“A Beautiful woman should break her Mirror early…”

Every year four brave women decide that they’ve have had enough and that they have a voice.

But they’re not alone. Every year we have one male writer.

Our first year one of my best friends asked to write. It was a bit shocking as he’s usually not the type. His names John Winters and he is the strongest person I know but he had a story. And it was one that moved everyone who read it, “There is Magic in Fighting Battles beyond Endurance…”

The trend was something that would stick. The next year I would ask another friend Chris Schaalo to write. My thought process was that Chris was a trainer and knew what strength could do for someone. The story he told was about his friend and past Crossfit Games competitor Alicia Connors. The story that Chris shared was one of the defining moments of last year’s articles. There were other people that were sick and tired of what mass media and sterotypes were doing to people and there was a cautionary tale to tell with an ending that made you proud to stand on the line, “The Flower that Blooms in Adversity is the most Rare and Beautiful of All…”

When I sat down THREE month before Strong is Beautiful to start planning the writers I knew I wanted to have another male be part of the group. My choice this year was a new one. It wasn’t some mega strong man or a person I shared a profession with. No, it was a father.

His name is Eric Linxweiler.

Eric shares something with our past two writers, he’s my friend. He’s actually one of the best guys I know. He sees the best in people. Even when it drives me crazy he always sees the best in people. Sometimes I can be a real dick, and Eric still sees what’s good in me. Eric knows what a community united can stand for. Eric has a daughter and today he wants us to know what this message means to a father.

– Z

 “Congratulations, you’re going to have a girl”. The seven most intimidating words I’ve ever heard.  But in 2005, it was exactly what I was told after an ultrasound confirmed that our second child was on her way to being a healthy girl.  Lauren arrived in early 2006, and I had a lot to learn, but little did I know just how much.

Overwhelmed, and pretty frightened – I had no idea about what it takes to actually raise a daughter.  Growing up with three sisters, I sort of got the basics – you want them to grow up being strong, confident, capable and most of all happy.   They need to believe in themselves, as well as have plenty of others believe in them too.  And essential for me, I realized the incredible weight a girl puts into her relationship with her father.

Regrettably, somewhere along the way a girl’s journey often gets derailed with some pretty ugly and unhealthy expectations.  We’ve all seen far too many instances of “beauty” being girls’ primary focus, and being defined in rather grotesque ways (and unfortunately several stories like Alicia’s, but with much less happy outcomes). There are several billion dollar industries just waiting for them to grow up.  They want to point out their perceived “flaws” in her in hopes that she’ll spend money trying to improve herself with their products or services.   From a parent’s point of view, it is pretty awful to think that your daughter will ever think she’s less than perfect, especially when it is based on what someone else tells her.

This made me think – maybe all of this can be prevented in the first place.  Perhaps, with a little change in the way we communicate expectations and define “success” and “beauty”, we can lay a foundation where kids won’t know what it means to not be “perfect”.  We can sow the seeds of strength that come from the belief in one’s convictions, one’s capabilities, and one’s dreams.   We can teach the value of strength for those times one really needs it.  As a father, strength also comes from words I use.

Recently I asked Lauren what “beautiful” and “pretty” were.  In true Lauren fashion, she replied “pink”.  I asked her if she knew what heavy was.  She said my kettlebell (after trying to lift it).  When I ask her for the highest thing around, she points to Mt. Rainier and asks when she can climb it with me.  I asked her about fast – and she took off running.  See, Lauren doesn’t need a mirror or a scale to measure herself against.  She needs to never forget what she already knows.

This is exceedingly important for all of today’s children, who are shaping these thoughts as they battle forces most of us could never imagine.   According to the Centers for Disease Control, a third of our nation’s children are overweight, with an astonishing 18% being obese.  That’s tripled since I was Lauren’s age.  While much of the conversation is on the physical impact of this epidemic, the oft understated mental and psychological tolls can be much worse.  Learning lessons of exercise, nutrition, and attitude are critical to kids of all ages.    Somewhere along the way, I realized that this is about much more than raising my daughter (or her two brothers) – it’s about giving every child a chance to experience what it means to be mentally and physically strong.

Lauren, now almost seven, comes along with me to CrossFit often, as well as to various competitions to watch countless people work hard, sweat (even cry) and accomplish their goals. She’s witnessed high school students, moms and dads; even grandparents demonstrate what it means to be strong.  I couldn’t find a better way to teach her what it means to be beautiful than what lessons these folks present.

She recently joined me on a Saturday morning workout, wearing her favorite dress up clothes (an Iron Man suit, keeping true to Old Country Strong tradition).  When we were done with our morning fun, she asked me if she could use a rower.    Sitting on this machine for the first time was a bit daunting for her, however I was able to just step back and watch something truly amazing unfold.  Instead of me being a dad and teaching her how to row, several women came up behind her and helped coach her through.  “Legs, arms!  Legs, arms!”  “Keep going, Lauren!”  “You are doing awesome!”  She kept rowing, until she finished  500 meters, and was able to put her name on the gym’s board of fastest times.  The women that helped her that day probably didn’t realize it, but they are perfect role models for not only Lauren, but for every girl that needs to know that strength and beauty are inextricably linked.  Each of these motivating women are strong, fit, and beautiful in their own unique ways.  That morning, they encouraged Lauren for much more than a few minutes on a rower – they inspired her to want to do more.

Eventually Lauren will lose the innocent yet flawless belief that there’s nothing at all wrong with her.  And that will be a heartbreakingly sad day for me.  But I hope that what she is learning now – from me, and from you, will allow her to understand that she doesn’t need a mirror at all.  It will help her realize that what she can do, and what she can accomplish, is a measure far greater than any scale or any dress size.  On those days where she needs strength – of mind, of body, of spirit – I hope she’ll know exactly where to go find it.  She’ll look inside and reveal it…

Lauren will one day thank many of you herself for the lessons she’s learning – of what it means to be strong, of what it means to have goals, of what hard work yields.  She’ll continue improving on her 500m row times, keep running and climbing, and perhaps she’ll learn to squat better than her daddy.  Someday she’s going to pass along these lessons to others, and near the top of that list will most certainly be that being Strong is Beautiful.

Post by: Eric Linxweiler

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8 Responses to ““A Beautiful woman should break her Mirror early…””

  1. When I was pregnant with Emmett, before we knew he was a he, I was terrified of having a girl. The idea of raising an intelligent woman seemed attainable, but the strong and confident characteristics that I would want for a female child seemed so ephemeral, such a crap shoot. I remembered those horrible days in Junior High when I HATED going to school, when each ride on the bus was taunts and jeers from the older girls. Who wants that for their daughter?

    Eric, you’ve got it exactly right. Not that I’m having more kids, mind you, but if I did and it was a girl, I have no doubt that our community would instill in her that confidence, that strength that seemed so unreachable to me before. And damn it, you made me cry.

  2. Allen Nicoson Says:

    Thank you,

    I have a daughter that will turn 7 in February. I remember well that feeling of joy mixed with terror after the ultrasound revealed that my wife and I were about to get our wish

    • Allen Nicoson Says:

      (cont.) of a girl. She amazes and humbles me every day. A few months ago she put her hands and feet on either side of our hallway door jam and climbed it looking like a starfish with her arms and legs extended. She then made my mouth fall open as she did pull-ups on the molding above the door. I realized that her capacity to achieve will be will not be limited by her own vision. In her mind she can do anything, and she is right. As fathers to daughters it is our duty to nurture physical, emotional and mental strength in our girls. Thank you for sharing your words with us and your story.

  3. Thanks for your comments. In all honesty, this was a remarkable honor to share this story. Through it, I realized that not only has Old Country made me a better person, but it really made me a better father. I can never thank you all enough for that.

  4. Eric, such a great story to share, you got me pretty choked up. Lauren is a lucky girl to have a father who can embody this message for her. I remember after the Oly meet last August, Lauren said “she wanted to be strong and wear knee high socks” just like the girls she saw at the meet…that made me smile and still does

  5. When Zach and I were talking about this year’s Strong is Beautiful week on here a few months ago and who was going to write, the first person that came into my mind was Eric. I remember conversations with Eric last year during this time about the impact this all could have on younger girls and how this was a message he wanted Lauren to grow up knowing and believing in.

    Eric reminds me a lot of my father. Growing up my Dad always supported me, he reminded me every day of how much he believed in me and that I could do anything that I wanted to do, it didn’t matter how I looked, what I weighed, if someone else thought I was beautiful or didn’t, I knew that I had his support and encouragement no matter what. As a woman in my twenties I am realizing more and more how lucky I was and how much of a difference that had on my life.

    Lauren, although at times it may not seem like it, will thank you forever for being the rock you are in her life. For showing her that the sky is the limit and that no matter what anyone else thinks, if she believes she can she will. A lot of women never had that and I can’t help but get all emotional when I think about what a great thing it is that you have with your daughter.

    Thank you so much for sharing and being part of something I believe in so much, your words were perfect and your message was true and I really can’t thank you enough.

    • I figured when you asked me to write, the everyone else turned you down 🙂 Seriously, it is a humbling honor to be able to share how this message has influenced the most important part of my life – my kids.

      When you become a parent, you start living for someone other than yourself. You realize how important every step of their journey is, and how critical it is that they are surrounded by the right influences. Initially, I found CF for me, but then realized how the community that it creates is one of the best things for anyone, but particularly kids. I don’t bring my kids to the gym because I can’t find childcare. I do it so they have something to learn from and aspire to.

      Roo, you have no idea how much all this means to so many people. It really is life changing. I can never thank you enough.

      This video is proof that your influence went to Lauren, and onto two other girls. Enjoy it now, as they will be breaking your records one day…

  6. Eric, thank you for this message. Its a good reminder that we are role models and have a responsibility to spread positivity to younger generations. And you are one of my role models for what a wonderful parent is like.

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