Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed a lot of talk about being a “badass woman” lately. And I’m struggling with it.

Let me start by saying that as a woman I truly appreciate and love that women are out there taking charge, changing the conversations, and empowering one another. The discrimination and pressure that women put up with (yes, we’ve come a long way and still have a long way to go) is unacceptable. To all of you out there who are doing your part to break down barriers – I salute you! And I am one of you! However, I’d like to challenge the concept of badass women, particularly in sports.

What Is a Badass Woman?

Maybe part of my challenge is with the word badass itself. The definition of badass is “a formidably impressive person”, which implies that comparison is required. What are we “impressive” in comparison to? Well, in sport it’s probably men. This means that as much as we try to escape masculinity by being badass women, society continues to compare us to the performance of men. We don’t want to be compared to men, we want to be different than men.

I love that women are challenging the status quo. Where I struggle is that if you’re a woman who is not pushing the boundaries of what you’re supposedly capable of, then you’re not badass, and therefore not worthy of having goals to improve at your sport. It puts a lot of pressure on women to live up to some standard that is set by men. There’s already enough pressure on women to be perfect at everything, I don’t think we need to add being badass to that list.

Sports Performance – Not Just For the Badass Woman

In the last few years of owning and operating my own sports performance business, I’ve noticed a concerning trend: I support significantly more men than women. I’ve been asking myself “why?” for quite some time and the more I talk to women in the sports community, the more clarity I am getting. What I’ve concluded is this:

Unless a woman is doing something in sport that is perceived by society to be “badass” (i.e. it’s incredibly challenging, courageous, seemingly impossible, or doing sport at a high level) then they don’t consider themselves to be enough of an athlete to seek services that would improve their performance. In other words, society says that if you’re a seemingly average woman who’s entered into your local 5km walk and run and you plan to do more walking than running, you’re not an athlete, and you’re definitely not a badass.

Jennifer Schmidt, Health Coach and Recreation Therapist

It seems to me that unless a woman is doing some level of extreme sport, they don’t feel they fall into a place where they could even consider looking at their “performance.” Sports performance isn’t about being the fastest or strongest athlete out there (well, for some it is), but rather about getting your body to perform at its best. Not at its best in comparison to others. Not at its best in the wildest race you can think of (unless that’s you’re jam). You deserve to improve your own personal bests, even if you feel like they’re slow, weak, and not so badass.

The Flip Side

I said I’m struggling, which means that I’m having thoughts both for and against this argument. Here’s where I swing to the other side. Badass women are pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, achieving the things that they’re passionate about, and inspiring other women to speak up and chase their dreams. This is absolutely incredible and needs to keep happening! By writing this article, I don’t want you to think that as a woman you should sit down, accept that you’re nothing special, and watch your dreams fly by (because chasing them would be badass, and you’re not that kind of girl). I want women to challenge themselves and chase their dreams (in fact, as a health coach, this is a large part of what I support women to do!), but I want you to chase YOUR dreams, not the dreams that society has told you that you need to have to be a badass woman. Even if your dreams feel small and unimportant in comparison to what the badass women of society are doing, I want you to ditch that thought and just go for it! Get out of your comfort zone, do things that excite you and don’t worry about whether it’s enough to make you a badass.

Being A Woman Is Enough

If you identify as a badass woman, that’s great, and keep going! You’re doing amazing things! What I’d like to emphasize is that if you’re a woman who doesn’t necessarily feel badass, that’s okay too. There is absolutely no need to succumb to the pressures of society and start doing things that would put you into the badass category. You don’t need to feel bad because you don’t feel badass. You don’t even need to consider how the things you do every day (like being a mother, partner, employee, recreational walker…whatever!) are badass. You are a woman, and that is enough.



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