One of my more popular blog posts is Women and BJJ: Femininity. The article was written after I’d been doing jiu jitsu for just under a year, and in it, it addressed this major point:
WHAT DO BJJ WOMEN WHO CARE ABOUT FEMININITY DO TO FEEL FEMININE?
Fast forward to now, about two and a half years after starting jiu jitsu, and I think it’s appropriate to revisit this topic.
I struggled with my femininity when I first started BJJ. It was awkward to step across that line so far into the masculine. This was the case, even though I am not terribly “girly”. This is probably going to sound cliche…but, the more I grow up and experience things, what femininity means to me is changing. It is not about my make-up or nice nails.
This is how I view my journey in jiu jitsu – it took me so far into the realm of MASCULINE and it was an awkward place for me. I needed to reassure myself that I was still feminine. At the time, I didn’t realize that’s what was happening, but hindsight has 20/20 vision.
Nowadays I find that I don’t need that reassurance. I don’t spend the money for the pedicures, lady-colored items, or special eyelashes. I definitely don’t look down on anyone who does – please let me make that clear. But overall I find myself much more secure in who I am – and I’m okay with being sweaty and gross now. Which is utterly shocking!
For gis – I do buy women’s gis, but more because of FIT than STYLE. I do have the Fuji Summer Blossom gi, which is white with pink stitching, and I think it is SO FREAKING ADORABLE, and it’s a contrast to my plain blue Tatami Estilo 3.0 and blue Predadora.
For rash guards – I don’t have any specifically feminine rash guards, though I do have my eye on a few that are marvelously beautiful, such as Meerkatsu’s Deadly Nightshade rashguard, and I am DEATHLY EXCITED about the upcoming brand Pony Club Grappling Gear which combines kitch and playfulness – think if Rainbow Brite did jiu jitsu.
Funny – my coach made a comment to me the other week – that I was like a man. He made this comment because I’d been doing a fair amount of weight training lately and I can do pull ups and handstand pushups! He was shocked at seeing me do this and made a comment. I just said “No! I’m a woman! I’m a STRONG woman!” and I was happy.
Overall, I’m much more comfortable being a woman grappler, and I don’t need to overcompensate. To be frank, I was overcompensating – prior to doing jiu jitsu, I rarely ever got my nails done and I rarely wore feminine colors. However, I was big into makeup. I don’t think that just because a woman wears PINK PINK PINK on the mats that she is overcompensating. Not at all. She may just LOVE pink – like SL, my cupcake armbar.
Now, the Pony Club Grappling Gear stuff IS TOTALLY ME! I freaking love 80’s kitch and cute and sweet things like that. Sincerely, in Korea I could spend ALL DAY looking at the cutie patootie stuff – and my phone even has this image on it:
For women who feel that jiu jitsu does threaten your femininity, I have this to say: Do what makes you feel comfortable. If that means getting your nails done every week, wearing purple and pink, wearing things that say “I’m a girl and I kick butt” – go for it. Just stick with the jiu jitsu and know this:
My fellow lady jiu jitsuistona? jiu jitsuka? jiu jitsunista? My fellow BJJ-ladies-in-arms have you found that your need to express your femininity on the mat has changed over the years? Stayed the same? And out of curiosity – do you own any gis that are clearly women’s gis – not in fit, but in design, such as pink/purple, hearts or flowers, etc. If you DO own a gi like that, what proportion of your gis are like that? Mine = 25% – 1 of 4.