June 24

Muscle Isn’t Feminine

As I proactively choose to add mass to my frame, I find myself taken aback by how much I underestimated the cultural resistance to the idea of a harmony between feminine beauty and muscular development.

Muscle isn’t feminine: a message I have heard loud and clear, day in and day out for the past several months. And the funny thing about cultural messaging is that it can be sneaky, subtle, inferred and omnipresent. Sure, I’ve had both social media strangers and some of my closest friends blatantly exclaim, “you look like a ‘dude'”. There have even been days (several, actually) when I’ve looked in the mirror at my hard-earned physique and winced, “I really do look like a dude.”  But its the quiet cultural norms and undertones that reinforce and give weight to statements like these that would normally just sting for a second before rolling away. Its the illusive idea of what constitutes femininity on an aggregate level that drives me to question every single sacrifice I’ve made:  date nights at indulgent restaurants, special occasion bottles of wine, sleeping in on Saturdays and grueling training sessions to name just a few. And why do I do this? Because I want it. Because it fuels me. Because I absolutely crave it.

But what good does that do me if I find myself breathlessly swimming upstream against a roaring current, dodging nay-sayers left and right?

It took reading my very own words to remember why:  “The world is full of noise, advertisements, and false expectations of what a woman should be.” I started SHESTRONG to initiate and add to a conversation that needs to happen. One that celebrates the success of all women on a journey of strength. Whether its a physical, emotional, athletic, intellectual or spiritual journey, strength as a noun does not change in its fundamental meaning.

To be completely fair and transparent, I have some over-the-moon unconditionally loving people in my life that not only encourage me (that’s the easy part!) but extend their hands when I can’t seem to pick myself up on my own. They know who they are; they know they are my rock.

But if you don’t have someone in your corner, someone who is REALLY in your corner and doesn’t just pat you on the back and say “good job”, let me be that voice. I don’t even have to know who you are, what you look like or what you’ve done because frankly, its irrelevant.  If you share in this movement to generate, encourage and celebrate the lives of others, then there is no room for doubt: YOU are beautiful in all meaning and all sense of the word.

 

 

Oh, and pardon me, culture? Yes, I’d just like to say:  My muscles sure make this dress of yours look good.

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