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VIEWPOINTS For 2013, resolve to be a 'Ms. Fit'
by KATHIE BERGQUIST
2012-12-05

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This summer's London Olympics were dubbed "The Women's Games." Indeed, in 2012, more women competed than at any previous Olympics including, for the first time, athletes from Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Qatar. On Team USA, women grabbed the majority of medals, including 66 percent of the gold. There were also more openly gay and lesbian athletes participating, among them two lesbian coaches and two out Paralympians. Never before have we seen such a strong, fierce assemblage of women and queers on the world stage. It was truly a moment to behold.

My own fitness journey is far from that of a world-class athlete. It's been a lifetime of fits and starts, good intentions and setbacks—a wobbly trajectory toward positive and affirming choices. A bookish foodie and former barfly, nobody, myself included, ever recognized me as the "sporty" type. Yet, my path to self-realization has been marked by surprising milestones, leading up to completing the 2012 Prague Marathon at age 42.

As my interests in fitness and wellness have become more defining, I've met many people with similar experiences: women and LGBT folks who did not fit the fitness stereotypes but who, nonetheless, were committed to exploring healthy and socially aware lifestyles. We, collectively, saw scant representation of our bodies, our lives or our interests in mainstream fitness media; a media that represents, time and again, that healthy people are overwhelmingly straight, white, rich, thin and able-bodied. Sure, that's just marketing for you. But listen: We—women, queers—have, for our whole lives, been taught to be ashamed of our bodies, ashamed of our desires, ashamed of who we are. And this shame is making us sick: drug and alcohol abuse, unhealthy relationships with food, our bodies, and each other… Can't our media—health and fitness media, women's media, LGBT media—do better for us?

This is the inspiration for Ms. Fit. Ms. Fit will be an unapologetically feminist, body-positive, LGBT-friendly webzine for all of us who feel like misfits in mainstream fitness culture. In addition to articles about health and wellness, Ms. Fit will feature DIY tips; content about mindful eating and health politics; profiles of celebrated Ms. Fits; personal narratives;band stories of recovery and challenge that support and celebrate our lives, provide helpful (and healthful) information and work towards building a community of like-minded misfits.

Currently, Ms. Fit is in the midst of a crowd-funding campaign to raise much needed seed money. If you'd like to contribute, you can visit the Ms. Fit Indiegogo site at www.indiegogo.com/msfitmag; or check out our provisional blog at www.msfit.com . Click "follow" to receive updates about the Ms.Fit launch.

One of my favorite among so many favorite quotes by the lesbian poet Audre Lorde is this: "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." For women and our queer allies, working to be strong, healthy and happy is an act of political warfare in a world where misogynists and homophobes have a personal investment in keeping us weak. It is an act of empowerment in a world that would keep us disempowered, and an act of defiance against those who would only see us as sick, or do not believe in the possibility of our happiness.

For women and for queer folk, the 2012 Olympics were an affirmation of what we can achieve, but most of us will never be Olympic athletes. We can, however, be Ms. Fits: strong, healthy, and happy in all of our fierce, beautiful manifestations.

Kathie Bergquist is publisher and editor of the forthcoming Ms. Fit Mag, and teaches writing at Columbia College Chicago.


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