What is a beautiful female body?
As a follow-up to my recent post on Women's Biceps, I wanted to expand on this topic as it seems to be quite popular.
The simple question amongst all of the comments and thoughts is this:
"What do you consider a beautiful female body to look like?"
Now, we all have our own opinions on this and obviously, I've stated that I admire a more athletic, muscular female physique. One with somewhat defined bicep muscles, shapely hamstrings and calves and glutes with hard curves.
But, that's just me. From the time I was a young girl, this type of athletic female body has been a look I've always admired. When I was 11 years old, I'd stay up late at night on the weekends to watch American Gladiators because I thought the muscles on the men and women competitors were outstanding. Then, because I was a gymnast through much of my youth, seeing muscles on my fellow gym mates was a sign of success- those with more muscular development (to a point) were usually the best in competition. And, who doesn't want to be the best? So, for much of my life, I've wanted that defined, more muscular, female body and was not ever really attracted to the long and lean look.
Yet, I do realize that there are many (many) women that dislike muscles on women (Case in point, one of my female boot camp clients who was upset about her growing bicep muscles).
My friend Leigh Peele has also written in length about this topic in her blog posts entitled:
Leigh interview 2000+ women and found that much of them thought that the more "athletic" female body type was too "bulky" and not as desirable as a leaner, less muscular body.
For me, that just doesn't make much sense. But, I guess I wouldn't have co-written the book, The New Rules of LIFTING for Women if I didn't have the opinion that muscles and women look good together.
And again, I'm not saying I think women should look like men or anything with very large muscles, but I do feel that seeing your bicep when you stretch your arm above your head is a GOOD thing and not one to be ashamed of.
Much of this is cultural and a product of our advertising environment. If women continue to see very thin and low-muscular women on the cover of popular print magazines, they'll feel that this look is one they should strive for. Or, if women are told by their mothers, aunts, sisters, or other women in their life that women should be soft and delicate and men should be the ones with muscle, then that's what they'll believe and try to achieve.
But in my world, I'd like women to be strong. To be able to open a jar of salsa, pickles or whatever, by their selves. To be able to lift themselves up if they fall and to be able to move their own furniture if they need to pack up and go. To be able to carry their own body weight and their own children through most years of their lives without injury (we all know those car seats plus kid can weigh up to 50 lbs... that's no joke people!). And strength requires muscle. And now that I'm a mom of a very cool 5 month old daughter, I also hope she comes to appreciate being strong.
I'm glad my husband is one that likes a strong gal (if not, we wouldn't be together... that's for sure). In fact, he regularly asks me to help him move heavy items (for example, right now he's refinishing our deck and asked me to move the wooden picnic table and some of the floor boards). He also had me help a friend of his move their entire house - he and I alone carried a piano, couch, table and some humongous TV (I don't know the size exactly other than it was WAY too big IMHO) from the house to a moving truck, which was one serious workout.
However, I will not insult women who choose another path for their body - that's their choice. With my one boot camp member, I'm working on educating her of the importance of some muscle on her body, and learning to accept it as a positive benefit of working out. So far she's starting to see that it's not as 'unsightly' as she thought it was. And, she's starting to like the fact that she still fits in all of her clothes but can now do a full body pushup without any help. Not all women will see it that way, and I'll let those women continue to read Shape magazine so I can keep all the copies of Oxygen to myself :)
What do you think? I'd love to hear more from all of you. Thanks for the comments! Keep 'em coming!