Why Can’t I Ski Like a Girl?

I wanted to be fast, really fast. I started ski racing at a late age of 15, approximately 8-10 years later than the majority of people that I was going to be competing against. I was at a disadvantage from get-go and it wasn’t easy.  I worked hard at dryland and training on the hill, and went to as many races as were feasible for me. Despite my hard work, I wasn’t super fast, there was a mental block that I just couldn’t seem to overcome.

285229_10151403157551460_858730217_nOne day at training, one of my coaches told me that I was probably the strongest female on the team and I had the talent, I just needed to overcome that block. I didn’t know what to do,
and it was so frustrating. I pushed myself as hard as I thought I could. One of the last runs of that day, I was stomping in the starting gate about to kick out, and my coach screamed at me, “don’t ski like a girl.”
With fury and a hundred swear words flowing through my brain, I kicked out of the starting gate and skied the fastest run of the day, probably of my life at that point.

Why was I so mad? Looking back, I think I was mad because skiing like a girl was being portrayed as weak, slow, not powerful, and I didn’t want to be associated with that. How on Earth could my coach have associated me with something like that? Well probably because I am a girl, and I was not as fast as the boys.

Today, I still find this statement to be interesting and annoying. It bothers me because    1. It did make me faster, despite how I felt toward it, but also 2. Why wouldn’t I want to ski like a girl? Some of the most amazing skiers on this planet right now are women, and they are in my age group. But for some reason, the idea of doing things “like a girl” has always had a negative connotation. The way I see it today, I am a girl and I think I always will be, and I am beyond thankful for that. As I have gotten older, I’ve realized how amazingly powerful women are, so I absolutely want to ski, hike, bike, climb, feel, laugh, and live my life “like a girl.”

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4 thoughts on “Why Can’t I Ski Like a Girl?

  1. aledavalos says:

    Jayleen, I loved your personal experience story you shared. I was overall intrigued by your title and only wanted to keep reading your story. However, after reading your personal experience, I’m curious to know if your coach is a female or male? I feel like your experience would have been a complete different experience had your coach be the opposite sex. Regardless, it’s interesting to know how you at that time came into terms that women are the most amazing skiers and how you didn’t want to let your coach down by skiing “like a girl”.

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  2. helenlozier says:

    I loved reading this Jayleen! I think you did a nice job describing the details of that pivotal training day, it made me able to imagine you in that scenario. I think it’s very understandable that even though you were angered by what your coach said, it motivated you to work harder. I think we all (whether consciously or not) strive to prove those who doubt us wrong. In a way, having someone tell you that you can’t do something can often lead to the most self-progress or growth.

    This video is a bit cheesy but has a powerful message and it really reminded me of your memory.

    I get so frustrated when people use “like a girl” as an insult – it just doesn’t even make sense to me. Can you imagine if the roles were reversed and doing something “like a boy” was considered to be weak or inferior?

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    1. jayleentroutwin says:

      Helen, I LOVE that video! I watch it all the time and I posted it on the G+ community because I think, while it’s cheesy, it’s also really powerful. I agree that the “like a girl” insult is so ridiculous and really has no logical background.

      Like

  3. taegi says:

    Wow I absolutely loved that you share this experience! I would be so incredibly mad and it makes perfect sense that it drove you to do your best to prove your point. It is really sad that your coach who is the person who’s supposed to encourage you beyond any limits was encouraging you by aggravating on the fact that you’re expected to “ski like a girl” and that you shouldn’t. “skiing like a girl” should not be used to mean being weak and slow. It should mean the same exact thing as skiing like a boy. Reading this made me think deeper about how the physiological differences boys and girls developed. I am beginning to believe that through selective breeding and the social expectations of boys and girls, girls who are petite and delicate have been at a higher chance to be “selected” to have children and pass on their genes and boys who are big and strong have been at a higher chance to reproduce. I think this perpetually have benefited men in being the leader of a heteronormative society.

    Liked by 1 person

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