Tuesday, September 07, 2010

is strong the new skinny?

I'd like to thank Miss Lyn C. for posting this article on her FB page. In this post, the author asks, "Is strong the new skinny?" He then proceeds to call for women and the media to challenge the status quo and make strong the new skinny. I understand the author's point. Yes. Popular media is inundated with overly skinny women that look hungry and unhealthy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to see a CrossFit body on a billboard, TV set, or movie screen. In fact, the author declares at the end of his post, "I wanna see a girl with some muscles in the Victoria’s Secret catalog in the next few years." I get it.

I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I commend what I believe to be is a genuine effort in wanting to re-vision women in popular media. However, as a scholar whose research focuses on beauty and body image, I would like to offer a critical take on the matter.

First off, to make this declaration by using the above photo is for me, inappropriate. If the author wants to change the status quo and make strong the new skinny, then I challenge him to show me what strong looks like. If this is his image of strong, all I'm reading is: BOOBS are the new BOOBS and these are the BOOBS I want to see in a Victoria's Secret catalog in the next few years. By the way, thanks to my friend for letting me use her BOOBS for this post. Something is wrong with the translation here.

Second, it is a historical fact that by and large, men have controlled popular media. (There is a plethora of knowledge out there that addresses this. For now, I say start with Naomi Wolf's book. If you're looking for something riveting to watch, check out America the Beautiful by Darryl Roberts. When you're done, email me and I'll suggest more titles.) Therefore, those images of skinny women that the male author is complaining about are created by men. Just like him (um, but with lots of money and power to boot). Unfortunately, there is this thing called patriarchy that never really left. Believe me, if I had the choice, the last thing I resort to as a source of inspiration is a starving model - but that's just me and my harsh judgement calls and bitter envy (but not really). It's also a symptom of a society that pretends to care about what women want and need, yet fail to simply ask women what these wants and needs are.

Third, I really like that the author posted his source of inspiration. Those women in the video really are bad ass. No joke. I can see why he calls for a revision of the current beauty standards that are so popular today. I guess I may have to take back my earlier comment (but not really; I stand by my BOOBIE defense). However, I'm always hesitant when people propose to replace one standard of beauty with yet another standard of beauty (regardless of how well meaning it is). In all seriousness, do we really need this replacement? Does this actually help women progress? In his film, Roberts asks a similar question. My personal answer is no. I do not think replacing one standard of beauty for another one is helpful. Beauty standards exist so that those in power maintain their power. (It's that whole patriarchy thing again.) It has always been my fantasy that beauty standards do not exist at all. That we embrace women (and men and everything in between) exactly as we are. That is the revolution that I would like to take part in. I would give my life for that cause.

This leads me to my fourth point. I commend the author for wanting to "FUCK THE STATUS QUO!" However, to do so would entail re-visioning how we understand women and media imagery. Unfortunately, women are judged by their bodies - skinny, muscular, fat, ugly, pretty, etc. At no point does the author express actually getting to know women beyond our bodies. This is the part that bothers me the most. The core of a woman is not reflected in her body. Rather, it is in her mind, her desires, how she treats others, what she contributes to the world, etc. If we want to "FUCK THE STATUS QUO!"I highly recommend that we start by understanding that a woman should not be defined by her body alone. This applies in the CrossFit sense. When I think of the various CrossFit she-roes in my life, they are my role models because of what they can do, how their amazing presence enriches my life, and how they push me to be a better person. I adore these women because who they are is beyond what their bodies look like.

Finally, I understand the author is a guy. He's going to want a Victoria's Secret catalog that fits his personal taste. Fine. I'll give him that. (In all seriousness... am I really supposed to glorify his post when the author's ultimate desire is to re-define lingerie models?! [insert image of me rolling my eyes followed by head shaking in disbelief]) However, I would like to declare that as a self-proclaimed strong and sexy woman, I have never felt the need to find approval and self confidence in the pages of a Victoria's Secret catalog. Any company that does not have the sense to carry my bra size is not worth my time. Further, I've never needed Miss Victoria's permission to prance around in my sexy underwear.

I determine my sexy.
I determine my strength.
I determine my value.
I define my limits.
This is how I "FUCK THE STATUS QUO!" I invite everyone to exercise the same liberties.
[end rant]

Moving on, here are some articles I though you'd be interested in:
25 Best Nutrition Secrets
Retro Workouts That Still Work

Today's Small Victories
I'm really glad I wrote today's post!

THREE rounds of:
10 OHS
10 push-ups
10 AbMat sit-ups
10 shoulder rolls
250 meter row

CrossFit One World WOD
Complete the following for time:
10 squat cleans 65#
10 jumping pull-ups
100m run
9 squat cleans 65#
9 jumping pull-ups
100m run
1 squat clean
1 jumping pull-up
100m run

Joanne's Final Time - 23:53

Notes (to myself) about this workout: This WOD sucked. I really need to work on those pull-ups!

1 comment:

Gladys said...


brilliantly articulated, indeed.