There aren't too many things in life which bug me, but the perpetual fear of women ‘getting too bulky’ if they lift weights is one them.
There are a few reasons for this; shall we have an in-depth look?
Well... when I was younger I was a chronic yoyo dieter. I would binge eat, go on starvation diets, spend hours on the treadmill and not once in that time was this ever seen as a problem.
No one said to me, maybe you should stop starving yourself, and try not to get too thin.
Maybe it’s better for you to eat nourishing foods, adopt a healthy exercise regime and look fit... not food deprived.
Once this part of my life was over, I turned to strength training and competing in CrossFit and fell in love with the sport.
Since I'm not naturally slender, (pure mesomorph – here is a link explaining that in more detail) At 164cm (10cm shy of what the modeling industry deems very short), with broad hips and shoulders, I always found trying to be ‘model’ thin very hard.
Basically, for my body type, it is pretty well unobtainable. When I started training with weights I was strong and I loved it. It gives me great satisfaction that I can lift heavy weights and its pretty freaking fun!
Anyway, once I started lifting I did start to hear some criticism the biggest one-liner being:
‘Don’t get too bulky’.
And this is the crux of the problem.
In a world where 10 million USA women battle anorexia or bulimia, where 43% of year 1 girls, YEAR 1, want to be ‘thinner’, there is a real problem with people believing that telling me to ‘not get too bulky’ is ok.
I am in the best shape of my life physically and mentally.
I eat freaking well because it makes me feel good!
I can’t understand why people think that it's ok to comment on my appearance when I'm being fit and healthy, as opposed to zero commentaries when I was starving and working so hard towards an unhealthy body.
Being sick and unhealthy is seen as something acceptable but god forbid you see a woman with muscles.
It does not make sense and it is not ok.
The next problem I have is, that it seems commenting on someone’s body when they go outside the accepted norm of beauty is warranted.
I did not ask your opinion on my body and why would you think I would care if I’m already defying what your standards of beauty are?
Just touching a barbell, women defy the pressure that society places on their shoulders from a young age.
I know my muscles are more prominent than most girls and I’m proud of that.
Do you think they just popped up overnight?
NO... I worked damn hard for my body and you saying ‘oooh you're a bit bulky’ shows you have no idea about what it takes to work hard in the gym and be able to complete physical tasks beyond your comprehension.
I believe this also shows a fear of physically strong women in society.
‘You throw/kick/jump/run etc like a girl’ is a common saying referring to someone (usually a male) being incompetent at whatever activity they are participating in.
People clearly perceive women as the weaker sex. Yes, I understand we are physically smaller and usually are not as strong as men because of testosterone.
But in my mind, there are some tremendously strong women athletes (and not enough of them) that counteract this saying that women are the weaker sex.
I believe that society, in general, believes that women are weaker, so they fear the physically strong women and try to shame them into wanting not to be strong anymore.
In my opinion, we need to stop encouraging women to be weak and actually learn how their bodies move, how strong, fit and healthy they can be.
For example, I think weightlifting is amazing, in my opinion, it’s the new yoga and so many women miss out on doing it because people tell them ‘well now don't get too bulky’.
Change your perception
As they say, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, your perception of what beauty is can always change as your understanding of what’s beautiful changes.
Learn to see the beauty in the women that are physically strong and learn how hard they have to work to get there. Try training with weights or try and do a pull-up... see for yourself how hard the physical act is and then marvel at how these women string together 10 or more!
Understand the dedication, hard work and courage they have put in to get to where they are today.
And ENJOY your body, how it moves, what it can achieve...
Do not punish it with low calories and ab, butt, thigh workouts or plodding along on the treadmill...
Go find out what it CAN really do and what YOU are capable of!
And if you tell me to ‘not get too bulky’ <insert rude finger symbol>
Elle trains at Tone Athletica a functional fitness gym for women.