“I would have loved to have been a boxer” – Libération

“I would have loved to have been a boxer” – Libération

By publishing these testimonies, Libération is continuing its editorial adventure with the Priority Expression Zone, a participatory media outlet that lets young people hear their voices in all their diversity and on all the subjects that concern them. These stories, also to be discovered on Zep. media, provide an unprecedented panorama of young people in France. Find previous publications.

“My brother was forced to join a football club”

Nyota, 20 years old, student, Noisiel (Seine-et-Marne)

“Dad, Mom, I want to do judo!

― No, my daughter, it’s too physical for you.

— Dad, mom, I want to do judo!

— Go ahead, boy, Teddy Riner is inside you!

— Mom, Dad, I want to do boxing!

— No, my little one, do gymnastics, it’s more graceful.

— Mom, Dad, I want to do boxing!

— Very good initiative son.

— Dad, mom, do you know Clarisse Agbegnenou, Myriam Lamare or Eugénie Le Sommer?

— Yes, my daughter, they are great athletes!

– So why not me ?

“I am the eldest of three children. My 11-year-old little brother was the “sporty” one in the family. However, he was never a fan of any sport. His “career”, as my father says, started quite late. When he was 10, he was forced to join a football club. Despite his cries and cries, he finally decided to do it. For me, since I was very little, my agility, my speed, my strength, my energy have been preponderant. In boxing, football or judo, I never missed an opportunity to go for it! But when my brother was playing at the city stadium down the road with his friends, I was working. I had to stay to revise my lessons. I was destined to be an office lady. In my family, it’s a flex [une compétence très valorisée, ndlr] ! The job of excellence for a girl like me who was good at school. The very image of financial stability. As my father says: “With this job, you will easily find a husband!” So a career as a boxer or judoka was dead in the game! I would have loved to be a boxer… Today, I am 20 years old and my brother is 18 years old. I am a plump young woman and proud of it. My brother is studying to become an accountant. He still plays for a football club, but his sporting career has not taken off. And my parents’ speech is very different. Not long ago, my father looked at me and said, “Daughter, you eat too much. You have to do sports. Join a club, otherwise you will never find a husband!”

Banned from “guy sports”

Amy, 18 years old, student, Melun (Seine-et-Marne)

“My dream, basically, is to be a champion. Surpassing myself to say, “You did it!” The main obstacle is my parents. Every time we talk about sports, they tell me that I don’t have time because of classes or that I’m going to look like a boy. They have a vision of sport that is so different from mine! I come from Ivory Coast where the women are rather round, with beautiful shapes. For us, a “loaded” woman (big buttocks and big breasts) is synonymous with good nutrition and good health, and a thin woman is a poor and poorly nourished person. I am the only one in my family who does not have the right physique: I am very skinny and very small. I have always been self-conscious about my body and certain comments about it.

“The only sports I can do are the ones my parents call “girl’s sports” like dancing or swimming. Sports that I feel uncomfortable and less good at than most other girls. In final year, when we were in contemporary dance, they all did well and did the movements. I was forcing myself. I also had basketball in high school. It was the opposite of dancing. If anyone made comments to me in dance, I shut myself down, whereas in basketball it went over my head. I felt good. I was even too dynamic! In fact, football, basketball and even athletics are really me. You know, “guy’s sports”.

“When I was a kid, my dad let me do it, because at that time people didn’t care what I looked like. We often went to play football with guys from the HLM. He complimented me and encouraged me. Since I run very fast, I wanted to showcase my talent by doing athletics. But my parents told me: “It’s a boy’s sport, you’ll be too muscular.” I obviously respected their choice.

“This year I turned 18 and I went to the gym without telling my mother. That evening when I got home, I confessed to him. I expected her to yell at me. And actually, she asked me to go with her. I was surprised and relieved. It would have been complicated to go there in secret. In a while, I feel like I’m going to start getting the physique I want. The one in which I feel comfortable. Because I decided to be autonomous, free to make my own choices.”

“I would like to go to the swimming pool without the boys”

Manon, 17 years old, high school student, Franconville (Val-d’Oise)

““You’re good, you have big butt and big breasts.” I am shocked when I hear these words. I come to the pool to swim and, at 16, people say that to me. The pool is cool though. We’re among friends, but the presence of the boys bothers us. Their looks especially on our forms, their misplaced minds. I just want to tell them to stop. They also allow themselves reflections like: “She is good, we have to manage her”, “She is as flat as a wall.” They make me hate the swimming pool even though I like going there on vacation with my girlfriends. As soon as guys chat with friends, you feel like it’s talking about you. I don’t want to hear that kind of thing. But even looks are enough to know what they’re thinking. So, I often find excuses not to go. I say I’m sick or I’m on my period. It’s me who says the word instead of my parents. And it happens. You just have to imitate the signature, that’s all. In my ideal world, I would like to go to the pool without the boys. I would be more comfortable and I wouldn’t doubt myself.”


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