Just in the same way that women and men are expected to train differently, there is a clear differential between the sexes when it comes to what is acceptable for each to look like. A few days ago a friend of mine posted the picture below on Facebook. Although she is gorgeous the way she is, my friend captioned the picture by stating that the girl in the photograph is who she wants to look like.
It did not take long for the negative comments to roll in. The comments were along the lines of: she looks like a man, she has no curves, why would you want to have visible muscle, etc. What irked me the most was one comment which said the world is too fake if women are expected to have a six pack.
To me, she looked beautiful, womanly and sexy. I commented a couple of times before leaving it. I wasn’t wasting my time fighting an internet war with people I didn’t even know. But I see situations like this all the time, where people are so quick to judge without knowing the facts – and they still don’t listen when you offer a rational explanation.
To compete in a bodybuilding contest is physically and mentally exhausting, not to mention the constant criticism women face for doing so. Do people really think that women are doing it to fit into some mould of society?
I believe competing is a completely personal experience, and something that you do purely for yourself. The drive and dedication comes from within. I do not know a single competitor who hasn’t faced a negative response from a family member or friend. I haven’t even competed and I deal with these kinds of comments frequently.
Why is society so quick to tell a woman what she should and should not look like?
Why is it okay for someone to immediately dismiss a woman’s goals as a bad idea, when you would never say the same thing to a man? Why are women tormented for being too fat, too muscular, too soft or too manly? Do I call men feminine if they have less muscle than me? No. Shouldn’t a woman be allowed to desire whatever body she damn well feels like?
As for the frequent suggestion that a woman is acting like a man if she lifts weights – why is resistance training such a gendered activity? I never feel more confident, strong or indeed more womanly than when I’m in the gym. I really do wonder if all the negative criticism from men stems from the fact that they are terrified of women being stronger or more muscular than them. The bashing is not only coming from men, but women too.
My biggest role model for positive body image is Dana Linn Bailey. As one of the most prominent female physique competitors, she cops a lot of flak for her body. Whenever she posts a photo on her Facebook page, about a third of the hundreds of comments she receives are incredibly rude and negative about her appearance (as an aside: WHY do so many people hate-follow people on Facebook, blogs, etc?!).
When I first saw a picture of Dana, I admit I thought she had more muscle than I would like to have. But I began following her and watching her videos, and she’s now one of my favourite competitors. I think she’s incredibly hot – she is proud of her own body, and she should be! I admire her so much because her training method is incredibly hardcore, and she doesn’t take shit from anyone. She’s not going to crawl up in a ball crying and miss her training session because someone said she looks like a “gross dude on steroids”. She will hit it harder and show these idiots that it doesn’t matter what they say.
There is too much female body hatred in the world. Ladies need to stick together and support each other whatever their body shape may be. Please, let’s take the focus off body fat and focus on becoming as strong as possible. Embrace the body you were given and work to become the best version of you possible. Ignore what other people say and do it for yourself!
Have you ever received negative criticism for your goals or physique?