Category Archives: Body Image
So the other night Jodie and I got pictures from our 10k race.
I actually said to Ryan when we got them, “Well those weren’t very attractive angles are they?”
Ryan shook his head at me and said, “You never really like photos of yourself.”
I started to make excuses saying that I did usually like photos of myself just not certain angles because certain angles highlighted my flaws.
But as I made the excuses, I realized they weren’t completely true. I usually SEARCHED for flaws in photos. I tore apart every photo of myself searching for any bulge or wrinkle instead of just looking at a photo and saying, “I look good.”
Which, honestly, is kind of weird since I’m usually not negative about how I look…I’m actually usually pretty confident and happy.
Ryan then said to me, “I wish you could just see yourself the way I see you.”
Ouch..That comment hurt and struck a nerve.
My only response was, “I see myself accurately.”
But now, I wasn’t so sure.
Why couldn’t I just look at a photo and be happy with how I looked? Why did I even find flaws in photos that other people complimented me on?
Later that night, Jodie brought up the photos of us at the race. She wasn’t happy with them either, which made me sad since she looks great!
I told her that I didn’t like the photos either and that I thought I looked bad in them too. I told her that I did believe they were just from a bad angle.
She wasn’t appeased and said she didn’t like other photos from the day as well.
When I said, “I think we females just NEVER like photos of ourselves.”
Another female client then chimed in as we discussed not liking ourselves in photos.
She said I should watch the new Dove viral ad and later that night she texted me the video.
If you haven’t seen it, please take a second now to watch it. It struck a note with me and I hope it also enlightens you.
We, women, are especially guilty of focusing on our physical flaws instead of celebrating all of the great things about our bodies.
We need to stop.
Why do we hone in on the one spot that we don’t like, no matter how small, until it is all we can see when we look at a photo? Why do we ignore all the beauty and instead seek out that one supposedly negative and ugly spot?!?
Why can’t we all see our own beauty?
I see beauty in all of the women around, but it doesn’t fully matter because they, themselves don’t see it. I even tell other women the are crazy when they criticize themselves for certain things.
I will say things like, “Only you see that. I don’t even know what you are talking about. You look great!”
And I mean it.
But then when it comes to applying that mentality to myself…I just don’t do it.
Ryan said, “I wish you could see you the way I see you.”
Dove said, ”You are more beautiful than you think.”
Ladies, let’s start listening. Let’s start recognizing our own beauty.
Because guess what, WE ARE ALL MORE BEAUTIFUL THEN WE GIVE OURSELVES CREDIT FOR!
When most people come into the gym, they come in because they want to feel better, but also because they want to lose weight.
I usually ask them how much they want to lose and why they want to lose that amount. Most of the time the weight people want to be is the lightest there were at some point in their life.
I then ask them about the type of workout program and diet program they were following.
Many times people will tell me that they were just trying to eat well. Most of the time men will tell me that they were active and lifting and just sort of fell off which is why they gained the weight. Most of the time women will tell me that they had been running while eating well and then fell off the wagon for some reason or another.
When I hear this, I usually believe that the men will be more likely to hit their target goal than the women.
Because I believe that in our current culture women become cardio queens and calorie restriction junkies to lose weight because thin is all they care about while most men don’t just want to lose the weight to be skinny. Guys actually generally have the opposite pressure on them – they should be strong and muscular.
Whether or not having either standard is right, is a discussion for another time. The point is that both standards exist and that both genders generally go about reaching their fitness goals in different ways.
Which leads me to usually state to women, “You know that you can’t just focus on that number on the scale right? With the addition of weights into your program, you may not lose all the weight that you want, BUT you may actually look slimmer and fit into that ______ that you want to wear even better!”
I then usually turn their focus to circumference measurements and body fat measurements. AND I usually only do these once a month…at most every two weeks.
BUT I definitely try to avoid the scale obsession.
While it would be great if we could all just focus on how we FEEL and how we PERFORM, wanting to look good is the reason why most people head to the gym.
So while you can check the scale, you can’t let it be the be all and end all. You’ve got to use some other measures.
And if you are going for aesthetic changes, circumference measurements and body fat tests can be great.
If you are dong circumference measurements, you need to make sure to measure the same spot each and every time. Here is a link that tells you WHERE to take measurements so that your measurements are consistent so you can actually track progress.
For body fat testing, there are a few ways to do it. Whichever way you do it, you will want to use this scale to find out what your body fat means. Please don’t set your goal for essential. Even the bodybuilders who reach that point DON’T maintain it for very long. At the essential level is where you get into health ISSUES.
And depending on the tool you use, there is some room for error, especially with tools like these handheld “electronic” measures or the scales that supposedly measure body fat. These tools are very dependent on hydration status so can be easily effected by how hydrated you are that day and whether or not you just worked out. If you use these tools, try to keep when you measure as consistent as possible.
Calipers are great too, but make sure you measure the same spot and really read up on how to use them. It is best to actually have a trainer who is experienced use them on you or at least teach you to use them.
The best body fat test is the dunk test or the bod pod. Both are more expensive, BUT if you really have an aesthetic change as your goal, why not use the most accurate measurement? Do one when you begin and then one every 90 days! It will definitely keep you from becoming obsessed each week with the measurement! (And you could still use circumference measurements just to see where you are at.)
Anyway, try to experiment with these other two measures of “weight loss.” I mean shoot, you can even use pictures as a measuring tool. You can see changes when you compare pictures even if you become used to seeing yourself every day in the mirror. And if you see changes that you like, who cares what the scale says?
Along the way to looking the way you want, if you can throw in some performance measurements, you may just find that after a while you become less and less worried about exactly how your weight loss progress is going and more and more focused on working hard and sticking to your program.
And guess what?!? When you start focusing on performance, you may actually more easily look the way you want to look! You won’t be obsessed with each fluctuation of that scale!
So try to take the emphasis off the weight you see on the scale. I know it’s not easy, but it really causes more pain than anything else!
When Nutrition Analyst & Farm-to-School Coordinator Asta Garmon asked me to do an interview about women and the stigma of women who lift heavy, I really got to thinking about my experiences.
It amazed me when it really dawned on me that I’ve gotten more crap from women about lifting heavy and being bulky than I have from men.
Yea I’ve gotten the occasional comment from men about whether or not I’m worried about being bulky. But really most of the trouble comes from men when I then try to give them advice about how to lift better or when they find out how competitive and driven I am (which is honestly a blog for another day).
BUT the true perpetrators are women!
Women are the ones that perpetuate the lie.
Yes…They perpetuate it by saying things like, “I don’t want to lift heavy because I don’t want to get bulky!”
But more importantly, they perpetuate it by telling women, who lift heavy, but look feminine, “Oh wow…Your arm is so…muscular.” (They say this in a way that makes it an insult NOT a compliment.)
YEP! The worst crime is committed when women say to women who have worked hard to look amazing and toned, “You look so…buff/muscular/jacked.”
They say it in a way that HINTS that these words really aren’t a good thing. They even use those specific words because they know that most women associate those words with masculinity.
Most likely these women give these backhanded compliments because they have some insecurity themselves or because they are jealous.
And honestly, you can’t really do anything about what or how other people say things. You will run into women like that. There may even be a woman or two like that in your friend group…You may even call them your “frenemy”…you know them…you love them…and yet…
But anyway, while I would love to change those comments, I can’t. There will always be people out there that will use any social stigma to put someone else down.
BUT what I can do is change the way we, women, interpret those comments.
When comments like those are made to us, we can choose to do one of two things.
We can choose to become self-conscious and bothered by the comment. We can stop lifting and then tell anyone who asks us about heavy lifting that “we don’t lift heavy because it makes us bulky.” We can be afraid that we did, in fact, become bulky from the lifting. We can then perpetuate the stigma that lifting heavy makes women bulky.
OR we can choose to ignore the comment and know that we do in fact look AMAZING and that those women have their own issues. We can break the stigma and help other women find the strength and beauty that heavy lifting can bring!
I choose to do the second.
I wasn’t born with self-confidence. I fought a long uphill battle to get it – the fake it till you make it battle. (And sometimes I’m still faking it, but no one knows the difference!)
As strange as it sounds, what you have to do to be more confident is to pretend to be confident. To act like you are confident even when you aren’t.
So when you get an underhanded comment hinting that your weight training has made you masculine or bulky, when you know you aren’t and have even had compliments about how great you look, what should you do?
You should smile and say, “Thank you! I’ve been working out super hard and lifting heavy! It just makes you feel so good! You should come with me some time.”
That’s what I say every time.
And guess what!?!
I instantly feel better and completely erase the negativity of their comment from my mind. I may still remember it enough to shake my head at them, but I’ve taken all of the venom out of the comment.
I played the part of a confident individual, which in effect, basically made me confident.
And on top of that, they will never have any clue that their comment may have made me even a teensy bit insecure. (If it even does!)
PLUS, every time you respond that way, you start to destroy the lie that women will get bulky if they lift heavy. You won’t be giving credit to their comment AND you may even convince them to become a woman who lifts heavy!
So while it may not be easy, the key to changing the stigma is by believing that in fact you AREN’T bulky or masculine even though you lift weights. The key is believing that you are healthy and strong and beautiful because you do!
You can’t change the other person, but you can change your reaction.
Let’s start there and maybe then we will silence the haters!
So yesterday we went to a Bridal Expo to promote our gym and our Bridal Transformation Workbook, which is a year-long guide (workouts, diet tips, recipes and meal plans) to help brides look sexy on their big day.
We were at our little booth and were trying to get people to sign up for the free workbook when one of the trainers asks a group of girls, “Want to get in shape for your wedding?”
The bride of the group awkwardly laughed and made some comment about liking the way she looked.
Her response was definitely one of “well I’m thin so I’m fine!” It also maybe also had a hint of being offended that someone hinted that she would need to “get in shape.” (Even though he wasn’t hinting that at all.)
Another woman we approached responded “Well…round is a shape.” She too was saying, “I’m fine as I am and how dare you hint otherwise.”
The trainer meant no offense. He wasn’t saying the women were “out of shape.” But that is how they took it.
Which got me to thinking….Do many people not even start working toward being “in shape” or “healthier” because by working toward something like that they are hinting they aren’t already “perfect?” Are we scared to admit to ourselves that we have flaws?
Or are we scared to admit to ourselves that others may not think of us as perfect?
No one wants someone else to think that they need improvement even if we, ourselves, think we need improvement.
So someone telling saying to you, “Do you want to get in shape for your wedding” isn’t something we want to hear EVEN if we were planning on starting a program to look even better for our wedding!
Anyway, so then toward the end of the expo, I had a woman walk up to the table to look at the workbook.
She said, “Oh this is awesome!”
I said thank you.
And then she uttered something that made my jaw LITERALLY drop open…
She said,”This is for all those fat brides that want to fit into a smaller dress…huh?”
As I said…My jaw dropped open.
I laughed super awkwardly and said,”Well anyone can use it….I live by the tips in there.”
She gave me a slightly surprised look and gave me the once over.
And then I got mad.
That attitude is EXACTLY why many women were afraid to admit they were interested in the workbook.
I then said to the woman, “So don’t you want to look PERFECT on your wedding day? Don’t you want to look your best!?”
And she said, “Yes of course.”
So I said, “Then you want this workbook because it will give you a few tips to make you look your best! If you are spending time on the perfect dress, makeup and hair, why wouldn’t you make sure you do everything you can to look the best with all of the stuff you picked out!?! (I said this all very nicely even though I was slightly pissed off)
She then signed for the workbook.
I mean really…I just don’t get it. We will comment/criticize our arms or legs or butt or whatever, but then when we are faced with an opportunity to face it and change it, we shy away.
We spend time picking out the perfect dress, the perfect hairstyle, the perfect makeup because we want to LOOK PERFECT on our big day, but run as far away as we can from one of the BEST ways to make us look spectacular AND FEEL CONFIDENT in how we look!
I don’t get it. Do we not like admitting our flaws? Is it that working out is just too “HARD” compared to the other fixes?
I mean really! Working out and eating well isn’t something you do just if you are “overweight!” It is something you do to FEEL GREAT, LOOK GREAT and BE HEALTHY!
Anyway, has anyone been offended by someone selling something by saying “get in shape?” Or have you offended someone by saying this?
Sometimes I am completely and utterly irrational.
There are freaking random things that can make me feel completely confident or completely depressed about how I look.
My clothes might fit well and I may look no different than I did the day before, but sometimes even just KNOWING that I ate badly the day before can make me “believe” I look bad.
There are a bazillion different things that can do it to you.
It could be a change in weight on the scale. It could be a pair of pants you haven’t worn in a while fitting differently. It could be some random little comment about one of your body parts that does it!
It could even just be your MOOD that day that determines how “fat” or “thin” you look that day.
Actually I would say mood is a huge determining factor.
Let’s face it, if you have a negative outlook or are down on yourself for something…anything…you are probably going judge yourself with that negative attitude.
If you are in a good mood, a bad meal the night before probably won’t bother you. If you are in a good mood, a little fluctuation on the scale probably will just make you think “water weight.” Tight pants….hey you haven’t worn them since you washed them!
Anyway, the point is that your attitude toward life is going to affect how you interpret things.
Try to remember that!
Try to remember all of the hard work you’ve put in to look and feel good. Don’t let one day of feeling down on how you look spiral into a “I don’t look good anyway so I’m going to binge eat and not workout” cycle.
Remember that things really aren’t going to change day-to-day – it is all about consistency over time.
And on those days when you do feel down on yourself, re-dedicate yourself to your goals.
Remind yourself of all your hard work. Remind yourself of all your progress.
Focus on the positive instead of honing in on that one body part you always seem to feel insecure about!
Anyone else ever have those days where you just have a negative body image even though you’ve been working out hard and eating well?
To look like on their wedding day….
Toned arms and shoulders, a slim waistline with just enough curve into toned hips, butt and legs.
How do most women get there?
By doing chronic cardio, starving themselves, and lifting light little barbie weights only a month before their wedding.
But is this really the best way to have the arms, waist and butt of your dreams on your wedding day?
If you really want to look lean and toned you can’t just do cardio and you most definitely can’t starve yourself.
You need to lift challenging weights, eat the RIGHT foods and start working toward the body you want early on.
I tell my clients (and plan to do the same myself) to plan to have reached their goal weight or body composition the week before their final fitting, which is only a month or so out from their wedding.
The last month or two should only really be maintenance.
The key throughout your workout progression toward you BIG DAY is to do compound movements. Don’t waste your time with the bicep curls, shoulder presses and tricep extensions that most programs recommend. While those can be good if you are a powerlifter looking to really isolate and strengthen weak muscles, those moves really aren’t giving you that much bang for your buck.
They don’t have a whole heck of a lot of calorie burn AND they are only working on one muscle group when you could be hitting 3 or 4 with a compound movement.
For instance….the deadlift…It works just about everything. Want a great backside? Want a toned upper back, butt and thighs?
Or any other powerlifting move for that matter. Or you can use kettlebells, resistance bands or the sled
There are a ton of different strength training things that you can do! Find some that are fun and that get you results efficiently AKA compound moves!
Also choose the compound moves that target your trouble areas.
While we can’t spot reduce areas, we can build up proper muscle tone to make our problem areas look better. Eating a healthy diet and later the added cardio we do during cutting will reveal that beautiful muscle we built up even more!
And while I LOVE lifting heavy and think that it is key to the body that you dream of having on your wedding day, cardio does become a more important part as you are trying to become more lean and toned.
That doesn’t mean you just stop lifting and start logging in tons of miles.
It means sprints, some long distance JOGS for some slow fat-burning cardio AND still an intense heavy lifting routine.
Of course once you up your intensity during the final few months before your last dress fitting, you will need to remember to take time to rest, foam roll and release some stress! Working out though can be a great way to make sure that you are still getting enough “me time” BUT that doesn’t mean you can just start living in a gym and not practice proper recovery!
10 Key Moves to Get the Body We All Want on our Wedding Day! (So many move I love, but these will give you a huge bang for your buck!)
- Deadlifts – Deadlifts are a full body move. They are perfect to tone your upper back, butt and hamstrings. Plus they are a real fat burner because they work so many big muscle groups! (I LOVE YOU DEADLIFTS AND MISS YOU!) One new explosive deadlift move I’ve started using is a rotational deadlift. I set up the bar in a t-bar row hold and put weight only on one end. So I deadlift up the end with weight and rotate toward the stand as I stand up. So if the weight is on the right as I stand up, I rotate to the left pushing the weight out and up until my arms are straight.
- Kettlebell Swings – Another great way to get a great toned hips, butt and thighs! This move may be just as good as the deadlift. It is, however, just a bit harder to master. Make sure that if you want the butt toning effects of the swing that you aren’t squatting down so much as doing a hip hinge! NOT A SQUAT! More of an RDL…but still not an RDL.
- Kettlebell Snatches – Another tough move, but a full body one. Develops explosive power, which means more muscle power! It is great to develop power in your legs, tone your core (lots of rotation and stabilization) and strengthen your shoulders.
- Pull ups – I LOVE PULL UPS or any variation of them! (You can even do a pull up and hang if you want some extra core work!) They tone your back, biceps and core! Get great arms while benefiting from the extra calorie burn of working a big muscle group like your back! (And a toned back looks pretty good in a strapless wedding dress!) Plus, if you strengthen your lats, they will help your waist look slimmer by creating more of an hour-glass figure!
- Push ups – Strengthen your chest, triceps and shoulders just to name a few muscles. Lifting heavy can sometimes just mean lifting yourself! If you want to make them even more challenging, make them explosive. As you push up, come up off the floor! They make the push ups that much harder.
- Medball Pass and Shuffle – Honestly, one of my favorite new moves. Cardio because of the shuffling back and forth. Plus it is a great move to develop lean POWERFUL muscles. Best when done with a partner. Perform a chest pass with a heavy medicine ball with a partner while shuffling down and back.
- Sled pull/push – So by pulling I mean pulling a sled toward you with a rope. Great leg, core, back and arm workout! And then if you push it back to its starting place, you get to work the entire posterior of your chain – everything from your shoulders down to your calves!
- Crawls and all variations – You can pull a chain, crawl on a power wheel, or crawl using sliders. How ever you do it, it is a great workout for your shoulders and legs. AND the more you keep you butt from going up in the air, the more you work your core. If you do use a chain, you can work your legs and butt even more. Or if you use a power wheel or sliders, you can focus more on your shoulders and core.
- Battling Ropes – A great way to get the lean ton muscles you want. Depending on which wave you make, you can focus on different muscle groups. You can work your back, your shoulders, your arms, your core and your legs. Shoot rotational waves kill your core!
- VersaClimber (or really any sprints) – These are a great way to maintain muscle and BURN TONS OF FAT!
So by now if you have a Facebook account, you’ve probably seen the story about the “fat” news anchor woman Jennifer posted a bazillion times.
I must admit that I’ve had multiple reactions to this story…some of them not offensive and others that I probably shouldn’t post, but I will.
Let me start by saying I don’t think the man’s email was something he should have sent.
“I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years,” the letter read. “Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain.”
Two of my non-offensive thoughts about the email were:
It is none of his business what her physical condition is.
And, isn’t she a good role model for young girls who may be overweight and believe they won’t be able to do certain jobs because of their physical appearance? Don’t we want to empower all young girls!?!
Ok…so those were two of my first thoughts…but they coincided with two thoughts which I’m sure I will now catch some flack for, but also made me think. (So before you get super mad…read to the end!)
My next thoughts were:
We have a childhood obesity epidemic occurring so don’t we want all public figures to promote a healthy physique? I’m not saying they have to be a certain weight or shape, but shouldn’t they be within the “healthy” range?
And she is a public figure…all public figures get criticized for their looks. Stars get a comment made if they gain half a pound or lose half a pound too much…
I have to admit…I feel that anyone who may be considered a “role model” should project an image that is worthy of emulation.
I hold myself to the same high standard. I won’t let myself become overweight and I won’t slack on my training because my job is to train other people. How can I give other people advice that I’m obviously not taking myself!?!
BUT as I thought this, I thought about the fact that athletes, actors, news anchors and other public figures really shouldn’t necessarily be our kids role models – WE SHOULD BE.
BUT that isn’t the way it is in most cases unfortunately.
In many cases the public figures ARE role models.
So in this world where we consider celebrities and public figures role models, why wouldn’t we want to hold them to a higher standard?
I mean if you were a public figure, why wouldn’t you want to hold yourself to a higher standard? Why wouldn’t you want to be a HEALTHY role model for young girls?
What was your reaction to this story? Am I just insensitive?
P.S. Yes I do realize that she may still eat the right foods and workout, which could mean she is actually healthier than someone thinner, but let’s also face the fact that in our society, at the moment, we equate a healthy weight to optimal health…
So some woman lost weight doing a “Starbucks diet.”
Someone also lost weight eating Subway while another person lost weight eating only fast food.
Basically you can “lose weight” eating just about any old crap. I mean heck I could even go eat only M&Ms and frozen yogurt and even lose weight.
Losing weight on the scale is all about calories in vs. calories out. If you take in fewer calories than you consume no matter where those calories are from, you will lose weight.
BUT that doesn’t mean that you have good body composition OR are healthy.
Weight lost on the scale doesn’t mean instant good health and the body composition of your dreams!
Losing weight is easy.
Losing fat and being healthy is the difficult part.
I hate all of these articles about these fad diets because they make people associate losing weight to be “skinny” on the scale with health. When in reality, the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand.
I know many people hate the term “skinny-fat” but that is really what you become if you eat crap but maintain a weight that says you are skinny by BMI standards.
YOU AREN’T HEALTHY JUST BECAUSE YOU FIT INTO THAT SIZE 4 JEANS LADIES!
Health means eating the right stuff day in and day out regardless of what the stupid dang scale (that you should have thrown out the window by now) says.
AND if you eat the RIGHT FOODS day in and day out you will also be able to achieve optimum body composition if that is what your goal is.
Anyway, if you just want to “lose weight” go eat whatever you want.
If you actually want to be HEALTHY and change your BODY COMPOSITION, let’s talk about eating whole, natural foods and cutting out the processed, sugary crap.
So think twice before you start that fad diet…Think about whether or not “losing weight” is TRULY your goal…
So I got this great comment from Steph the other day:
hi, i love this blog and find such great feelings of accomplishment from lifting heavy and seeing myself grow stronger, and enjoy reading your insight.
In the next few weeks can you post something about the BENEFITS of being a woman? I feel like in the last few posts you have (understandably) been ranting about the struggle to be taken seriously as a strong and knowledgeable woman. but I think it has taken on a slant of “trying to be one of the boys” and trying to prove yourself as not just some girl. while i understand your frustration at the Ikea Girl and the frustration of seeing some women taking on the role of helpless weakling, I feel like in some areas you are thinking as yourself as having to catch up to your male counterparts- as if maleness were the norm, and being a girl is “other”
i am very interested on your thoughts on this, as i have had similar struggles as a bike mechanic- customers looking over my head to have “one of the guys” look at their bike, or asking one of my co-workers the exact same question to double check my answer… this left me feeling inferior and caused me to be frustrated with my femaleness, constantly falling short of my attempt to be a guy. It took some work to see that I had so many strengths that my co-workers did not that I think customers appreciated – such as taking the time to explain the problems with their bike, etc. I am still struggling with this- especially as i have become more interested in body building. I get so mad at myself that my boyfriend- (who does not work out) can still lift heavier things and beats me everyday on out bike ride to work
would love to hear what you think!!
And her comment got me to thinking because my intention was never to sound like I wanted to be “one of the guys.”
The intention of my last couple of posts is to show that I’m proud to be a female and that a female can be STRONG and still be FEMININE. Strength IS feminine.
I’m frustrated because people still define things like strength, competitiveness and command as MASCULINE qualities.
Which they aren’t.
I’m a woman of strength, power, competitiveness. I’m not afraid to command a room. I’m not timid. But I consider myself to be feminine. I’m not frustrated by my femaleness.
I’m frustrated by others’ view of femaleness.
But the only way to change that is to continue to be strong and spread the word.
To embrace all of the qualities that society deems to be “masculine” as feminine qualities. To be a powerlifting, dress wearing, bad at putting on makeup female. To help other women find strength in the weight room and empowerment through working out.
To embrace who I am and help others do the same.
I try to see the situations I’ve encountered over the last week as opportunities for change – not as blows to myself as a woman. I share the stories to make others aware and to hopefully lead to some change!
So Steph, be proud of your strength. Be proud of your knowledge. They define YOUR femaleness!
P.S. I also get mad when guys who workout less and are “less fit” than me can lift more than me. I also get frustrated when girls who are taller can naturally lift more than me. AKA I just hate in general when anyone can lift more than me!
So I’ve discussed this before with the Olympics starting shortly, but what truly is the “perfect” body?
Mainstream society tells women they should be thin and not even have that much muscle. If you base the “perfect” body off of high fashion, you should be rail thin and tall.
If you base the “perfect” body off of fitness models, you should be down to almost only essential body fat and be proportionally muscled.
If you base the “perfect” body off of a 100 different things, you will find that each one has a different ideal. Some ideals, however, are more acceptable than others.
Generally speaking, women who are big with muscle are not considered to have the “perfect” body – they are considered to be “masculine.”
Shoot sometimes even if women AREN’T BIG but can lift heavy weights are deemed to be unfeminine.
But says who?
I actually love the response that British Olympic lifter Zoe Smith had when she was told by people that she was “unfeminine” or a lesbian just because she can out lift many men.
The obvious choice of slander when talking about female weightlifting is ‘how unfeminine, girls shouldn’t be strong or have muscles, this is wrong.’ And maybe they’re right… in the Victorian era. To think people still think like this is laughable, we’re in 2012!
Actually the whole documentary about her and two other female competitors from Britain is awesome!
The “perfect” body for those three women in the documentary is a body that allows them to lift the most weight in their weight class!
The same goes for Cheryl Haworth.
Cheryl Haworth is 5’8″ and 300lbs and a top Olympic weightlifter. By mainstream standards her body isn’t considered “perfect.”
But if you were 5’8″ and 300lbs and America’s top Olympic weightlifter, would you really think your body wasn’t “perfect?”
I think generally our image of the “perfect” body is to focused on aesthetics. We never stop to think about how maybe our big butt or muscled arms (that society may tell us aren’t perfect) help us move and perform as well as we do!
I would much rather have a body that can run and lift and do any activity that I ask it to do than fit a standard of beauty that mainstream society has defined.
I would rather have biceps the size of the average man’s than sacrifice one ounce of my strength!
I’m glad to know that I’m not alone.
What the documentary about Zoe Smith and two other British weightlifters called “Girl Power: Going for Gold.”
Also, watch the documentary Strong! about Olympic Weightlifter Cheryl Haworth.
STRONG! explores the contradiction of a body that is at once celebrated within the confines of her sport and shunned by mainstream culture. Through Haworth’s journey of strength, vulnerability, loneliness, and individuation, we learn not only about the sport of lifting weight, but also the state of being weighty: the material, psychological, and social consequences and possibilities of a having a body that doesn’t fit.
I think Strong! is a must see. TV showings of the documentary started on Tuesday (July 24th). Here is the website if you liked to find a showing in your area!
Can we please start focusing on how strong and capable our bodies are instead of how skinny we can become?
Can we please stop thinking of muscles and strength as masculine qualities?