“I Believe”

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Kathie Bergquist
Written by Kathie Bergquist

When it Comes to Women’s Health and Wellness, Ms. Fit Editors and Contributors Lay it on the Line

For the Faith issue, we asked Ms. Fit writers and editors to share a belief they hold about feminism and women’s health, fitness, and wellness. Join the conversation: add your own belief in the comments!

I believe that if I can take back the minutes—the ones when I catch sight of myself in the mirror and hate what I see; when I suck in or slouch over or M Stielstra phototuck back the healthy, perfect parts of myself; when I wear scarves not ‘cause they look cool or I’m cold but to cover my neck; when I skip out on the gym or a party or a date because I think I don’t look good enough; and when I can’t see the parts of myself that are beautiful and brilliant and ferocious which FYI are all the parts—if I can take back those minutes, if we all take back those fucking minutes, we’d have all the time we need to change the world. Megan Stielstra wrote the article We Are Fine for Ms. Fit. You can read more of her writing here

I believe in the interconnectedness of all beings. I believe we all have a right to quality healthcare, and quality care begins within each of us. I jessica youngbelieve in not apologizing for strength, intensity and emotion. I believe in doing what makes us uncomfortable in order to cultivate opportunities for growth. I believe in falling over, and laughing, and getting back up to try again. I believe in love. I believe our words have power, and we create our world by that which we say, think, eat and consume. I believe in compassion and patience, and deep belly laughter. I believe when I do right by me, then I do right by you, and when I help you, I also help myself.  Jessica Young is an editor at Ms. Fit mag, and has written several essays, blog posts, and reviews for us. You can read more of her writing at her blog

I believe that self-love is at the center of being physically and mentally healthy. It’s a work-in-progress and hard as hell to achieve, but I believe StephanieKuehnertAuthor2the keys are to be thoughtful about what you put into your body, be proud of what you put out—every physical achievement is a huge one. Be kind to yourself and take time to meditate, and surround yourself with other beautiful, supportive women. And of course literal self-love, i.e. masturbation, definitely helps, too!Stephanie Kuehnert has written several articles for Ms. Fit Mag. You can find out more about her writing here.

I believe the body speaks to us constantly, through humming muscles, grumbling tummies, creaking joints, orgasms, and so much more. We were Marcia new picborn listening, but then external messages and demands started getting in the way. But our bodies are still trying to be heard. It takes practice, through movement and through stillness, but we can learn to become better listeners again, to learn our body’s chords and songs, to recognize what each note means, and to use this to live whole, healthy and happy lives. Marcia Brenner is an editor for Ms. Fit. Recently, she interviewed Michelle Tea for the Family Issue. She is also the author of Regeneration: Is Soreness the Sign of a Good Workout and A Manifesto for Movement.

I believe that to survive and thrive in a world which undervalues and attempts to erase the fullness of our lives is an act of genius. I believe that I Ching-In Chen by Sarah Grant(6)come from a long line of brilliant women of color and gender-non-conforming people(s) who have moved their communities towards liberation and that we should celebrate and learn from them! I believe in the self-determination of every person—to be safe from harm and violence, to heal their traumas, to love and be loved, and to determine their own paths. I believe in laughter and yummy food as necessary to healing! -With their partner, Cassie Nicholson, Ching-In Chen co-wrote the article Stir-Fry. You can find out more about their writing and activism here.

I believe in the evolution of women. I believe in a culture that is anti-shame, taylor crainpro-choice, and vagina-positive; I believe in a society wherein sex is not a weapon to be used against women but an exaltation to be celebrated. I believe in the right of every woman to live as her own, independent entity without having to further justify her existence.Taylor Crain is the editorial intern for Ms. Fit magazine. She currently compiles World Watch and Sportz Shortz for the magazine.

 I believe bodily and mental well-being are inextricably related. When we’re inwardly healthy we are able to do our best work out in the world. Being Meredith Countswell also gives us the freedom to enjoy our occasional vices. My two young daughters heighten my self-awareness as a role model (which never occurred to me in the past) since I am their default, close-up example of a woman, and I want to be a strong and good one, around for a long time. To return to the topic of vices, once their bath and bedtime rolls around, I believe strongly in the curative powers of nachos and beer. Meredith Grahl Counts has written What Will She Eat: A Vegetarian Mom in an Omnivorous World and The Ballad of June: A (Mostly) Natural Childbirth for Ms. Fit.

I believe as women, it’s up to us to be ok with saying please and thank you, fuck off, of course, no way, may I, I’m not asking, you can’t stop me, I’m cyn vargasbeautiful, smart, funny, I kick ass, I enjoy fucking, sex, making love. It’s up to us to put thoughts into action, to take risks, to take naps, to take time for ourselves, to make our own choices, to fight, to cry, to yell, to laugh, to hug, to love ourselves and love others that deserve it. It’s up to us to feel good about ourselves and not put that responsibility on someone else. Own it. Believe.It’s up to you. Cyn Vargas wrote the article Back That Thing Up: Pole Dancing as Feminist Practice for Ms. Fit. She has a short story collection short coming from Curbside Splendor Press.

I believe that you have the right to use your body however you choose. liz baudlerYou have the right to go at your own pace. You have the right to move and celebrate movement. With this right comes the privilege and obligation to learn about your body, through experimentation or through dedicated study. Your body is your closest, dearest friend; friends are never perfect. Listen to it. Love it in the ways it desires. Liz Baudler has written articles for Ms. Fit on everything from vaginismus to bike commuting to anorgasma. You can catch up with her here.

I believe that health and wellness are multi-dimensional, not entirely within our control, and are neither an obligation or a barometer of ragen chastainworthiness. I believe that each woman has the right to choose how highly she prioritizes her health and the path that she wants to take to reach her goals. I believe that public health should be about making as much information and as many options as possible available to individuals, and should never be about making the individual’s choices the public’s business. I believe in stigma free, fiercely anti-shame health and wellness care for people of all sizes. –Ragen Chastain writes the Fierce Fatness column for Ms. Fit. Her writing can also be found on her blog. 

I believe we must seek the absurd in the tragic. All too often, we move through our lives fixated on the suffering—sickness, heartbreak, financial Allison Gruberdifficulties, rejection, fucked up Starbuck’s orders. But I believe that even in our most difficult, painful times, the hilariously absurd is present—maybe it’s just a passing thought, a look, a moment of real-life slapstick—and when we find it, when we laugh in the darkness, our suffering no longer owns us. And when our suffering does not own us, when we refuse to take ourselves (and our tragedies) too seriously, we win our sanity; we win our lives.Allison Gruber wrote the article Scar Tissue for Ms. Fit. Her book, You’re Not Edith, is forthcoming.

I believe that the world my daughter inherits is one where she never wishes to look like someone else, where she believes that her beauty and strength marian 2come from her ability to kick ass at whatever she chooses to do. I believe that all of our fierce little girls should never be told that they “can’t,” should always be nurtured to know that they can, so they can grow into fierce women who know no bounds or fear, women who are never angry at a mirror or at a scale or at a size or at a magazine because what is in that mirror is 100% awesome; not because somebody told them but because nobody had to tell them what they have always known. Marian Sherrell Haas is an editor for Ms. Fit. She has contributed to numerous articles.

I believe that our bodies are the vehicles that carry us to our most transcendent experiences—the thrill of victory, the view from the Lynne Wanamaker photomountain top, the awe of childbirth, the wonder and connection of sex. I believe our bodies hold the history of what happens to us, in our bones and muscles and tissues and brains. No one gets through this life unscathed. But it is possible, through compassion for our animal selves, to make a kind of meaning from our scars. Above all, I believe that our bodies are a gift worthy of reverence and tenderness. Lynne Marie Wanamaker is the self-defense columnist for Ms. Fit. You can find out more about her work on her website.

I believe that saying yes—to life, to your power, your desire—is an act of political defiance. There are social forces that would turn us against Kathie Bergquistourselves by telling us that we have to say no, that we have to feel shame, that we have to deny our strength, our pleasure, and our self-interest; forces that would keep us suspended in a state of diminishment. I believe in standing tall and saying yes to pleasure, yes to my strength, yes to my preferences, choices, and demands; yes to my right to live and thrive on this earth. Vehemently, yes.-Kathie Bergquist is the publisher and editor-in-chief for Ms. Fit. Most recently, she wrote the article I Deserve to Be Healthy: A Feminist Case for Quitting Smoking for the magazine.

 Now, what do YOU believe? Share it in the comments!


About the author

Kathie Bergquist

Kathie Bergquist

Kathie Bergquist is publisher and editor-in-chief of Ms. Fit Mag. She teaches writing at Columbia College Chicago and edited of the anthology. "Windy City Queer: LGBTQ Dispatches from the Third Coast" and is co-author of "A Field Guide to Gay and Lesbian Chicago." Pulled reluctantly into a fitness lifestyle by her wife and partner of many years, Bergquist is now a runner, a boot camper, and a yogini.

1 Comment

  • These are the things that are true: I am afraid to list what I believe. I am afraid it will be wrong somehow. That I will change my mind. However, at the core of this unfounded anxiety is what I believe: I believe in being brave enough to make mistakes. I believe when you make a concrete decision that YOU think is right, especially if it goes against what people you respect are saying, it is a feminist act. To choose is to assert yourself, and in a world that so often works to silence women, asserting yourself can be scary. But in confidently declaring who we are, what we think, and what we WANT, we can–as Megan Stielstra so aptly said above–we can change the world.

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