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"Pretty Good For a Girl"

Leslie Heywood's book Pretty Good For a Girl is the story of her early life, in high school and college, as a fiercely competitive runner with an obsessive need to be the best at any cost. As Heywood tells it, her sense of self was expressed only in her running; if she didn't run, she was afraid she would disappear. For Heywood, her body had no boundaries and she abused it both in over training and in exercising her body to the point where she finally became a victim of a disorder known as Female Athlete Triad, a condition that involves "eating disorders, exercise compulsion, leading to amenorrhea, loss of bone" (192). Giving up running, her reason for being, led Heywood to examine her life and motives as well as the arena of sports for women. She wrote on the subject, became a bodybuilder and an assistant professor of English. However, nothing Heywood achieved in later life compared with the power she felt as a champion female runner, beating the boys at their own game. Heywood also deals with the prevalence of sexual harassment against female athletes, although in her case there was a meretricious nature to her relationships with coaches and male athletes.

Heywood admits that the motivating force behind her need for power and excellence in sports was hatred. She hates her mother's values, feminine girls, male athletes who look at her as just a girl, and manipulating, over demanding coaches. On the other hand, she seeks out demanding coaches because she wants to be pushed: "I am an athlete. I train with men. I'm not soft.... Don't ask me to smile and simper, don't ask me to open up and let you in. Look at me, I'm not just a girl. I win races, win races, I can think...." (74).

The author's arguments are based on her ego, her early sense of alienation, her hatred of men as well as a great need for their approval, and her adjustment to life outside the winner's circle. She never quite adjusts after she is forced to give...

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"Pretty Good For a Girl". (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 06:20, May 31, 2020, from