"Growing up in a traditional Filipino family, I was taught I should be feminine in everything I do. When I was younger, my parents enrolled me in ballet and gymnastics. I eventually quit, then made cheerleading my thing in high school. Come college, I learned to lift with the ultimate goal of becoming skinny.
I grew up with this idea girls had to be thin and delicate to be feminine - that’s what I wanted to be. Whenever I told my parents I was going to the gym, they’d tell me to be careful of looking too “manly” and to leave any heavy lifting to the boys. Of course, that wasn’t my concern at the time.
During the process of “becoming skinny”, I fell in love with the simple idea of progress. Each week I learned my body could push more weight. The more weight I could lift on the bar, the more motivated and empowered I became.
On November 11, 2017, I competed in my first powerlifting meet. On November 11, 2018, I broke some state records. My goals no longer depended on how I looked in the mirror.
The activities I did when I was younger taught me there is strength and power behind the beauty and grace people see in the spotlight. But powerlifting taught me there is just as much beauty and grace behind the strength and power people see on the platform.
As a 5’2” female competing in a male dominated sport, I realized femininity is more than just a physical aesthetic. It’s how I choose to carry myself - with confidence and courage."
-- Abby Mutia