Boxing? It Fits.

The Fits (2015) shows an 11-year-old girl, Toni, as she joins a dance team, the Lionesses. Before she joins and during her early days of being on the team, she spends time with her older brother at the school’s boxing gym. She trains along side him in addition to helping out at the gym by sweeping and getting water for the cooler. The Fits is in many ways clearly a story of adolescent womanhood, but the question I am currently interested in is why the contrasting sport of boxing. 

There are several possibilities as to why the screenwriter/director Anna Rose Holmer chose boxing as a foil for dancing. First, boxing is a stereotypically masculine sport while dancing is a stereotypically feminine one. Toni navigates existing in both worlds, as well as transitioning from existing in a masculine space to existing in a feminine space. The Fits explores this theme in more ways than one. There is no clear impetus for the fits, but the fact that it only affects the women of the dance team, beginning with the older girls indicates that the fits have something to do with womanhood, whether it be a symbol of maturity or a of society’s vision. Toni doesn’t simply mature from a girl to a woman, but from an androgynous, perhaps more masculine, child to a feminine figure. She’ll grow into a woman, but she isn’t quite there yet (she’s only 11, after all.) Additionally, boxing an individual sport while dancing with the Lionesses is a team sport. While dancing can be individual, being a member of a dance team requires working with others. The Lionesses are a group: they train together, unlike the boys boxing team, who’s only shown training in the same place at the same time. The boys each work to better themselves, while the Lionesses are told to “think like a team.” The Fits posits that women act and work together, while men behave individually. However, despite maturing into a woman, Toni retains some of her boxing skills. Boxing is known as a “fighting” sport. Toni is a fighter: she fights to be a successful member of the team, she is strong. Punching, similar to what boxers do, occurs over and over in the dances that the Lionesses performs. Toni’s past training as a boxer has prepared her for the hard work it will take for her to become a successful dancer. 

Boxing acts as a foil to dancing in several key ways. As Toni transitions from a boxer to a dancer, she also transitions from a child to a woman, from an individual to a team player. However, dancers are no less stronger than boxers, and Toni retains her individual strength as she contributes to the team.

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