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Written By: Rose Fong

Carmen started learning about society’s tough beauty standards at just ten years old. She struggled with being accepted by her peers at school. Her love of sports and videogames put her in the tomboy box, squarely opposite of the it-girls and their designer clothes.“The girls were really clique-y. I just didn’t fit in.”

One of her seventh grade teachers, who felt true sympathy for the oddball girl who didn’t fit in, pulled Carmen aside one day. “She felt so bad for me, and even started crying. She said, ‘I’ve been there, I know what it’s like. Just hold on, when you get older, you’ll find your group of friends.’ I never forgot her for that.”

“I still struggled in college,” Carmen admits, “I always had an issue with body dysmorphia. I wasn’t skinny in high school, and all the other girls were. I was just naturally very muscular and had an athletic build, and it was really tough for me to accept that. Even in finding the gym as my outlet, I still had a hard time. I’d be crying, and ask my mom, ‘Do I look fat?’ or ‘Do I look manly?’”

Under some misguided college track coaching -- “They wanted us to drop weight so we were lighter to run faster” -- Carmen became bulimic in an extreme attempt to lose weight. “I was super lean, and everyone was like, Wow, you look amazing! But they didn’t know what was happening behind closed doors.” Eventually, she opened up to a coach, “I was hurting myself, and just completely broke down.”

“I didn’t feel 100% comfortable in my skin until I started playing tackle football after college.” Carmen is a running back in the Legends Football League. “I’ve been playing for five years, and it’s these last five years that I really loved who I am. I’ve become confident in being muscular and having a big butt.” She laughs, “Thank goodness [big butts] are in now! It’s liberating getting past caring what people think about how you look.”

“Don’t be afraid to be yourself,” says Carmen. “Always strive to do stuff for you and not for anyone else... My sister was the first person to tell me: ‘Do whatever makes you happy, and when you’re not happy anymore, move on.’”

Carmen found her people in the LFL Temptations team. These wonder women warriors have each others’ backs on and off the field. “We love each other, we’re there for each other. If there’s any kind of personal situation we’ve been through, we’ve all been there for each other.” In this world were society pits women against each other to fit and set beauty standards, it’s victorious to find women who build each other up.

“I always try to compliment another woman, whether it’s my best friend, or someone on my team, or someone I don’t even know.” Carmen says that this helps her not only spread positivity, but it helps her stay positive in herself. “I know it makes me feel good to see the beauty in another woman, and I know how much means to hear it.”

To see more of Carmen and her journey please follow her @carmb_lfl10

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