I ask myself why there are articles written about women and strength training all the time. Many of them contain little to no useful information. In reality, the “meat” of these articles can be summarized in the following:
- Women do not need to train any differently than men.
- Lifting weights will not make you bulky or appear masculine.
- Cardio alone is not enough to give you that “toned” look.
- Crunches are not an effective way to “build your core”
- No, you will not lose your belly by doing a million crunches.
Let’s stop for a minute and re-read that. I’m not even the lease bit surprised how incredibly shallow common female questions regarding strength training are. Nor, would I really hate on anyone for going to the gym regardless of their motivations.
I think bullet point number 2 is the one that grinds my gears the most. I can’t stand that there exists hundreds of articles written by different women in different countries about why other women shouldn’t be afraid of strength training. I almost feel the existence of such articles help to perpetuate the fear triggered by ignorance some women experience regarding aesthetics. Please, tell me, are there articles such as Why Women Shouldn’t be Afraid of Basketball or Why Women Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Gymnastics?
To set the record straight, both gymnasts and basketball players are athletes. I would argue the build of gymnasts (phenomenal) is often referred to as “bulky” but the common ignorant person. Yet, gymnastics is considered highly feminine while strength athletes are commonly considered masculine. Why is that?
I’m going to make a point to say, maybe if being skinny wasn’t the answer, women could focus on being healthier.
Let me first and foremost point out every sport can become unhealthy. I’m not going to pretend like on a competitive level the sport is a walk in the park. This post is not written necessarily about athletes, but explores the connection between the common misconceptions of strength training and health.
From the time we are young, most girls are taught being skinny is beautiful, and being fat is ugly. A few days ago I came across this article on Beauty Redefined and it nearly made me cry. There was so much honesty and so much truth to it.
Skinny = beautiful. Fat = Ugly.
It is interesting to note, skinny people aren’t even necessarily more beautiful or happier anyway.
Here are the results of common ways most people try to skinnify themselves. Hours of nothing but cardio start wearing on your joints if you’re not eating properly. Let’s also add to that your body turning into mush since you’re really not retaining enough muscle mass so you’re pretty much frail. Agonizing over whether you are allowed to eat 8 or 10 grapes in your “points system” dieting is damaging your relationship with nourishment (true story). Cutting out carbs will make you foggy and tired, cutting out fats will make your hair and nails brittle, and make your joints achy.
And then to make it worst, as adults some women become paralyzed by the fear of looking unnaturally strong. Fair enough. Note the term unnatural.
You cannot possibly tell me a logical person really believes if she lifts up a 10lb dumbbell a few times she thinks she will look like the Hulk. That’s ridiculous. I’m pretty sure your toddler and even some babies weigh much more than that and you’re repeatedly lifting that child every day. Let’s get real here.
Maybe, if we celebrated strength, health, and happiness… being skinny wouldn’t be the answer for everything anymore. Maybe if we stopped telling little girls being skinny makes her pretty she won’t grow up hating herself for being a late bloomer, or being afraid to eat an extra 2 grapes. Maybe if we stopped telling little girls she has to be dainty for a boy to like her, and stopped raising boys to believe girls should be dainty and frail… We wouldn’t have an entire generation of women who are either at major risk for eating disorders or Type 2 diabetes.