ups and downs. I wasn’t perfect. I remember days when I wasn’t seeing results, but I knew the root of all this was learning how to love myself. If you don't love who you are, then the minute you reach a fitness goal you will find something else you want to change. We, as women, are conditioned to look for flaws and pick ourselves apart. So it starts within us to stop that habit.
How boring would this world be if we all looked alike? The minute I let go of being perfect, is the minute I set myself free. Free from the pressures of society and free from this image I painted in my head of who I needed to be.
Now I don’t look at the girl next to me in the gym and compare myself to her. I'm into health and fitness because I like the way it makes me feel not because I am trying to look like someone else. I want to look like me—the strongest, most powerful, and confident version of me.
I see these young WWE fans and how they look up to us like I once looked up to those women on runways. I hope they can see that I'm proud to run like a girl. I'm proud to fight like a girl! I want these little girls that watch me on TV to feel the same pride in themselves.
Do we still have some way to grow as a society? Sure. But just seeing more representation reinforces what I now know, that it's ok to be you. If I ever have a daughter, I’m proud that she will grow up knowing the era of Serena Williams and Ronda Rousey. A time when it's cool to be a badass female! Where strong is sexy and chasing after your dreams as a woman is encouraged.
I’m proud of the woman I have become and the ladies I surround myself with in WWE. For me, beauty doesn’t have to fit in a box. Confidence, strength, athleticism, and intelligence are just some of the things that make a woman beautiful. Whether you’re curvy or slim, tall or short, blonde, brunette, redheaded, or purple-haired, nothing is hotter than a woman who loves herself.