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Blogs by coach Veronica

This one is for the ladies…..
I am definitely not one to stir the pot or win a debate, I don’t have thick skin, and I rarely make my feelings known on controversial topics in a public forum, but I felt compelled to open up a bit on what seems to be the new double standard in how we define feminine strength and beauty…..At first glance, the new-ish catchphrase, “Strong is the new Skinny” sounds empowering, liberating, kind of ground breaking for those of us who have somewhat reluctantly had to trade in our cap-sleeved shirts for tank tops and struggled with body image in a skinny obsessed culture.  Finally, well-developed muscles are sexy, woo-hoo!   Time to slap on the booty shorts and squat till we drop!  Yay, high fives all around, we can stop worrying about getting too bulky and start celebrating our well-earned muscular curves by actually filling out our skinny jeans with confidence and a feeling of acceptance!

And yet, I have a big issue with this supposed positive shift in the female perspective of what it looks like to be strong, fit AND sexy.  The accompanying picture that you usually see with the above tagline is more than likely a fitness model (instead of a CrossFitter, power lifter, or strongwoman) with lots of aesthetically pleasing and extremely well defined and well-proportioned muscles enhanced with lots of baby oil.  She is also very lean with no signs of cellulite, stretch marks, or dimples.  I am willing to bet that this model knew about the photo shoot well in advance and restricted her caloric and water intake to look this way (no post-WOD Voodoo for this gal), and with the help of photoshop, we could use her poster in both a muscular and probably vascular system anatomy lesson.  No, she is not emaciated with ribs, hip bones and collar bones protruding out, but she sure doesn’t have an inch to pinch.  So while it is now cool and acceptable for girls with strong muscles to be considered sexy, this new musculature has to also be aesthetically pleasing and highly defined or “shredded.”  Nothing should be hanging out of our booty shorts and no hint of a muffin top above our skinny jeans.   Crap, now we have to give up one obsession for another, one set of extreme and idealistic expectations of physical strength and beauty for another.
Let me clarify though, that female athletes, just like ALL women, come in many different genetically predisposed body types.  Some of us are naturally lean and don’t have to work too hard to be that way, in fact, putting on muscle mass can be a frustrating struggle.  Some of us perform a little better with a protective layer over our six-packs.  And some of us do naturally have that lean and highly defined muscular body type.  What I love to see as a coach is that amazing athletes come from ALL of these body types.  What I have issue with though, is that our feats of strength and physical accomplishments still seem to be overshadowed by how aesthetically pleasing our muscles look in our lulus.
Usually the girls who stand on top of the podium in our sport don’t have the extremely shredded look of the fitness models associated with the “Strong is the new Skinny” advertising.  In order for these very well trained and well rounded professional athletes to make it through a grueling 3 day competition (aka Regionals), they are probably going to need a little extra cushion for the lifting, pulling, climbing, rowing, running, AND the pushing.  Strong and skinny have very different meanings; strong describes what the body is physically able to do whereas skinny describes aesthetics.  Not trying to be being derogatory here, it is just that the two words are not synonymous with each other.  Strong comes in all shapes and sizes, let’s celebrate all of them!