I think one of the biggest failings of American culture, was making women think that a number on a scale or a tape measure determined the extent of their beauty. Size and weight are factors that do not exclusively tell any story. 130 lbs can look very different on 3 different women. The almost unanimous goal of all women to be “skinny”, is a vague and possibly a wholly improper goal, if not qualified with more information. What does “skinny” mean? What does that mean for “you”? The problem is that women have been given the wrong goal. They should be striving to be healthy and fit over being skinny.
A very good friend of mine, Collette Stohler, writes a blog called “The Intuitive Athlete” aimed at young women looking to expand their knowledge of healthy living, fitness, and goal setting. One of Collette’s main principles of “The Intuitive Athlete” is that strong, not skinny, is the new sexy. Being strong is a state of mind that is then transposed to the physical. To be a strong woman physically, you must also be a strong woman mentally. While I could speak for hours about the value of being strong mentally, for the purpose of this post I want to focus on the desire to be strong physically.
Let me qualify my statement of strong is the new sexy by saying that there is no specific weight or size that goes along with being strong. It also does not mean that every woman needs to have ripped abs or bulging muscles to achieve the goal of being strong. Being strong, however, does require the building of muscle. Lean muscle mass is what makes the body appear tight and firm. Firm can be achieved in a body that is big like sprinter or lean like a dancer, however both have significant muscle mass. One of the best things that Crossfit has achieved, despite all it’s other failings, is that it has made average women see the positive benefit of real strength training. It has made women realize that bring strong and fit, even having muscle, is desirable. Being soft, no matter how skinny, isn’t nearly as attractive, or more importantly, as healthy as being strong.
As women age, well technically as all people age, they naturally begin to lose muscle mass if they don’t work to keep it. It is for this reason that in their mid 30’s – 40’s, you see so many “skinny” women with the flabby underarm and other similar physical traits of muscle loss. To avoid this, women need to do two things that seemingly society has instructed them to avoid doing: eat more protein and strength train. Both of these efforts help to make you not just physically better looking, but also just generally healthier. As a former personal trainer at Equinox, I’ve heard the wide range of hypocritical goals that women have with relation to their bodies. They are aging, noticing their body getting softer, but want to get rid of their flab without ever building any muscle. A challenge that I have yet to ever figure out how to conquer, nor is it a puzzle that I wanted to figure out. Why would you be afraid of building muscle? I understand not wanting to look like a female body builder. That is a very specific type of look that only appeals to some people; but it also takes an obscene amount of effort and focus to ever come close to achieving that look. However, if you want to make your arms or stomach or butt tighter, it takes the building of muscle. To build muscle you must build strength. Again the goal is strong.
I have more then a few female friends who were always “skinny” and/or “healthy”, but wanted to change their bodies to become stronger, fitter, and sexier. But before they could make the physical changes, they had to make a mental change. They needed to be able to look in the mirror and see the positive change with regards to their sexual attractiveness. They needed to believe that strong really is sexy. The ability to not just look firm and athletic, but to be truly healthy and fit as well is absolutely sexy. Any guy that doesn’t find an athletic and strong girl sexy, is just insecure about their own strength. That is, however, not a woman’s problem. A woman wouldn’t sacrifice her professional goals and/or turn down a promotion because it intimidated a man, so why should she treat her physical appearance any differently? Just like success became sexy, Strong is becoming sexy too.
The last thing I want to say, is to reiterate the fact that by being strong does not imply that you must be ripped to be sexy. Strong is about the ability to handle physical challenges because you have the muscle to do so. It means that you’re capable of and working towards being stronger. Ultimately, your diet will determine how lean you get. Be however you want to be, and look however you want to look. But, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself to be stronger. It’s not that “skinny” is ugly, or anything of the sort. Women can be beautiful in any form. However, it’s that the goal should be to be strong, not skinny. So change culture, change your mindset, change your body. Become strong, because Strong is Sexy!