I’m pretty sure that’s not how the saying goes, but it seems more fitting these days than the original “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.
I’m sure most of us, including myself, have judged someone for whatever reason. These judgements usually come in the form of assumptions we make about a person’s character based on how they look, walk, talk etc. This is talked about a lot in reference to obese and overweight populations. It’s not something I have had to deal with in my life thankfully, as I have never been obese and even at my heaviest, only just qualified as overweight based on my BMI (which was 27 in case you were wondering) according to my doctor. So, while that population unjustly receives a lot of judgement, I do not feel it is my place to talk about it. Instead I want to talk about a more nuanced form of judgment. That is the judgement that comes with being a female bodybuilder.
While I would not generally classify myself as a bodybuilder, for the purposes of this blog that is what I am. People who are not part of the weightlifting/bodybuilding cultures group it all into one thing and that is how I will address it.
I cannot tell you how many times I have had people ask me about my musculature or how often I work out. I take it as a compliment almost 100% of the time. The problem is that I’m not always sure it’s intended as one. Frequently these questions or comments are followed up with “Not that it looks bad!” or “But you don’t look bulky!” or the worst one “I would never know if you were wearing sleeves!”.
Let’s clear this up. If a girl is working out 4-6 days a week she probably wants to look the way she does. It doesn’t happen by accident, it’s hard work. I don’t know what people expect… maybe they think that because I am a “bodybuilder” I would look like a linebacker in a dress?
The thing is that while I was in competition prep I was very lean, which means I was small… like, tiny by my standards. But you gain weight back, you look normal, probably curvier than the average because of the extra muscle. My back is broader than most, I have biceps and a BUTT! My shoulders are fuller and my quads have a sweep that most girls would not want. But I WANT IT!
There is a whole spectrum of beauty out there and it completely changes from person to person. If someone does not meet your standard of beauty, that’s ok. You don’t need to make excuses for it or explain to them how they could or should meet that standard because they probably operate under a different set of goals.
Take the girls at the top of Figure competition: Nicole Wilkins and Erin Stern.
When Erin won the Olympia this past year (Nicole came in second) there were pictures of her all over Facebook. Most comments were supportive or envious of her. But a large amount (shocking large to me) were extremely critical and negative. Comments such as:
– She looks like a man
– If she didn’t have implants I wouldn’t know she was a woman
– She looks gross
– Her veins are popping out… ew
– She must be on steroids
This is a woman who dedicates herself to her sport and all people can see is whether or not she meets the classical definition of female beauty which seems to be frail and thin. The classic damsel in distress not able to open her own pickle jar!
There is a movement towards strength for women though, a movement which I support and encourage at every possible turn.
I am unfortunately guilty of making justifications for my body too. I perpetuate this problem by saying things like, I’m only this lean for the competition, or my arms are only this big because I’m bulking right now, as if those are bad things! But I will promise you all right now that I won’t make those excuses anymore. I am proud to be a strong woman!
And you should be proud too! Proud to be a curvy woman, a petite woman, a modelesque woman, or whatever you are… be proud and don’t make excuses for the way you are.
One more thing though. Go after YOUR idea of what beauty is. If you are a curvy girl who wants to be leaner, then go for it! If you are a thin girl who wants a bigger booty, get squatting! Just do it in a healthy way for your mind and body and know that at the end of the day it is your idea of beauty that matters.
Keep your eyes open and your mouth shut and take in all the different beauty this world has to offer free of judgement!
Rant over! …until next time 🙂