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This is the twenty-third profile in our Society Nine Storytellers series where badass female fighters across all sports, media and culture in our community share their definitions of femininity, strength and empowerment and discuss what they fight for.
Have a story to tell? Submit it here! Tell us who you are, a little bit about your journey and what you fight for – in life and sport.
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 overtraining, 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 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 biggest and most important of all, through community.
This is that community.
Meghan Sekone-Fraser is former elite rower, current Crossfit and Muay Thai enthusiast with a Masters of International Business. She is inspired and obsessed with the magic and opportunities created by forming community and empowering women. After living, working, training and studying in New Zealand for three years Meghan and her husband moved back to the US. She currently trains Muay Thai at Stout Training in Pittsburgh, PA and is hoping to compete in her first fight by 2016.
Photo credits: AK Creative + Photography