Body image — please don't get it wrong.
I spent my teen years not really giving a shit about how I looked. To be fair I wasn't in bad shape — I've never had skinny legs and have come to accept that I never will, but I was always pretty small I guess. I didn't care about girls in magazines and on TV like a lot of people have issues with these days, but found that as I got older and into my twenties I started to think more about that stuff.
I admit I started training out of vanity, but I don't judge anyone else for doing that. I saw pictures of girls on Instagram 100 times a day that were perfectly toned and tall and slim (I never liked skinny — toned muscle was my aim) and I'd beat myself up for not looking that way.
It wasn't until I started training for purpose that my views have started to change. I have different idols, and these girls have real bodies. They are slim and muscular, but they are built for purpose and it doesn't matter if their abs weren't 100% perfect, or their boobs aren't huge even though they have no fat anywhere else on their body.
I think Ronda Rousey is the obvious one to point out here. I can never, ever slate that girl for how she looks. Firstly, she looks fucking amazing, but even if she didn't she can kick ass. Who cares what you look like when you can do that? The girls who fight for a living train harder than most people on this planet. Whatever their bodies look like — I want that. I want to perform as a strong human being, not some pretty girl who has no personality or skills but looks good on a camera.
I'm still battling with myself on this one, and some of the images on this site have been hard for me to put into the public eye. But I'm feeling more and more proud of what I'm achieving, and wouldn't like anyone else to think of themselves in that way. The pictures in this article are the ones I really cringed at, and while I'm writing this I'm still having second thoughts about uploading them.
But don't get me wrong — this isn't just about the girls. So many guys have the exact same issues as us, and sometimes it can be even harder because they're expected not to care. This is about empowering both men and women to work hard, but to be comfortable with the results they're seeing.
I think this attitude needs to be spread further and adopted by more people. Looking good is about being real. Sweating your ass off for something you're passionate about. Getting up an hour earlier to get a session in before work. Staying up half an hour later to prep your meals for the next day. If you put effort and commitment into your health, you'll appreciate the changes in your body more instead of focusing on the negatives. Another woman who's really inspirational is Mel Wells — my sister introduced me to her when she found that giving up on the pressures of dieting and expecting too much of yourself worked better than anything else. All it takes is an attitude, and then you're good to go.
I have many days where I look at myself, or look at my photos and think jees... I wish I could just chop that extra bit off there, I'm not showing that picture to anyone... But fuck that. I don't want other people to think that way, so I'm trying not to. I know I'll see progress the further I get through my training, and I'll be more and more proud of the hard work I've put in.
This blog is part of me expressing that new opinion. None of my images are retouched as you can probably tell. My body might not look perfect but I don't care. If I can train well and beat the shit out of people that's all I care about. Obviously that in turn brings on muscle gain, tones your body and makes you look healthy but I know I'll never get rid of my hips without taking something that will burn them away for me. I'll always be short, and my thighs will always be thick. But God help you if you give me shit for it.
Photography — Scott Cross