WOTW: Puneet Shoker
I was born in a family, where both my mother and father wholeheartedly supported my sisters and I in our academic, professional and personal pursuits. Being a girl is considered a blessing in my household, but I am not naive to the fact that many girls, especially in the South-Asian community are faced with a different reality. Despite belonging to a supportive and progressive family, I have also closely seen the way the hypocritical discourse surrounding girls in my culture has a negative impact.
As I stepped into the world of athletics, I began to see another dimension of sexism and how my identity as a woman of color would be used against me. I was told to focus on more feminine subjects; to refrain from spending time outdoors with the fear I was getting “darker” from sun exposure. I would constantly hear these negative opinions that were rooted in ignorance and patriarchy from people in the South-Asian community, sometimes directed towards me and my friends who wanted to pursue sports more than a hobby.
As I began to play at higher levels in varsity sports, I often found myself to be one of the only South-Asian girls on the team. I struggled with the lack of women of color in athletics, and the double standards surrounding what women were “encouraged” to pursue versus the men in this community. I was frustrated but quickly realized that alongside challenging these double standards, I also needed to channel that frustration towards something positive and productive.
I found myself engaging in initiatives to empower women of all ages in my community to partake in a healthy lifestyle. I often am asked why I bother investing energy in this since at times it seems the community is not receptive.
My response is rooted in stories of the amazing women I have met so far in this journey. Whether it be the young teenage girl eager to explore sports only her brother has had the opportunity to partake in or a mother in her 40s, who wants to focus on her health after years of ignoring it for the sake of household responsibilities. I have seen how small initiatives can positively change the direction of someone’s life, especially when it concerns their health and that is why I am passionate about what I do.
I’m now pursuing my Doctor of Chiropractic where with my credentials in the medical and athletic field, I promise to continue working towards creating positive spaces and opportunities to empower women in my community to explore the world of athletics and a healthy living lifestyle.
After all, I strongly believe in the value of not only lifting weights but women uplifting women