Hey Sister, Soul Sister, Strong Sister
June 27, 2018
Allow me to introduce you to 4 extraordinary women.
Femke Bouwmeester is a PE Teacher & Bodybuilder. Ultra competitive and has been since she was a child, which wasn't always received very well, Nooki Berhitoe is another uber driven character with a sweet but confrontational attitude.
Ebony Tuhumury is a 26 year old woman doing extraordinary physical things and doing it in a way that makes you believe they are normal. Dineke Minten is a self confessed perfectionist who holds people around her to very high standards, but holds herself to even higher ones.
Four women, four athletes, and four individual stories linked by one truth...
THEY REALLY DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THEM.
Fit chicks are so on trend right now. If you were to assume that the four women on this page could be pidgeon holed under that label you'd be wrong and would miss the point of what's happening right in front of your eyes. Dedicated, competitive and goal oriented...but doing it for the GRAM and changing your opinion on what they look like isn't one of those goals. The need for self validation is paramount with all of them and that shines through in each of our conversations. When you compete in sports that are a little left field, require you to be very exposed, and where your success or failure depend on external judgement, if you don't find a way to love yourself first, you're going to run into problems. Talking to each one of these women and hearing their stories is a lesson in strength. Every single one of them is incredibly strong physically, Femke DEADLIFTED ME on the photoshoot, Ebony probably lifts more than you do and if you're still not convinced I defy you to execute just one of the pole moves Nooki and Dineke make look like childs play. No these women are legit athletes, yet it's their attitude and mental strength that shines through the most. Confident and competitive, yet extremely collaborative, they recognise they're each on similar paths and they'll get there easier building each other up.
Femke deadlifting me
“Everyone is doing their own thing but helping each other at the same time…you have an off day every now and again but you motivate each other” - Nooki
What's refreshing to hear and is not stereotypical behaviour is the willingness to collaborate even whilst competing. Nooki says it very succinctly "You can compete with people and be nice to them aswell.” and it's this attitude and the consequential support group that becomes extremely important when outside pressure inevitably chips away at your self esteem. During my conversations with all of them social media comes up and how that affects a person's body image. Nobody is immune from it and it does highlight a common thread amongst all of these women.
"there are girls if you look at them and you think they must be happy with their figure because they are beautiful but everybody has their own insecurities."
- Nooki“Instagram is not real. Instagram is (people) showing the best part of themselves. That’s a mindfuck!”
- Ebony“The perfect body doesn’t exist. I’m really happy with my body, it’s strong and I can do a lot with it.”
Unsurprisingly other men and women's attitudes and comments have a whole lot to do with it. Social media can be a beautiful thing, but the comments section can also be a cesspool filled with the very worst of humanity. Often reducing you to being what you do and not who you really are. Negative social media comments are generally made by people projecting their own values and insecurities on to others and according to Femke (and I tend to agree) a problem we all have is that "too many people really care about what other people think about them and their self value comes from the acceptance of others”
Dineke regularly encounters people commenting on posts, tagging friends and sometimes negatively talking about her figure,
"pole dancing gave me the shape I have right now. I don’t try to look like this it just happened, whether I want it or not. I try to remind myself why I look this way. I need this. I need to look like this to do my competition routine. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt from the inside; I try to forget I’m an athlete but people remind me every fucking hour” - Dineke
The more this happens the more it can eat away at you even if you know their opinions are empty and hold zero weight; and even though we're dealing with highly accomplished athletes, at the end of the day they're still human.
At this point I'm weirdly reminded about life lessons from Jerry Springer because my biggest takeaway from all of the conversations is the need for a good support system and especially self appreciation. Having a network of people around you that can keep you honest and balanced is invaluable. Most importantly though, it starts with you, you have to be your own loudest cheerleader before anyone else can join your squad.
“You have to learn to appreciate yourself. If you’re not happy with your body then you can’t shine.”
- Ebony Tuhumury
If you learn one thing from these women it has to be this, in the words of Big J himself,
"TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES, AND EACH OTHER" - Jerry Springer
"If you always want to win then people don’t like you. The only people who like you are the ones that want to win. I always go all or nothing. I know that everybody doesn’t think that way but that’s ok” - Femke Bouwmeester
A very cerebral character who is very thoughtful when it comes to training and nutrition, she has an inner drive that's inspiring and loves the mental battle of achieving her goals. For her there are no lifestyle days off but she has managed to find some sort of balance. “if you’re really clear about what you want then there’s no problem. You cannot have it all. You have to plan it out properly”
How? Lifestyle editing. Admittedly this requires a ruthlessness that many people find difficult to achieve but this is exactly why Femke is a great person to learn from “You have so much time if you use it properly, people miss how much time they waste on useless things.”
Ebony is currently the Dutch National Champion in Bikini fitness so during some downtime on the photoshoot I ask her What's next? nonchalantly she says "World Champion". She's now on her way to competing at world level for the first time later this year. Talk about speaking it into existence.
Driven and disciplined? absolutely; and a self confessed control freak who's an unapologetic straight talker “this is how I grew up, I don’t know anything else.” Her achievements come from an insane work ethic (training 6 days a week, sometimes twice a day) and sacrifice “it’s more of a lifestyle (for me). I like to get into a routine. It’s always a choice what kind of life you’re living.”
“I would love to see what my body is capable of. It’s not the goal to get a nice figure, the goal is to be better at pole dancing and to own that move. You get a nice figure as a result.”-Nooki Berhitoe
When Nooki comes up against barriers and misconceptions about pole dancing, She issues a challenge, simply telling guys “I can do more pull ups than you” or "wanna arm wrestle"?
Outgoing, eccentric, sporty & spontaneous are just some of the words she uses to describe herself. Yet my biggest takeaway was that she's someone who is constantly learning and pushing herself "Every class that I take i learn new stuff. So thats actually a motivator."
Nooki doesn't have Instagram, and uses social media very sparingly.
Wondering how to create time to do more things you love? Maybe take a leaf out of her book and put down the phone. That sure is one hell of a way of getting rid of the negative energy of internet trolls!
“I can’t go 2 or 3 days without sport. Its a drive from the inside. That’s why I’m at this point. it can’t be an external thing. This is my passion and this is my ambition. I do it because I love the sport and not because I want to get this body.” - Dineke Minten
Fuelled by an intense inner drive to push her limits, and while she recognises the value of a support group, Dineke's mindset is that motivation needs to come from within. This single mindedness and dedication to her craft gives Dineke the ability to break rules & think outside the box. She describes her deliberately unconventional style as animal movement warrior ; where she fuses different disciplines together to make something truly unique.
Highly opinionated, she bristles at the notion that she's a #fitgirl “I just have something against having an opinion without knowing the background. For me there’s a big difference between a fit girl and me as an athlete."
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