Body Image Fitness Inspiration Lifestyle

Strong Isn’t the New Skinny.

skin·ny (adjective)
1(of a person or part of their body) very thin. 

Have you checked out Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter lately? Being strong is the new “in” thing! Strong is the new skinny! Yay!

You know, I absolutely LOVE to see a rising interest from women to hit the weights, get stronger, and go about fitness in a more mentally positive way!

But- let’s think for a second here.

Is it actually a positive mentality?
Is replacing one ideal body type with another really the way to go?

By shouting  “Strong is the NEW skinny!” from the rooftops and replacing one societal imposed upheld “ideal” of beauty with another ideal, aren’t we just setting up another image for people to aspire to?

There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to become leaner, healthier, fitter. But the danger comes when comparing yourself to an image of someone else, a “blueprint,” if you will of what you should look like.

You see, over the years, there have been different ideals of body images. This ubiqitous graphic that I’m sure we’ve all seen a hundred times says it all: “When did this…become hotter than this?”
The thing is, we collectively created this mentality by glorifying a new “ideal” instead of celebrating our own bodies and striving for health above all. The same way people are doing now with fit, “toned” bodies.

Women often say, “I was born in the wrong decade!” Longing for the days when curves and womanly physiques were en vogue.

But can’t you celebrate your body RIGHT NOW? In THIS decade? Just because popular culture decided it wasn’t the thing anymore, that’s not a reason to rock your body the way it is. That’s just ludicrous.

And what’s wrong with celebrating strength without feeling the need to equate it to something that means “very thin,” “delicate,” and “fragile?”

I feel like as women, we’re apologizing for wanting to be strong. We’re saying, “It’s okay, society! We don’t want to JUST be strong, we want to be strong because it’s the NEW skinny! This is the fashionable thing! Don’t forget it!”

I don’t know about you, but I like being strong just simply the way it is.

strong [strawng, strong] (adjective)
1. having, showing, or able to exert great bodily or muscular power; physically vigorous or robust
2 .accompanied or delivered by great physical, mechanical, etc., power or force
3. mentally powerful or vigorous
4. especially able, competent, or powerful in a specific field or respect
5. of great moral power, firmness, or courage

Man. I like that definition much better.  Robust, forceful, vigorous, powerful, couragous- those are the things I want to aspire to! Not just “very thin.”

Hmm. Now that’s interesting.

I didn’t see “ripped,” “cut,” “6-pack,” or “conventionally beautiful” in that definition. It’s interesting because nearly every “fitspo” photo you see with this catchphrase advertises someone that fits all of those things. I mean, I know plenty of people that have 6 packs that aren’t strong. I’m strong and I don’t have a 6 pack! And you know what? It’s totally cool.

Don't look like her? Guess you're not "strong enough."

Don’t look like her? Guess you’re not “strong enough.”

I aspire to be strong in many aspects. I aspire for a strong body, a strong mind, a strong sense of compassion, among many other things. While of course, if gaining a 6 pack abs is your goal in life and that is the only thing that will make you happy, then go for it. (Sometimes tells me, however, that a 6 pack is not necessarily the cure to all of our problems.)

But don’t trade one impossible ideal for another. Celebrate you as you are right now. Create fitness goals that make you feel amazing, promote health and wellness and a positive outlook! Do you absolutely hate counting macros or calories? Stop it. Do you feel intimidated by Crossfit competitions? Don’t do them. Does the thought of running a marathon send you into a nervous breakdown? Don’t sign up for one.

Blessed with a 50s-esque curvy figure? Rock it. Naturally thin? Rock it. Don’t have a thigh gap? Rock it. Have naturally wide set hips and thin thighs? Rock it. Have a little extra pudge in your lower tummy? Rock it. Have gangly legs? Rock it. There’s room for all of us to feel beautiful and worthy of love and acceptance.

I saw a really great quote that stuck with me- “Life it too short to spend it at war with yourself.”

Ain’t that the truth! So stop fighting the battle against yourself and start working with what ya got. You’ve got what it takes to be the best version of yourself that you can be, whatever that means to you! Hint: it’s not always being as lean as humanly possible. (Although bodybuilders- naturally you guys are excluded here, naturally 🙂 )

I know I’m not the only blogger that’s touched on this topic, but I just wanted to input my %0.02 as it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently!

The journey to self-acceptance and self-love is not a common one, especially in the fitness world, but it’s the one that will lead to peace and a strong mind and I wish that for everyone. In the landscape of “OBSESSED IS A WORD THE LAZY USE TO CALL THE DEDICATED” and “DON’T QUIT TIL YOU PUKE” I feel like sometimes we need to just take a second here and get real.

You are enough. Never forget that.

Want some more positive inspiration? Check out some of my all time favorite fit bloggers that preach a healthy mentality:  Girls Gone Strong, Erin Brown, and Go Kaleo, to name a few. Go find them on Facebook, as well- they’re a welcome refreshment from the nonsense you tend to see on your timeline. You won’t regret it, I promise!

Now go out there and be strong.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Jessica Culver November 24, 2013 at 5:14 am

    thank goodness another woman has this same outlook! This bodybuilding/aesthetics culture is just a trend. Abs and pecs and biceps and huge legs and “shesquatsbro” and all that stuff is so popular right now… ugh it makes me gag. The way I see it is the same way you do – you can have 6-pack abs but still be WAYYYYY weaker and even unhealthier than actual strength athletes (such as powerlifters, for example), so it just proves that strong does not mean six pack abs, and vice versa. strong is relative. a six pack is just a look and it doesnt mean as much as this bodybuilding culture makes it out to be.
    youre totally right, strong isn’t a visual image, it’s a TRAIT! You can’t “see” strong, you can only BE and FEEL strong… and that means VERY different things to ppl and doesn’t discriminate body types.
    this nonsense trend should rename itself from “strongisthenewskinny” to “absarethenewskinny” because honestly its all focused on aesthetics, not on true health and strength. It’s no different than idolizing curves or thigh gaps or big biceps. Just another source of body image issues. Next thing ya know, it’ll be fat-is-the-new-strong. Never happy! lol

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