You should dress up more often.

Wear more make-up.

Do your hair.

Stop getting tattoos.

Smile More.

Talk More.

Don't get too big.

Stop cursing so much.

Why are you so skinny?

I've heard these things my whole life. I’m sure most women have gotten a few of these themselves. I am a  rebel and I will do 100-percent the opposite of what you tell me , unless what you tell me pushes me to grow — just ask my poor mom.

But what I will not do is be told who I am, who I should be, or how I should be. You shouldn't either.

April Harper OBB

I began powerlifting two years ago, and in those two years, I have put on 20 pounds of mostly muscle. I’m not super lean, as I like to eat, and I like to be strong. However, the more muscle I put on and the more people that come into my path, the more unsolicited comments I get.

In the grocery store: "Are you a CrossFitter?"

At work: "Don't get any bigger; you're bulky."

Some old friends: "You're huge...kind of fat."

When did it become okay to comment on someone else's body? Never. Just shut up.

Now, a lot of people will and have said, “Take it as a compliment! I wish I got those comments! They’re just jealous!”

To that I say, "no." I will not accept people telling me how to look, giving their opinion on something that is not their business, making inappropriate comments, and bullying me and others. Sure, sometimes they mean it as a compliment, and in those times I do take it that way and I say thank you and move about my day.

The ones that intend to be mean to me do bother me. I'm sure it gets to a lot of women who are starting to find or have found a passion in being strong, fit, and muscular. At first , its fun to look at your arms and quads grow. But eventually you can't fit into your clothes. You start out by getting support from people who tell you you're inspiring, and then they're picking you apart and being inappropriate.

In the past few weeks, I began questioning why I do what I do. Why do I powerlift and put my accomplishments out there to be knocked on by every Tom , Dick, and Harry? Why do I keep pushing when I have to deal with strangers commenting on my body? Why?

After much thought and even considering quitting, I realized that the support I get from the people who actually care makes it all worth it.

The girls who have messaged me and told me that they started getting into shape and changed their life because I inspired them, the people that tell me they are proud of me and to keep going and never stop — those people matter.

I have an overwhelming feeling of joy, accomplishment, humility, love, and respect that floods my heart when someone reaches out to tell me that I have made a difference or helped them in some way. By simply being me and doing what I love, they have been positively influenced. This weighs much more than any disrespectful comment that has ever been thrown my way.


So, while it may bother me that my arms are big, or my waist isn’t tiny, or I'm not the average girl that everyone finds to be correct or the social norm,  I am me. And being me means actually helping other people fight demons, break through plateaus, and change their lives.

While mean people are out there trying to bring us down, our efforts to pursue what makes us happy comes full circle and makes those around us happy. Don’t stop when people tell you to stop. Don’t quit when it makes you happy and you are doing something positive. I always have this thought in my mind that I want to change the world, I want to make a difference, I desperately want to help people.

Even though I might not change the world, I am helping people, and those people may go on to change the world. Therefore, I changed the world or was at least part of the catalyst that did. All because I showed people me, doing what I love, being who I am and pushing past the stereotypes of what everyone said I should be. I still became successful, and happy, doing everything everyone told me not to do.

I'm doing everything that I want to do and so can you. Don’t stop. Be strong and be true to yourself always.

April is 30 years old and has been powerlifting for close to three years. Her most recent meet PRs are a 365-pound knee-wrapped squat, a 205-pound bench, and a 435-pound deadlift at Raw Unity 8. She won her weight class of 148, training under coach Brian Schwab. As a doughnuts and deadlifts athlete, April promotes and coaches flexible dieting while working a full-time job and studying for a nutrition certification.