Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Body Image Role Models

Body image is something that follows us around like a shadow, especially within this industry. We all say that we want to be strong, fast and savage; but we also don't want girls to run away when we take off our shirts.

There seems to be this large dichotomy between the ideal body image that men have for women and vice versa. While no one should be training specifically so that the opposite gender/gender of choice will find them attractive, we'd all be lying if we said that this wasn't important. This topic came to mind yesterday when I was talking to a friend that I've also been training and helping with marathon prep.

She's an athletic female in her early/mid-twenties who has always been active (running and volleyball). She has started weight training and taking her diet seriously in the last several months after some influencing conversations from yours truly. She had a goal to run the NYC Marathon, prepared successfully and then got washed out by Hurricane Sandy.

While talking about a recent workout, my friend mentioned how she was scared of getting bulky and how she wanted to look like Sarah Jessica Parker not Jessica Biel.

Da Fuuuuuuuuuuck?!?!?

This is where that dichotomy happens. A lot of females would rather look like Sarah Jessica Parker...

...than look like Jessica Biel. Aka the lady who snagged Timberlake.

Now, don't get me wrong. Sarah Jessica Parker looks just fine...for a skinnyfat woman with zero muscle mass on her body. Very Madonna-esque. But it just baffles me that someone would rather look like her than Biel, because Biel is too bulky.

The ideal body-type that has permeated our culture is one of a sedentary lifestyle devoid of calories and physical exertion. You want to look like SJP? Eat only kale and take your training advice from this chuckledick. Make sure you lift nothing over 3 pounds ever so that you can get osteopenia as early as possible.

Why don't we celebrate a female body that can perform? Why do we look at male athletes and think "perfect body" and look at female athletes and think "she looks like a man"? In a society where we strive for gender-equality, why does this double standard slip continue to slip through the cracks?

Our media, too, has done a great job with making women think that lifting anything remotely heavy will cause their muscles to blow up like balloons into a caricature of a bodybuilder. Truth is, gaining muscle size (hypertrophy) is just about the hardest thing to do with your body. Strength gains and weight loss are fairly simple to achieve, but getting bigger muscles is pretty difficult. The majority of women who are going to the gym to achieve a particular body type don't lift often enough, heavy enough or eat enough food to be able to sustain any growth.

Consider this rant closed...for the time being. Consider your lifestyle and your goals when you decide the ideal body-image for yourself. Have a great day, and go lift something heavy!

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