Yesterday I came across a great blog post called “What happens when the pursuits of “skinny” and “strong” collide?” , it talks about the new trend of saying ‘Strong is the new skinny’.
I have heard this slogan before, I have seen the photos that often accompany it – women who have not eaten anything for a day so that their six-pack is visible, women who not only have muscles but are in fact skinny as well. I have never thought much of it and just shrugged it off as yet another ‘fad’ doing the rounds on Pinterest, but I realise now that on some level these kinds of photos have changed the way I think someone fit should look like.
The post on Fit & Feminist blog points out that “skinny” and “strong” are actually describing different things so should not be compared at all – “skinny” refers to how one looks, “strong”, however, refers to what one’s body is capable of doing.
A light bulb moment for me. Strong is not the new skinny. Strong has nothing to do with skinny or not skinny. Strong is what you can DO.
Yesterday I had a great CrossFit session at lunchtime, I achieved a PB in back squat (5×3 reps at 50kg last week, 60kg this week :) BUT I was feeling off in the evening. I was feeling tired and hungry, and frustrated that I was feeling tired and hungry… even though I’ve either ran or done CrossFit for 4 days in a row. And I was frustrated that after 8 months of CrossFit my arms are still fat and my muffin top still keeps revealing itself when I don’t stick to strict no-grains diet for a few days.
I had started to do something that I always keep telling people not to do – I was comparing myself to others. Probably without realising I was comparing myself to the women who are usually seen on the ‘Strong is the new skinny’ images and definitely also to the few women in my CrossFit classes who have very nice muscles.
Reading this post snapped me right out of this negative mindset, it reminded me why I exercise – I don’t do it to enter competitions where I’m judged by how I look, I do it to feel strong.
I remembered that even though I love CrossFit, I don’t aspire to look like the fittest woman in Europe and in general I don’t get a lot of the CrossFit photos that are out there (squatting heavy weight in hot pants just does not make sense to me).
I remembered that I don’t buy women’s magazines, even fitness ones (other than Women’s Running).
And I promised myself to cut myself some slack for not having a six-pack and to just enjoy what my body can do.
How do you cope with being bombarded by images of what ‘fit’ looks like? Can ‘fit’ or ‘strong’ be put into photos at all? Could ‘fit’ or ‘strong’ be photographed without showing off every inch of someone’s insanely toned body? Does any of what I just wrote make sense to you? ;)