How a sisterhood of badass women is redefining what it means to be a female athlete.
After her spine and spirit were shattered, Meghan Sekone-Fraser found redemption through a sisterhood of badass women.
When Meghan Sekone-Fraser's back was shattered in a car accident, her Olympic dreams shattered as well.
Meghan Sekone-Fraser was well on her way to becoming an Olympic rower. She admits she wasn't as tall or naturally powerful as her teammates, but she kept pushing forward and gained exceptional results.
Unfortunately, those exceptional results came at an exceptional price.
"I struggled with overtraining, injury, body image issues, and eating disorders for the entire span of my 10-year rowing career," Sekone-Fraser told Upworthy. "But I was so focused on my goals that I didn’t see the damage being done."
Then, in 2011, her dreams of reaching the London Olympics came crashing down when a car accident severely injured her back. She was in constant emotional and physical pain.
She was afraid she had lost everything.
So Sekone-Fraser changed her course. But she wasn't pleased with what she saw on her path.
Being an Olympic rower wasn't in the cards for Sekone-Fraser, but she wasn't ready to give up on her passion for athletics.
After months of searching, she discovered muay thai as a way to exercise and still exert her toughness.
But there was a problem.
"When I looked into the sea of women's activewear brands, I couldn't help but notice that I am not represented by the current brands and they did not want to be represented by me," she said. "I'm not a yogi, I don't meditate, I don't like green smoothies, and I am definitely not a size four."
She wasn't interested in brands telling her what kind of lifestyle — or body type — she should be striving for. She was looking for something that said, "Right now, in this very moment, you are powerful. You are a fighter."
And just like in her rowing days, she felt she would never fit in — until her husband stumbled upon Society Nine, an apparel company that focuses on women in combat sports.
Once he found Society Nine, Sekone-Fraser instantly knew this was the answer she was looking for. And not just because of the clothes.
"When I saw their manifesto video, I cried," she said. "After seeing images of women of all shapes, sizes, and colors kicking ass, I saw myself in the brand and knew that Society Nine had the ability to really make an impact and shift the way women view themselves."
It meant there were other women like her. Women like Maria Khwaja, a Muslim-American woman battling intolerance. Women like Mildred Apenyo, who fights for women's right to enjoy to their own space without being catcalled or harassed by men.
Powerful women who weren't backing down from major obstacles.
This kind of message isn't just one brand. It's a movement, with other companies like Machina Boxing and Kali Active getting onboard, too.
Lynn Le, the founder of Society Nine, thinks it's a good thing.
"Women have been told by society to bite our tongues, dress appropriately, look good in a bikini, be an amazing cook, have killer careers, and be amazing daughters and wives," she said. "We fight because we had to fight against the tide of expectations forever. It's time for women to define power on our own terms."
Sekone-Fraser fights, still, to repair her fractured relationship with her body. Being part of a new generation of warrior women is just the ammo she needs.
"As a rower, my abilities were defined by what I saw in the mirror," Sekone-Fraser said. "In this new chapter of my life, what I saw in the mirror was defined by my abilities. That shift in my mind was one of the most empowering things that's ever happened in my life."
"It took me 30 years to begin disrupting my internal dialogue of self-doubt and negativity," she admits. "That's a long time to not embrace yourself."
Loving ourselves is something we should fight for every single day.