Female fitness: optimization or masculinization?


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What do you think the most beautiful female body looks like?

Is it like this?

Or like this?

Or most probably, especially in paleo circles, it looks like this:

(For more of these, see Crossfit Babes at Tumblr.   There are thousands.)

HOT.  These women have got breasts and hips and beautiful sets of abs.  They’re defined, and they’re strong, and that’s something that we value very highly.  And holy crap, that woman doing the one handed push up, I’ll have sex dreams about her for a week.

Many years ago, we thought that fat women were hot.  That was socialized.  Then we thought super-corseted, rounded women were hot.  That was socialized, too.  Then we got angry about masculine dominance of modern society, and we set out to claim as much equality as possible.   We’ve got female athletes.  We’ve got title IX.  We’ve got weight lifters.  Bad.  Ass.

People in the paleo community I think are especially attuned to this.  We are feminists.  We also believe in strength, rather than in being thin and supermodelly, such that I see at least one post a month in the paleosphere that advocates fit, strong, womanly hotness.

I am (was–this was me four months ago, not today) fit, strong, womanly hotness.

Yes, I cropped my face out of this photo.  No, I will not tell you how often I dress like this.

But I wonder: is this a socialized norm, too?

We are still constructing notions of beauty.  We are still putting different bodies on pedastals.  We can’t help it.  We are human, and we have tastes!  The thing is: I wonder, since we are reacting so strongly to the masculine culture, and since we are excited about athelticism, are we taking those ideas to the extreme and idealizing the hot, muscled body?

When are we going to idealize what’s healthy?

Healthy spans a big, big range.  I get that.  Some women are very healthy and very thin.  Some women are healthiest at higher BMIs, and might look more like this:

Ok.  I don’t have a photo.  I googled “woman bmi 25″ and “woman not super fit” and all sorts of phrases and got nothing but photos of women pinching fat and crouching over scales.  nothing.   I did get these nice graphics, though:


The whole point being: next time you’re striving to flatten out your tummy, and it’s not working, and you don’t have an eight pack, or you don’t have huge biceps because your arms just don’t get that thin, GREAT.  FLAB can be sexy.  Fuck, guys, I mean it.  Embrace it.  Men can go to super low body fats and be healthy.  They don’t have babies.  Women can’t.  Deal.   Be one with your natural femininity.

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02 2012

6 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. Audrey #

    THANK YOU!!!!…I am a mom of 2 boys and have been crossfitting for about 3 years…I can do pullups, and can deadlift and bench more than most men at my gym..sure they stare..but I love my ripped back, and would much rather be strong, then skinny!

    • pepper #

      Yes, awesome! Strong is better than skinny, but that wasn’t the end of my point. I am wondering if our strong ideal is hurting women’s health– it eschews fat just as much as the “skinnY” ideal, and that’s not good for us by any means.

  2. sarah #

    Melissa at Hunt.Gather.Love wrote about this last year: http://huntgatherlove.com/content/womens-set-points
    and a few weeks ago also http://huntgatherlove.com/node/680

    I think it’s a really interesting topic. I remember reading an article in some fashion magazine around the time that GI Jane came out about how the new ‘hotness’ which is skinny and strong is even harder to achieve than just being skinny, which I kind of agree with. Strong and skinny is definitely healthier than skinny skinny, but is much harder to achieve.

    Also, I don’t think it’s men per se who put these crazy ideals on us, it’s other women. The majority of men I know like healthy women (flat stomach with a butt and boobs) regardless of what their exact height/weight ratio is. Not sayin it’s not the patriarchy that’s making us do that, just sayin that men’s lizard brains or whatever have it right (in terms of reproductive health) and that it is society that is fucking us up.

    • pepper #

      Yea– Melissa’s always been a badass on body image.

      No, of course it’s not men. It’s not women, either, I’d argue. I think it’s both. Re: haha– Audrey’s post above and Mike’s post below. Empirical data at its finest.

  3. 5

    A redhead with abs and muscles. Triple whammy, wow. ;)

    • pepper #

      Thanks, but again I think we’re missing the point here.

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