Friday, June 29, 2012

Is strong REALLY beautiful?

If you've been a follower of my blog for awhile, or if you happen to know me in person, you know that food and I have not always had the best of relationships.  If you're just dropping by for the first time, well, welcome.  Food and I have not always had the best of relationships, just FYI.  

I've had my good times with food, I've had my bad times with food, and my relationship with food is something that I will always be mindful of as I go through my life.  Proper diet and weight management are things that I'm constantly thinking about.  I'm always mindful of how I look, and how I feel about myself. Last week I was having a particularly rough week.  The end of the school year was not good for my diet, and I've been feeling not so great about things lately.  And as I was searching for recipe ideas for healthy meals to cook to get myself back on track, I was just a little bit bothered by something that I kept seeing.

As I scrolled through multiple blogs and multiple posts, I kept seeing "Strong is beautiful".  This wasn't the first time I had seen the phrase, but I've noticed that this sort of "movement" has really been gaining some steam lately.  When I first started seeing all the "Strong is beautiful" stuff, I was sort of excited.  I think that moving away from the idea that every woman in the world should be a size 4 or under is a good thing.  I think it's healthy.  It's like the pendulum of beauty image began to swing in a healthy direction.  But I've been noticing lately, it seems, that more and more I'm seeing those same words attached only to pictures of extremely fit women, like Annie Thorisdottir.  Now, before anyone jumps on me and says I'm hating on Annie, allow me to say that I think Annie is gorgeous.  I think I would make out with Annie if she asked.  She is incredibly talented as an athlete and has obvious amounts of dedication to her sport.  And I'm NOT saying that women like Annie are not beautiful.

My issue with this situation is this.  By attaching the phrase "Strong is beautiful" to women like Annie, it seems to be promoting the ideal that you can't be beautiful unless you have a very low percentage of body fat and a perfectly ripped body, like Annie.  It's almost as if you can't be considered beautiful unless you look like THAT.  Yesterday Facebook (God BLESS Facebook) trended me to an article about the beautiful women of CrossFit.  Again, every single one of them had six pack abs, ripped arms, and was completely toned.  Again, are those women all beautiful? Absolutely, but again, it's almost as if the beauty image pendulum has completely swung the other way.  It's almost as if it's saying that unless you are completely toned and ripped, you are not strong or beautiful.  

In my opinion, which I know does not count for very much, there seems to be a contradiction going on.  If strong is beautiful, then regular old girls who work out hard and are trying the best they can to be healthy should be beautiful too, no? So then, if that's what we REALLY mean, where are the pictures of them?  Why are their bodies not being heralded as beautiful too?  Why are they not being featured in the same photos as the Annies of the world?  Why does it only apply to the perfect physiques of the CrossFit goddesses? 

Would I love to be a CrossFit goddess and look like Annie? Absolutely.  (It would probably help my dating life a lot..... then again, shutting my mouth and not always expressing my opinions might too.... but I digress.)  I think we all would because, let's be honest, those abs are freaking awesome and who WOULDN'T want to have those?  But I know that the particular amount of dedication to CrossFit and dieting that it would take for me to get there is just not in my cards right now.  But in the meantime, does that mean that I'm not beautiful?  (Be careful how you answer that question.... this is MY blog after all.... :P) Does it mean that the woman who just dropped 20 lbs isn't beautiful?  Does that mean that the woman who is a size 10 and deadlifting 275, but does not have ripped arms isn't beautiful? 

This post is NOT trying to take anything away from the hard work those women have put into their dieting and their sport, but I just think that we (and by "we" I mean society) need to slow down and think carefully about "Strong is beautiful" and how exactly that message is being portrayed.  I think it's great that people are finally coming around to the idea that stronger women and athletes are beautiful, but I think that if we are not careful about how we send this message, then we will have missed a very important boat altogether.  If strong is truly beautiful, then I think we need to begin to celebrate the beauty truly, as it is, in all different kinds of shapes and sizes.  


Erin said...

Katie--I wonder this too and even own a nike shirt with the slogan. I see others in our box wearing such things and I smile as most of us are strong bada$$'s--but most of us don't have Annie's six pack. I think it is more important to embrace my thick thighs and fact I will might always wear a size 10/12 jacket in order to fit my shoulders and arms no matter what my waist size and just enjoy the physical strength I do have. As I write this, does STRONG necessarily have to mean 'strong' in the sense I can lift heavy sh#$?? Or can it mean being strong mentally and emotionally?? Or strong in our convictions? Or just that we are strong women in all that we do--inside and outside the gym? Have you followed Sarah Robles lately?? Check out this link--

I think she's pretty awesome and beautiful..check out her lifting videos.

Gray Weaver said...

While reading this all I could think about is the Saucony commercial, 'What is strong?'. I watch it when I need some instant motivation. Even though it is geared more to running (which is why I love it) I think it still applies if you really think about the words. So does strong translate to beautiful, I think that depends on who you ask. There is something beautiful about giving your all to be the best you can be in a physical activity. Pushing beyond your comfort zone and laying raw the human spirit, testing the limits of your mind, body, and THAT is beautiful!!

Christine said...

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Cliche or just a well used truth? I would say the latter. Anyone who has held the hand of the newly born or the dying knows that beauty is found in the most u expected places. To confine it to the physical dimensions of corporal matter, is to deny that we aremade differently than all other creatures. Whether you call it spirit, intellect, soul, the human's true beauty is found I that which is perceived by the heart and not the senses.