When I took my oral comprehensive exams in 2020, at the very end, one of the committee members asked me a valid question.
“Why would it make sense to be designed to be weaker one half of the month?”
I replied, “They aren’t — it’s not weaker and stronger. Maybe strong and stronger. Or respond differently. But it’s never weak.”
I think this is my biggest issue in current messages around the menstrual cycle. And why I am so adamant about calling them out is because the message isn’t “you may feel or respond differently during these conditions but are still capable”. It’s “you are weak and soft and fragile half the time”.
The narrative isn’t empowering. It honestly parallels the same archaic bullshit the industry pushed at women/menstruating individuals for years.
But instead, it claims it’s empowering because it slaps on hormones & makes you feel extra special while selling you the same message that kept you out of the gym or underfed in the first place.
I’m sure much of it is largely well-intended. And I’m also sure a lot of it is also because it’s easy to sell & $ is $. But the narrative is not and should never be you spend 25-50% of your time/life/month weaker. Incapable. Fragile.
Hormonal shifts & individual experiences of those are VALID. Intentional & strategic approach to those at certain levels or to reduce their impact are valid.
We shouldn’t ignore the menstrual cycle, contraceptive impact, or energy need differences. But we shouldn’t define our limits by it. A knowledge tool in our greater toolbox to maximize health, performance + wellbeing. But you were never and are never weaker or less capable or more fragile because of them.
At the least, it is strong and stronger.
Or always simply — just strong.