Wrestling is more than what we see on the surface. It, like those involved with it, contains multitudes. It has layers, like an onion. As an art form, wrestling seeks to explore the differences in good and evil, and the struggle contained within. But in exploring the black and white dichotomy, wrestling also becomes a mirror for the society we all live in. Superhero movies explore themes like equity and social justice, which has started bleeding into the wrestling world. This is one’s body of work.
Notorious Notes – Chapter 21: Body of Work
For allowing for more respect and opportunity for women wrestlers, LGBTQIA+ wrestlers, and wrestlers of color — which is amazing, though there’s still a long way to go before equal representation is a thing, both in wrestling and the rest of the world. This is definitely not to say that wrestling does not still have social issues to deal with. I recently put out a series of tweets, (so feel free to jump to the next paragraph if you’ve already read my take on this) but something I came to realize recently is how powerful our little bubbles are when it comes to influencing our perception of the world.
I am a big proponent of customizing one’s social media experience to be as good for one’s mental health as much as possible because I’ve learned over time that, if allowed, social media can play a huge role in my mental state, specifically in a negative way. As such, I no longer have any qualms about blocking those who might diminish my overall mood and/or self-image. This social media customization has led to a sort of protective bubble that presents the world in the way I want to see it, especially in wrestling. MY wrestling Twitter is progressive and supportive and positive, but just by looking at responses to Nyla Rose’s tweets for example, exemplifies just how much work is still left to be done to get wrestling to where it needs to be as far as inclusivity and tolerance.
Another, much-discussed issue within the wrestling community is body positivity. Generally brought up in relation to the vastly unrealistic body standards that women are presented and expected to live up to, wrestlers like Nia Jax have discussed how important body positivity can be.
But the world of professional wrestling may be full of the most toxic, unrealistic body standards in the world, and is the least transparent about them.
To bring up superhero movies again, the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has led to lots of crazy body transformations from actors like Chris Pratt and Paul Rudd, for the famous obligatory shirtless scene we see in each film. Many fitness magazines and products that advertise through Instagram, would have you believe that any person can easily achieve the types of bodies that you see in wrestling, television, and movies without any form of assistance, other than maybe the supplements that are being sold to you. And those who achieve said bodies are also to blame for not reinforcing, and sometimes no even divulging or actively hiding, any kind of help they receive (top trainers and dietitians, growth hormones or steroids, or even plastic surgeries).
This lack of transparency creates extremely unrealistic body expectations for both men and women. A couple of examples that went against the grain on this matter, and helped communicate the amount of work and resources that went into the physical changes that occurred were from Kumail Nanjiani, who underwent massive body changes for his upcoming role in “The Eternals” movie, and Rob McElhenney, who is notorious for undergoing massive body changes on a whim, including gaining 60 pounds for the 7th season of “Always Sunny in Philadelphia” just because he wanted to subvert the trope of sitcom stars getting prettier as the series progresses, got totally jacked (again, for no reason) when season 13 of Always Sunny rolled around. Both made detailed posts about the numerous factors that went into their transformations, not the least of which being that it was literally Kumail’s job to get that ripped.
Two people being transparent and vulnerable about their bodies is a huge step in the right direction.
However, there are still tons of performers and Instagram models that promote unhealthy body images to try and sell diet teas or appetite suppressants, supplements or special training. There’s a long way to go until bodybuilders and professional wrestlers understand that admitting they used performance-enhancing drugs to achieve their bodies does not indicate that they cheated to get it or lessen its value.
Much the opposite, in my opinion. Being open, honest, and vulnerable about one’s body shows a kind of confidence and strength that is still drastically missing in a culture that should have evolved past the toxic need to act macho decades ago.
Anyway, I know I didn’t really talk about my wrestling experience much in this chapter, but this was something I’ve been thinking about recently and it feels important to discuss so here we are including one’s body of work.
The world is your burrito!
- March 14: Pacific Pro Wrestling – Abbotsford, BC
- March 28: Lucha Libre Volcanica – Seattle, WA
- April 11: TBA
- April 12: DOA Pro Wrestling – Portland, OR