Deciding to start this blog was easy. Total no-brainer.
Naming it was NOT.
In fact, it’s been exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Because while the name feels perfectly, exactly right, I’m also quite aware I may be asking for a little bit of trouble.
Let me explain.
I want to help women—of ALL ages, but especially women in their 40s, 50s, and beyond—discover and celebrate and harness strength.
And by that, I mean physical strength first and foremost.
Physical strength transforms women.
And not just our bodies. Yes, those do change, and I’ll talk plenty about that.
But here, now, I mean that when we cultivate strong bodies, that strength creates (and magnifies) our mental, emotional and spiritual power.
I’ve discovered the truth of this in the many years since I started lifting weights at the age of 48, and even more after becoming a competitive powerlifter at 50.
I’ve seen and felt it myself, and in countless other women on the same strength journey who have shared their experiences.
At its heart, that’s my very simple purpose here: to spread that gospel and help older women (and others as well: anyone who wants to come along for the ride is exceedingly welcome) figure out how to do everything from pick up their first dumbbell to compete in whatever strength sport strikes their fancy—and in the process, find a community of practice, a support system… in short, a tribe.
I want this blog to speak to the total beginner, the world champion, and everyone in between.
So, yeah, the concept of the blog was easy.
But what to call it?
What’s in a name?
I spent months going down different roads, trying to find something that spoke to the core of what I wanted to convey.
When I finally landed on That Badass Broad, it felt right.
But not easy.
Chances are, you’re fine with “badass.” I don’t think I need to explain or justify that word at all.
Women who lift tend to hear “badass” a lot, and I’ve never heard it meant as anything but a compliment of the highest order.
“Broad,” however, is another story.
The B word
I’ve polled women about this word. The responses tend to be quite polarized. Some, like me, completely embrace it.
But others dislike it or hear it as a slur or an insult.
So why choose such a controversial word?
Well, I intend to celebrate and reclaim “broad,” much as our culture has already done with “bitch.”
I don’t have to tell you how negative THAT “B” word can be.
But context is everything. When it’s meant as a compliment, a “bitch” is strong, tough, unwilling to compromise, confident, full of herself in the best possible way, unyielding, and a little dangerous.
So why not “That Badass Bitch?”
“Broad” is more specific than “bitch.” It doesn’t HAVE to refer to an older woman (in fact, when it was first used to mean “female” it was not age-specific). But nowadays it at least suggests one, maybe because the word itself is a little dated.
A “broad” is seasoned. This ain’t her first rodeo. She’s experienced the world, she’s streetwise, and maybe a little brassy.
You can dress her up and take her out and she’ll play the part, and she may clean up nice, but underneath she’s still reliably gritty and no-nonsense.
She doesn’t live by other people’s rules or follow the crowd to get validation.
She knows exactly who she is.
She has a sense of humor, she laughs at dirty jokes, she can give as good as she gets, and she’s extremely difficult to offend.
In the group of women I polled to gauge reactions to the word, one said, “My interpretation of ‘broad’ is an unapologetically unconventional female. That’s definitely me.”
Another, Debbie Damminga, said, “When I was 17 my boyfriend gave me a shirt he had made for me that said ‘BIG BROAD’. I married him. 43 years later I still have him and the shirt.” She wasn’t lying: here’s a photo to prove it!
A third said “In my world ‘broad’ is a supreme compliment.”
Other women have written about “broad” and why they embrace it. I especially love this manifesto of sorts by Susie Essman of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame.
The Divine Miss M herself, Bette Midler, called her 2014 autobiography A View from a Broad.
There’s even a book (which I discovered months after I chose the name for this blog) called Bygone Badass Broads!
Say it loud: I’m a broad and I’m proud
So, I declare myself proudly and unequivocally a broad.
If you identify as a woman and find the word problematic or distasteful, I understand… but I hope I’ll manage to convince you otherwise.
If you DON’T identify (either partly or exclusively) as a woman, but you spend time with/love women, I hope you will celebrate their majestic “broadness.”
I know not every woman is going to vibe with me on this.
Hopefully you’ll still enjoy what I’m trying to build here, and take away whatever is valuable and relatable to you.
Because—and here’s the ultimate point of this entire enterprise:
“That badass broad” isn’t me. It’s YOU.
YOU are a badass.
If you don’t feel that now, I hope you’ll feel it someday, and that what I serve up here will be part of the reason.
Here’s to badass broads. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.