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I Was Told I Was Too Weak To Box

#SWAAYthenarrative

Lindsay Coke, 32


Trainer/Motivator/Amateur Boxer/Pilates Instructor

Lindsay Coke is the embodiment of female strength. Known as the “boxing blonde,” Coke is also a certified pilates instructor and Lululemon ambassador with a mission to empower women. Although she initially faced criticism about her career path, she responded by doing what she does best - fighting back. “Self accepting and esteem are the most valuable tools any person could ever possess,” says Coke. “This is your life.”

1. What made you choose this career path? What has been your greatest achievement?

I don’t know that I chose this career path as much as it chose me. I have always been an active human and some may say, kind of bossy. I've played sports and been on teams for a majority of my life. I see now that it was only natural for me to find a career path that incorporated my love for movement, my leadership skills, and a work uniform made mostly of elastic. I come from an extremely small family, and I truly believe that I have made it a mission to create that family energy and tribe mentality through my work. I am blessed to not only get to be a teacher for a living but also a student for life.

2. What’s the biggest criticism/stereotype/judgement you’ve faced in your career?

Girls aren’t tough enough to be in the boxing world. Ha! We have been fighters since birth!!! Every single person in this world is a fighter of some kind, either for something, against something, or for survival. Now that boxing is becoming more and more popular there are people out there trying regulate who’s in or out. That is probably why I am so partial to the sport, because it’s primal. It’s not about making the team or not, it’s about knowing how to tap into your instincts and use yourself accordingly in any situation. To me…if you’re breathing, you’re fighting.

"Every single person in this world is a fighter of some kind, either for something, against something, or for survival."

3. What was the hardest part of overcoming this negativity? Do you have an anecdote you can share?

I have always been the shortest person on the team, the kid in the front row of the school pictures, and the easiest arm rest for those over 5’9. I am big person in a little person’s body. I was told I wasn’t a strong runner because I didn’t have a “runners body”. I was treated as a slow pack mule doing manual labor, only ever getting to admire those that were considered the race horses.

4. How did you #SWAAYthenarrative? What was the reaction by those who told you you “couldn’t” do it?

I let swaaying BE my narrative. Tell me I won’t or I can’t and it's like putting jet fuel in my tank. I thrive off swaying haters and naysayers. "Running just isn’t in your DNA”, I was told. Well not only do I have short little “non runner” legs, but they are pretty deviant. They had no problem carrying me 26.2 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes for the 2016 LA marathon. I have discovered that the ones that want to see you fall are usually the ones that are at the bottom of the stairs afraid to take the first step.

After I finished the race, I could see that the doubt and judgment that was once pointed in my direction is truly just a personal reflection of the way they feel about themselves. Self accepting and esteem are the most valuable tools any person could ever possess.

5. What’s your number one piece of advice to women discouraged by preconceived notions and society’s limitations?

Be your #1 fan. Don’t hold that space for someone else. We are not defined by how others experience us.

This is your life, live it out loud, unapologetically. I will leave you with one of my all time favorite quotes: “A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others have thrown at him or her."

"I have discovered that the ones that want to see you fall are usually the ones that are at the bottom of the stairs afraid to take the first step."

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Going Makeupless To The Office May Be Costing You More Than Just Money

Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.


Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.

Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.

As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.

Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.

So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.

Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.

For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."