Are Women Too Buff? (You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me…)

Posted: August 4, 2011 in Articles

This is one of the pictures that sparked this great debate. Come on - she looks hot!

I was going to review a yoga workout I found online today. One that I used on Monday night in my Yogalates class. It was great and I was excited. But then I came across this article on Fitness Magazine’s blog, which led to me watch this Good Morning America clip. I lost my excitement and started to feel angry and sick. Herein lies a discussion I have been waiting to have, one that I find myself having with a lot of people these days.

I am fit. I am strong. I love muscles on women and strive to have more myself. Hence why this blog is called “Strength and Sweat.” I do not find skinny, waif-like women attractive. They scream eating disorder to me. What man would want a woman who doesn’t look like she could hold a gallon of milk in each hand let alone whose bones look like they’d break if she tried to birth a child? Why are men intimidated and grossed out by women who have muscles? Why are certain friends and family members questioning my love for health and fitness when really, it’s a good thing to be aware of?

As a woman, I obviously can’t answer for the men, but guys, would you rather have a woman who is skinny or muscular? Muscular can mean toned, too. But we’re talking Kate Moss arms vs. Cameron Diaz arms.

Hands down, Cameron wins for me! She—and Kelly Ripa, Serena Williams, and Madonna (although her veins do creep me out a bit)—all inspire me. A woman who is ripped is impressive. Not bodybuilder-ripped, but muscular and toned to the point where you can see muscles.

What’s so wrong with a woman working out hard and putting on muscle? It means not only does she care about being physically fit, but she also cares about being healthy because muscles are healthy. Why are women with muscle seen as intimidating? Why am I called “super hardcore” because I do cardio and lift, sometimes together, sometimes on separate days, and when I lift, I lift? I don’t sling the 5s around, I lift real weight. The reason this blog is titled as is, is simple: I find myself most attractive and sexy when I’m working out. To me, beauty is strength and sweat. It’s giving all you’ve got and being able to see the results.

But the rest of the country/world doesn’t see it that way. Why? It all comes back to this unattainable image that women are supposed to achieve.

So the media tells me that as a woman, I’m supposed to be skinny… but healthy because I don’t want to look like I have an eating disorder (although you do NOT have to look anorexic to have an eating disorder—case in point, what I went through for a few years)… and I’m supposed to be toned, but not too ripped because muscles on women are unattractive and scary… and I’m supposed to work out and be fit and healthy, but working out every day is not healthy… but I’m also supposed to be able to eat more than just salads… so… wait, how do I look/act like a woman?

Yeah, exactly. Ridiculous. I am proud to say that for the first time ever I’m developing muscles in my arms, thighs, and abs. Hard-earned muscles. My sisters are the same way. Both of my older sisters have had children and, like myself, love to exercise. When we work out, we all work out hard. We sweat and it’s not really pretty. I call mine “dude sweat” because I sweat like a man. (TMI? Psh! I don’t care.) We share the best tips to get ripped as much as, if not more than, we share recipes and clothes. All three of us love muscles and strive to have muscles, which, awesomely, we all do. Real, I-worked-out-for-these muscles. Not you-can-see-my-muscles-because-I’m-so-skinny muscles.

Which leads me to the next point. Not only is the media telling me that I can become too ripped, but I’ve had friends and family comment on my workouts and muscles lately. “Oh honey, you look so skinny right now.” Compliment? Yes… kind of… But really I’m just fit and in shape. I hate the word “skinny.” It has this negative, are-you-eating? connotation to it that bothers me. Why are we so fixated on using the words “skinny” and “fat”? Is there no in between? And since when am I not supposed to move as much as possible during the day? I sit at a desk all day long—that’s not healthy. God made our bodies with the intention of moving them as much as possible throughout the day. When were we able to turn our laziness into the definition of a “normal” lifestyle?

This transitions into what else I’ve heard. My ex said to me one day on the phone, “So… you’re quite the jock aren’t you? Have you always been this way?” Wait. Excuse me? “Jock” as in sports-fanatic or “jock” as in I like to work out every day? To the former I say, why yes, yes I am, and have been since I was a child, thank you. To the latter I say, why yes, yes I do love exercise because it reduces my stress, I sit ALL DAY LONG, and it makes me happy and healthy. Is there something wrong with loving sports and/or being as active as I can be? I would think that would be a positive, but he said it skeptically. Like I was crazy.

So the fact that I’m an exercise instructor, train for a few races a year, review workout DVDs, and like to lift in my free time makes people uncomfortable because I’m a woman, but the guy running past me on the sidewalk is an ultramarathoner who pounds 30 miles of asphalt a day and is a vegan, therefore he’s called an inspiration and a great example of a healthy individual? Or the dude in front of the mirror lifts five days a week and cuts calories like whoa to compete in numerous bodybuilder competitions a year, but he’s considered disciplined and impressively strong? How did that calculate?

When did women working out become “too much”? Oh, wait, I think this is a simple question. I know when! When men finally realized that women are in better shape than they are, can do anything they do inside the gym, and can do anything they do and more outside the gym.

I think we’re talking about a classic case of jealousy in the media and amongst the male race, here. I could be wrong. But either way, it all comes down to this: Real women have hard-earned muscles.

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Comments
  1. Just got around to reading this, Kels (sorry I didn’t get to it sooner), and while I obviously can’t say with any certainty that I have the answers to your questions, I wonder how much of it is just plain old intimidation. Maybe people in general (and guys specifically) see fit, muscular women as intimidating, and then have to try to cut them down to help with their own insecurities.

    I can definitely see a guy that might be a bit out of shape not wanting to approach someone that has that kind of work ethic, showing those kinds of results. Makes them feel weak, inferior, which is really that person’s fault, and nobody else’s fault.

    Of course I’m generalizing, and I could be way off base. However, that’s really the only thing that I can think of, why women that work hard for their muscle might be looked down upon by some. Myself, I think it’s great when anybody has that kind of work ethic that they will do good, honest, hard work to get the results they want, whether it be in fitness, career…..anything.

    • It’s never too late! Thank you for reading it. Intimidation is definitely something I can see… but I think that goes a little with jealousy of sorts, don’t you? I’m glad you appreciate a woman with a good work ethic!

  2. Absolutely, I think that jealousy plays a part. Really, it could be anything that brings out insecurities in someone. I can only speak from my own experiences, but when I’m insecure about something, my first way of dealing with it is to lash out, and rationalize why the other person isn’t better than I am, things of that nature. And, I think you find that here, that the rationalization is that “well, this person looks better than me, so MUSCLES ON WOMEN ARE BAD!!”

    Again, this may not be the case at all. However, I think that if the effort, and results, were applauded instead of ridiculed/shot down, you wouldn’t have felt like you had to write on this.

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