By Saba Fatima
Sam recently contacted me and asked if I wanted to write another post for the Fit is a Feminist Issue blog. I felt a bit paralyzed, because I had stopped exercising again. If any of you remember, I had written in May about exercising during Ramadhan, and one of the things I commented on then was how Ramadhan often resulted in me taking an irreparable break from exercise, and how this Ramadhan was different . Well, after Ramadhan, we left for Najaf and Karbala (Iraq) for a religious pilgrimage,
and onto NYC for a wedding.
While I walked a lot in Iraq, I also started consuming high amounts of soda (it was readily available and it was super-hot).
Once we returned, I just couldn’t start again. I don’t have any excuse, I just didn’t want to, didn’t feel like I was in a routine, or something like that. In fact, I have gone back to consuming a soda bottle a day and eating quite unhealthily.
So I thought, what the heck would I write on? Too embarrassed to even respond, I felt paralyzed. Then fellow philosopher and a prominent scholar on disability, Shelley Lynn Tremain, posted this link to an article on her Facebook page Discrimination and Disadvantage, The danger of fetishizing failure in the academy. Something in that article really stuck out to me. “What I was inadvertently telling students with my cheeky art installation was that their failures don’t matter as long as they eventually succeed – and that success is narrowly defined as excellent grades.” Well, that’s how I felt about exercising. Writing a blog about how I didn’t exercise during such and such time would be wonderful, but only if it ends with some triumphant story about being fit and eating healthy, and how I was able to overcome it all.
Well, it’s a constant struggle for me and it doesn’t always have a triumphant ending.
Bio: I am an Associate Professor of Philosophy and the Religious Studies program coordinator at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. I am always in the process of getting/remaining physically active. I am also the mother of a 10 and 8 year old. I am concerned about social and political issues that Muslim Americans and other marginalized communities face and believe that our struggles have many commonalities. I am currently working on a book on an introduction to Shia Islam. You can find more about me at http://www.siue.edu/~sfatima/
6 thoughts on “Failure, Fitness, and Feminism (Guest Post)”
Thank you so much for sharing that.
I often think back at times when I was focused and intense about exercising, and I remember believing I would always be that dedicated and fit.
But that’s not how life is. Life has ebbs and flows. Injuries happen. Circumstances change.
And being able to deal with them is vital. Not to overcome these times, but to just live through them.
I’m so glad you decided to post. We’re not just about successes around here. I like it when people share the stuff that’s hard too.
And come back again soon!
Wishing you well and luck on journey of good health. What do you love to do movement-wise? It’s a big effort after every winter for me to get back more often on bike. We don’t have a car and choose not to have one.
Oh, I love this. That idea about celebrating failure but only in light of eventual success hits home heavily. I constantly feel like I can’t talk about the failures until I’ve gotten to the success part. Thank you so much for sharing.
Really enjoyed your insight and honesty.
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