Strong, Beautiful and Proud

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.”

Uhm…usually I’m the one flexing! 😉

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?”

NOPE!

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?

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Posted on July 26, 2012, in Body Image, Conventional Wisdom - How I hate you and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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