© 2013 jen

Fit-tastic Update: Occupying Space, Personal Power Pose & Gender Roles

I’ve been losing weight now for about 6 months – eating, exercising and healing my way to health. At this moment my weight seems to be holding strong at 191, which is a perfectly good weight for me to be at and as I lose more  and more I’m struck by the fact that I’m taking up less space.

It’s interesting when you lose weight, or at least, when I began this journey, I mostly felt like the same person on the inside – at least for awhile – but then as my diet started to change more and more—gluten-free, grain-free, lactose-free—and more and more weight came off, it was as if I was stripping down to the deeper layers of myself and I as go deeper and deeper I find there is less and less of me physically, and as a result I occupy less space in the world , at least in a visual way.

I was, and still am a person who likes to spread out and take up some room and here’s why:

As a girl growing up in an all-female house with a pretty docile, but also a feminist mother, I think it affected me and my beliefs pretty much as soon as I was old enough to have a belief.

I think too, that because my mom wasn’t around much and wasn’t very parental with me, it added to my observational tendencies of the world. I needed to pay attention to cause and effect everywhere I went, and learn from it fast to be where most kids were at naturally with typical parenting.

I was a little pint-sized anthropologist, but especially in the area of equal rights for womankind, and I wasn’t liking what I was seeing with regard to women giving themselves permission to occupy space.

I started noticing when I was probably 5 or 6 years old that some girls would acquiesce to boys or authority figures in a way that I wasn’t willing to—by becoming smaller; grabbing their hands, hugging themselves, sometimes even cowering and generally making themselves as little as possible.

I saw it with my mother too. She would have a male friend over, he’d sit wide-legged on our couch as my mom sat cross legged with her arms crossed taking up less than half of the space as the man she had over was.

This confused me. My mom told me a woman could do anything a man could, except she could have babies too. I was actually believing women to be the supreme species at the time in my life, and yet my mom,  who was clearly a queen in my child-eyes didn’t give herself permission to take up as much space as her male counterparts.

My thought was, “How come the guy gets more space? Why don’t women give themselves more? Especially if we’re supposed to be equal? It seemed like a total power imbalance.”

In my teen years it got worse. Most of my friends were skinny, leg crossing, body minimizing females and I fell into that type of pattern too, even though I knew better. Even when I felt that I could or should have more space and that I didn’t need to cross my legs, that I was more comfortable sitting in a chair with my knees apart.

I can remember as I started to gain weight for the first time in my teens that I was glad to take up a little more room. I remember feeling like I had the right to be bigger, occupy more space and I uncrossed my legs again.

Over the years, when I was heavier I didn’t always like being over weight, but I felt very comfortable occupying more space.

My natural tendency has always been to take up room. My favorite stance is with my hands on my hips. It’s just more comfortable to me. When I’m singing or dancing I try to take up as much room as I can; moving around, flailing a bit, wide hip movements, kicking my legs to the side in wide kicks, spreading my arms wide and splaying my fingers.

This is something I think about, especially when I’m around a woman who is visibly trying to be tinier and more passive in her body positioning.

My thought has always been,

Why would you give yourself so little room?
Spread out.
There’s more room for you to take.
Claim your space and your power.
Girl, uncross your legs.

As I’ve been losing more and more weight, physically occupying less space, I’ve been thinking to myself that I want to keep the space I had before, but not with my body, with my energy and with my presence. 

The way I imagine my energy is as if light is shooting out of me, from all points of my body and all the way into the sky.

What’s funny is, I went to a psychic once and when I came inside she said, “Wow, you travel in a pack, don’t you?” I said, “What do you mean?” She said, “You have an army of people on the other side who travel with you everywhere and help you with everything you do. That’s why you’re such an energetic person. The light they provide from the other side is so big and you’re the conduit for it,  your light is enormous.”

I was like, Whoa! Could that be happening? I don’t care, I like it no matter what the truth is. <— A little magical thinking never hurt anyone.

So, yes, I’m someone who seriously thinks about my right to occupy space energetically –

I want to be HUGE with my bad self.

I think that’s why I found this video posted by my friend, Leah Pellegrini so interesting.

In this video, Amy Cuddy does a great job of explaining why our body language shapes who we are.

How, the space we occupy or deny ourselves affects how we feel about ourselves and our power in the world.

By giving ourselves permission to strike a power pose – claim space –
we can actually feel more powerful.

Why did I already know this on an intuitive level?


I think the reason I’ve always seen outside of the gender, space-occupying matrix is because I’m a woman with naturally high testosterone. I must have a lot of estrogen too because I present and feel like a woman, I’m not especially dudely. It’s just that there are qualities about me that I think are related to my own internal hormone levels. Well, that and by my observations of space occupying by men and women.

Just for the sake of this conversation, why do I think I have high testosterone? Here’s my evidence and these are just a few reasons, there are so many others:

1. Boldness – the higher a person’s testosterone level – male or female – the more bold they are naturally. I’m a notoriously bold individual. Even when I’m afraid, I’m doing it anyway. I just have to. It’s in my nature. Baby, I was born this way.

2. 3-D thinking – I can pretty much manipulate most things in my mind and then create them in the real world – mostly without a pattern and often with very little knowledge of the medium. I can also tell by looking at many things how to make them. This is how I started designing in crochet, years ago with my first handmade business. I’d think about it for awhile and then I’d crochet it, and it would work. Sometimes the scale was off a bit, but pretty much, I can do this with anything build-able. This type of thinking is attributed to testosterone, that’s why more men than women are often builders.

3. Family members with high T – In talking with one of my nieces on my father’s side, it’s come to light that many of my family members have high testosterone too, male and female. Not all of them, but many. My father was a broad chested, tough guy, the sort that would get into bar fights and such- very physical. I know I come by my badassedness honestly, by way of genetics and hormones.

So how about you? Do you think about the space you occupy?

Do you give yourself some elbow room, so you can strike a power pose position? Do you believe it’s OK for you to have more space? If you’re a woman, do you find yourself feeling uncomfortable when you do take up space? Does this cause you to try to make yourself small?

If so, try this:

Spread out a little.
Stretch your arms wide and put them on your hips.
Stand up tall and proud.
Let your knees fall apart and take up some room.
We all deserve to have as much a space as we want and if you’re working on space energetically there’s actually an infinite amount of space to occupy.

So who do you want to be? How powerful do you want to feel? Changing your body positioning can change how you feel in the world.

You have the power to control how powerful you feel daily.

Will you give yourself permission to strike a power pose
or occupy more space energetically?