It was a dark and stormy night. I was at home by the fire place, curled up with my cat and engaging in some routine cyberstalking, when I stumbled across this comment:
I realize that this is the internet and ignorant comments breed faster than rabbits, but there is something about this particular comment that has been niggling at the back of my brain all day. I’ve written before about how women need to hit the weights hard, and even though this blog is in its infancy, I’m already rehashing the issue of women in the weight room. But we’ve yet to to reach a critical tipping point as a society, wherein we stop perpetuating the idea that lifting will make you bulky, and instead embrace the alternative: girls can lift.
Part of the reason that this comment has stayed with me all day is because I often feel like women are afraid of the weight section because of their own internal anxiety and not because of external pressures. How many boyfriends would love to see their girls take up an interest in the gym? Yet, here is a prime example of a chick who lifts big, is proud of her accomplishments and strangers feel the need to tell her that all of a sudden she is not feminine.
Being feminine implies there value in doing the things that women “traditionally” do. Except that we live in 2012. Women can vote now.
In fact, women can now run for political office and win. Modern women are mothers, daughters and sisters but they are also scientists, doctors, lawyers and engineers. Did we stop being feminine when women started treating us as autonomous human beings? The answer is obviously and resoundingly, “no”. Hell, I can be all of those things and smokin’ hot, to boot.
Now, I could accept that men and women are different, and I could choose to get smokin’ hot doing one of the workouts that Women’s Health tries to sell me so that I can look “traditionally beautiful”. After all, who doesn’t want toned arms and a flat tummy?
Here’s the thing: even girls who love pink possess a brain and the capacity for critical thought, so they have the ability to see that Cosmo’s non-workouts will keep them perpetually weak and unhealthy for life. Whereas the men’s fitness industry seems to benefit from convincing guys they need to get stronger and more swole, the women’s health industry revolves around continual failure, so that we buy into the latest trend in the hopes of finally obtaining that sexy, svelte figure. I dare say that part of being “feminine” is longing for a body that you can never hope to obtain. And if our societal ideal of the female body is waif-like, then just starve yourself and we’ll have a million weak girls who are dying to be skinny. Is this what makes us women?
Yet, lifting is one of the things that we know works for making hot girls even hotter, and it’s when I’m lifting that I feel my most feminine. The only time I’m conscious of being a woman during my daily life is when I step into a weightroom full of dudes. When I competed, I straightened my hair, put on a full face of make-up and wore pearl earrings. No one mistook me for a dude. I was pretty, strong. Or when I first looked in the mirror and noticed that BAM! I have collar bones and shoulders that are super hot, that wasn’t an accident – it was lifting. Having muscle made me feel pretty for the first time in my life. And it’s not like I accidentally squatted 225 and aww sheeeeit, now I have a penis.
The important thing here is that our ideas of what is feminine evolves; it’s time that ladies appropriated that definition to include being taken seriously at the gym. It’s no longer acceptable for internet hotshots to belittle women who don’t buy into the zumba model. Being a lady lifter just means you can eat more cupcakes and look better in your sundresses. It won’t make you look manly; it will only make you stronger.