Guest Post

In Admiration of Badass Women (Guest post)

by Nicole Plotkin

I was watching a show on Netflix, called Unbelievable.  While I was crushing on Toni Collette, I said to my husband, “in case you didn’t know, I love her, she’s badass”.  He looked at me and said, no she’s not.  I said yes, she is.  I realized he thought I meant badass, as in mean, or tough.  Maybe I mean a little tough, but not a hard ass.  That’s different.  I think the term badass has come to mean different things, particularly for women. 

I find myself increasingly admiring (my version of) “badass” women these days.  I don’t care for a person that is “mean, violent or aggressive”.  But the trusty internet provides other definitions of “badass”:

From an article in Psychology Today from 2010:

“A real badass is driven by values such as responsibility, justice, honor, courage, compassion, humility, integrity, and selflessness”.

“A badass is someone who does the dirty jobs, the jobs that other people don’t want to do…. A badass does what needs to be done, no matter how difficult it is, without complaint or need for fanfare. A badass doesn’t take the path of least resistance.”

Also, from the same article, and with which I completely disagree “Yes, girls can be badasses too (I use the word girls deliberately because I don’t think women want to be this sort of badass). A badass girl these days is beautiful (or thinks she is), has big breasts (likely augmented), is tanned (even in winter), wears stilettos (hurt me!), and is the grown-up version of the mean girls from high school”. Talk about a male fantasy version of a badass female!

The Urban Dictionary says:

“A badass stays true to themselves, always. This means being themselves for themselves, and not being fake to impress others. 4. A badass does not give up. Badasses will always push themselves for the better, no matter how hard it gets.”  This is much closer to what I mean.”

Perhaps it’s because I often feel a bit stifled by my fears (repeating past mistakes/inadequacy in intellectual pursuits, heights, speed) that I admire people who seem to have it together).  Even if it’s a smidgen of my day, I try to exhibit these traits where I can.  What are these traits that I admire these days in women and consider badass?

  • Seeming unafraid when asking for what they need, particularly at the office.  When I see a woman who just exudes confidence, stating what they need, even when they are asking for something others might find unconventional, I am cheering inside.  This type of woman often has a way of carrying herself that says, don’t look at my physical presence, listen to what I am saying.
  • Also, a woman who shows her vulnerability – but still insists on respect her strengths.  Being honest and sharing vulnerability is a great way to inspire others.
  • Identifying an issue that needs to be dealt with and handling it. It might mean uncomfortable phone calls, or lending your scarcely available time, but it needs to be done. So, they do it.
  • Celebrating their differences.  The woman with the extremely wiry hair, who makes it even kinkier. The one with the curvaceous hips who accentuates them.  The middle age woman who is unafraid of the creases appearing around her eyes and mouth.
  • They say things out loud that flout boring clichés.  They hear someone say men grow more handsome with age, but not women.  They call bullshit. Tactfully, perhaps. But there’s no need to agree. They say that perhaps our ideas of what is handsome or beautiful is the problem, not an ageing woman.
  • They do it anyway.  They are told they should do things that are appropriate for their age – pull back, do less, wear more, tone it down – and they ignore them and do what they like. And then bench a PR at the gym.
  • They cheer each other on – whether at the gym, or the office, or at school.  They root for each other.  And not just their cliques.
  • They experience a setback, maybe with respect to fitness, and figure a way to work around it. Even if this means small, incremental gains.  They are patient towards their goal.
  • They show their true emotions. They know that being kind and authentic doesn’t mean being phony or smiling all the time. And if they are angry, they admit it – tactfully.
  • A woman who insists on the time she needs to do the things that make her thrive – exercise, time with her friends, to get enough sleep – so she can be extra badass for her loved ones.
  • She doesn’t feel the need to debate or argue if she doesn’t agree with someone.  She may state what she believes, but she doesn’t need to convince someone else that they are wrong. She is content to know her own values.
  • She challenges herself outside of her comfort zone – in a way that suits her – in the gym, that can mean doing 5 extra burpees on a day she wanted to stay in bed, or deadlifting 135 lbs on the day she thought she’d have to cut back because her back was tweaking.  Maybe it means running 17.5 km on the day her training schedule suggested she do 16 km.
  • She is kind to people – but will also not be taken advantage of or made to feel less than by anyone.
  • She is constantly looking for ways to improve herself in her career and feel useful, whatever that may be.

Do you like the term “badass”?  What does it mean to you?

A tattooed woman wearing a black T-shirt which reads, “THE BADASS WOMAN IN ME HONORS THE BADASS WOMAN IN YOU.”

Nicole Plotkin: law clerk, loves to exercise, eat good food, snuggle with her dogs, and her wonderful husband. 


Being Badass

That’s me with my badass headband Jessica made for me.

This week I posted a profile pic of me on a rainy day bike ride. I’m wet and smiley. I love that the rain highlights my fuzzy face.


A friend commented, “Velominati Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.”

And it’s true that riding in the wind and the rain always makes me feel especially tough. It’s hard to explain. It’s not that I enjoy wind and rain but there is something about the way it makes you feel.

It got me wondering about the feeling of being badass and what variety of physical things can bring that feeling out in me. I had it once in canoe with Laura, crossing a big lake, against a deadline of running out of light, into the wind and the waves. So hard but so rewarding. Hot showers and hot coffee at the end of the lake tested better as a result of our efforts.

I also feel it when I lift to failure and drop heavy weights in the gym and then try again and succeed, no matter what the weight. Badass.

Rowing in rough conditions, also badass.

How about you? What things do you do that make you feel badass?


This was posted and scheduled by past me. I’m actually away this week riding in the the 18th Annual Friends For Life Bike Rally. The Bike Rally is the sustaining fundraiser for the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation (PWA). Your donation helps PWA to fund services for thousands of men, transmen, transwomen, women and children living with HIV/AIDS.

You can sponsor me here.

All donations over $20 will receive a charitable tax receipt.



Guest Post

Guest Post: Elusive “Badass Cred”

This is how you get it:

broken frames

What can I say? I’m petite and the elbows of other players occasionally are right at my head, especially when I am not giving a whole lot of space in order to force a play …

I should have been wearing my contacts, but my new set has not come in…

It made a nice crack that my keeper heard from the opposite end of the field …

I only have a small cut on my nose…


I’d totally do it all again…


Thanks to my teammate Nadine who taped me up, Hanson-brother style! I’m going to put these pictures up at the office with the caption “Damn right, I’m tough.”

fashion · Guest Post

Sweaty hair solutions (Guest post)

Like Sam, who has written about her Athletic Hair, helmet head, and summer time curls I have short hair. But mine is straight, and I wear it longer in the winter (in part to keep my head warm). My main goal with my own athletic hair is pretty simple: keep the hair from my eyes, keep the sweat from my eyes. I also like to keep the hair from my ears (I don’t know why; it drives me crazy when I am exercising).

There’s an obvious solution: headbands. I’ve tried most of them, little strips of elastic that UnderArmour or Lululemon retails for $10, bits of lycra/cotton with a logo.

This summer, I whipped up a bunch of them for myself, and I handstamped them with my own version of fitspiration: Badass on the ball; plays hard; faster, stronger; karma … I was wearing “plays hard” when I took an elbow to the face and ended up with broken glasses, so I feel I can claim with some authority (*cough*) that they help with performance.

Badass headband
The first creation


I wore the headband to a soccer game, and the orders started coming in from my teammates. Seems a lot of us fit feminists like to support each other’s creative outlets at the same time as dealing with those pesky tendrils that jump out of ponytails. A posted picture on facebook led to some custom requests, too – my favourite is Kim’s “Queen of the Mountain” which came after her epic ride here.

Sam asked me to write about the headbands in the summer, and I was reticent. I didn’t want to broadcast personal contact info on the blog (although it is easy enough to find me given public directories) and was unsure how people could go about ordering something without that kind of info. It’s a side amusement to make them, not a business – or at least not a formal one. But, if you too could use a little reminder about just how badass you are when you play a sport or workout, please let me know.  You can message me on facebook (I’m in the Fit is a Feminist Issue group) or look me up at Western University. The handstamped, handmade headbands are $5 (shipping extra). They are one size fits most – even people with big heads and lots of hair. My long-haired nephews used headbands for fencing camp this summer (some with appropriate words for children!).  I’m happy to customize your headband (within length limits).