Woman Crush(ing It) Wednesday: Brianna Decker

Wow, did anyone out there watch that Mets game last night? I definitely spent three hours of my evening clutching my face and feeling like I was gonna barf, and this post very nearly almost didn't get written after that. But then I decided to get my ish together, because the National Women's Hockey League had its first games this past weekend, and that is EXTREMELY exciting. I mean, a paid professional women's hockey league? I am so here for that. And I'm not going to pass up an opportunity to talk about my favorite female hockey player!

+ Brianna here has been a big deal in the world of women's hockey for a pretty long time now. She grew up playing on boys' teams before playing four years of high school hockey at the acclaimed Shattuck-St. Mary's School, which is known as "the Hogwarts of hockey" and is "to hockey what Harvard is to law." Other alums include Zach Parise and Sidney Crosby. It's no joke. She won three national championships there, scoring 122, 124 and 126 points in her sophomore, junior and senior seasons, respectively.

+ After graduating high school in 2009, Brianna attended the University of Wisconsin. And she basically kind of dominated everything. She holds the program record for highest career plus/minus (the measure of a player's goal differential) with +175. UMMM, holy cow. Her college athletic bio is basically a laundry list of insane accomplishments, including the 2011 NCAA Championship and the 2012 Patty Kazmaier Award (given to the nation's top women's collegiate player).

+ Brianna tried out for her first Olympic team in 2010 and didn't quite make the cut. But it wasn't long before she was making her mark on the senior national team the way she had on the junior level. At the 2012 world championships she led the tournament with a +13 rating, and in 2013 she led the tournament with six goals, was named to the media all-star team and was voted one of Team USA's top three players. She DID make the Olympic team in 2014, scoring two goals and four assists in five games en route to the silver medal (let's... not talk about it). She is, however, a two-time world champion and served as alternate captain for the 2015 team (and scored the winning goal in the gold-medal game against Canada. Hell yes).

+ After all of this, Brianna played a season with the CWHL's Boston Blades. She was completely dominant, scoring 32 points in 12 games (omg?!) and finished second in the league in scoring. "What Decker accomplished this past season would be like Connor McDavid breaking into the NHL next season and eclipsing the 150-point plateau." Yeaaahhh buddy. The Hockey News lists her as the top women's player in the world after her 2014-15 season. She's now with the NWHL's Boston Pride, makin' history, y'know, all casual.

+ But personally, my favorite thing about Brianna is that she's comparatively tiny. She's only 5'3", which is really small for a hockey player -- she has to ask her taller teammates to help her get her helmet and gloves down from the top shelf in her locker before hitting the ice. (Girl, I feel you so hard on that!) But she plays a really physical game anyway, is deceptively strong for her size and is able to use her low center of gravity to her advantage; so basically, she turned her weakness into a strength. #yaaaasss

Like I said, Brianna's playing with the Boston Pride now, and all NWHL games will be streamed (fo' free!) on their YouTube channel. So check out a game or two (or all) and watch this tiny blond girl crush her competition. :)

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I'm Skinny... And Really Insecure About It

Hi, my name is Darci and I hate my wrists.

I'm aware that this seems like a very arbitrary body part to hate. But my wrists are the embodiment of something that I'm very insecure about, and it's almost impossible to cover them up.

They're really skinny. And there's absolutely no way to hide it.

I wore a watch every single day, from elementary school until college, partly for time-telling reasons but partly because it added some bulk to my left wrist. Long sleeves do the trick sometimes, until they ride up a little bit, or I get hot and roll them up myself. Then I'm just stuck looking at my bony wrists all day. And what can I even do about it? Is there a way to bulk up wrists? Do I do forearm curls?

Hi, my name is Darci, and I'm really thin and really insecure about it.

Now, I understand that we live in a society that glorifies thin-ness, and that it's much more difficult to be overweight than it is to be thin. I'm in no way implying otherwise. But to think that thin people don't struggle with insecurities about their weight is to be incredibly incorrect.

I wasn't always insecure about being thin. I've been insecure about my wrists for a really long time, but it wasn't until people started commenting on my thin-ness that I started feeling weird about it. A casual comment about how, oh, you're small so you must not like food. Someone who saw me eat every single meal every day for a month saying she nonetheless thought I was anorexic (seriously?????). One too many people showing me that, look, I can wrap my fingers the whole way around your wrist!

And what the HELL are these sizes that I have to wear????

Those things wore me down. Now when people say, "wow, you're so tiny!" I don't know how to respond. Thanks, I think? Are you telling me that as a compliment or because you think I have an eating disorder? When my family members ask what I've been cooking for myself, I instantly get defensive. Are you curious about my cooking abilities or are you worried that I'm not eating enough? When I wear boots, I always try to wear fleece-lined leggings and boot socks to beef up my calves a little bit. When it comes to jewelry, literally all bracelets are too big for me and don't even get me started on rings. When someone has to put a wristband on me, I always get the urge to apologize for my skinny wrists making it hard for them.

I'm sorry. I'M SORRY.

I feel like I should make clear that I don't have an eating disorder. I never have. My doctors have always told me I'm a perfectly healthy weight. I eat three meals a day, and more when I'm hungry. I just make healthy food choices, have been blessed with a fast metabolism and thin bone structure and small appetite, and (sometimes) work out. When you're not much more than five feet tall, you really don't have to weigh all that much. I'm a proportional human being, I promise.

And I generally like being thin. It's nice to always know what size clothes to get; small, always. Extra small if it's available. Petite sizes, even better. (That's not to say they'll always fit, because I'm often too small for the smallest sizes, but at least it's a good place to start.) And it's nice not to have to worry about losing weight. But just like you wouldn't comment if someone was overweight, I'd appreciate not getting comments on the other side of the spectrum. (Seriously, let's just stop feeling entitled to comment on people's weight.)

Because for every person that says "zero isn't a real size," there's someone who wears size 00 yelling at you to shut up.

Do any skinny girls out there feel me on this?

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Woman Crush(ing It) Wednesday: Malaika Underwood

Guys, baseball! Are you feelin' it?! 'Cause I sure am! I haven't been this excited about baseball in approximately nine years and I am just all about it right now. So today we're chatting about a female baseball player. There is, in fact, a U.S. women's national baseball team. I didn't know such a thing existed until this summer, but suddenly it was like I'd been waiting for it my whole life. And Malaika Underwood is like the original version of Mo'ne Davis.

+ Malaika has been ballin' since day one. When she was in eighth grade, she knew she wanted to continue playing baseball in high school. But she also knew that not all high school teams would give a girl the chance to play. So she wrote letters to the coaches at various high schools she could attend, giving them her Little League stats and asking for a fair shot at making the team. (Keep in mind that this was in 1995.) One coach said he'd give her that shot, so that's where she decided to go to school.

+ In high school, Malaika played on the girls' volleyball team in the fall and the girls' basketball team in the winter, and the boys' baseball team in the spring. But because the basketball season overlapped, she could only join the baseball team late in the season. She was never guaranteed a spot on varsity and had to earn it, despite pitching and playing second base on junior varsity for two years. But she was just as good as all the boys, so don't worry, she earned it. And the craziest thing? She was so good at volleyball that she attended the University of North Carolina on a full volleyball scholarship and was a four-year starter and ACC tournament MVP. As one does.

+ Once Malaika headed off to college, she figured her baseball days were done. She graduated in 2003 and spent a few years coaching Little League. But in 2004, USA Baseball decided to establish a women's national team, and Malaika joined up in 2006. She's since been on the national roster seven times, which is pretty unprecedented in women's baseball, and is one of the undisputed team leaders. The head coach calls her "the ageless wonder." She's played in the Women's Baseball World Cup five times (one first, two second and two third place finishes).

+ So, it's probably no surprise that Malaika is team captain of the women's national team. And this summer was a pretty nice time for her to be captain, as it was a pretty big summer for women's baseball. The Toronto 2015 Pan American Games included women's baseball on the program for the first time. And when I say "first time," I mean that this was the first time that women's baseball has ever been included in a multi-sport Games. Ever. Sooooo, kind of a big deal. The U.S. women went undefeated on their way to a gold medal (talk about a league of their own!) and Malaika was at the top of almost every single offensive category. She was first in batting average (.600), stolen bases (2) and runs scored (7), and second in slugging percentage (.667). Defensively, she was third among first basemen with a .975 fielding percentage (with 38 put-outs and three double plays, both category-leading numbers). So baseically, girlfriend killed it.

Malaika Underwood: the hero female baseball fans deserve.

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