Female body image in the sport that inspires so many to “Push the Boundaries of Expectation”
While CrossFit women have opened the door to ending body discrimination among genders, the expectations of their “ripped” muscles seem to do no more good than the images of size 00 underwear models.
When most people attack ads they attack the shape and size of the models for being too “perfect” and detrimental to the standards females think they have to reach in order to be beautiful. This “skinny shaming” can be just as bad as making fun of someone for being termed “overweight”. However, it is not the pictures themselves that are hurting us, it’s the way we perceive them! We can’t look at a picture and tell ourselves, “that’s it- that’s the way I have to look”. It is OK to have a tiny waist, but it’s also OK if you don’t. While I think marketing campaigns should be more inclusive of the body types they portray in commercials, magazines, movies and TV shows, I also think it’s part of our job to change the way we look at those things. There is no such thing as a definitive, beautiful body type, and that’s what we need to accept.
When we see both of these images we immediately think of the unnattainable, because we think that those bodies are the things we need to attain. Most of us put ourselves down and delve into insecurities we didn’t know still existed. We think that this is exactly what we need to look like to be a confident, impressive woman, but it isn’t.
How to actually be a confident, impressive woman:
1.) NO shame. NONE at all– When I first started CrossFit I wasn’t scared to gain muscle; I embraced the thought of my biceps showing signs of growth. The problem was, and still is, most of society isn’t ready to accept this body image in females. Not necessarily just the chiseled figure of Sam Briggs, but also the image of a woman with big arms, a small muscular chest and a lack of curves. It’s rejected because it makes a lot of people, especially men (cough*cough* high school boys), uncomfortable to see women who are showing their capability to gain the muscle and features which were exclusive to males for so long. At the same time, I hear girls at school making fun of females who have bodies that they’ve associated with a man’s. People will say “Wow, she looks like a man” or “He is pretty muscular” when looking at images of females. It’s an insult due to the fact that the people think only men are capable of having muscles. It’s not an insult on the other hand to be told you have large muscles. That is something to be proud of. Be proud of the fact that you get up every morning anxious to hit your next PR. Never feel ashamed for having certain features be called “masculine”, because they’re not. Every feature on you is “feminine” because you’re a female. So embrace it!
2.) Focus on the inside (cliché, but true)– One of the reasons I first fell in love with CrossFit was because I didn’t think there were any expectations I needed to uphold in the way I looked. I thought the reason for that was because there’s no emphasis on training to look good or show off, but only to get healthier and stronger. Stop worrying about what you see in the mirror, and start worrying how you’re treating yourself and others; mentally and physically. I know that I feel my best when I am eating a relatively strict paleo diet, not because I’m losing weight (which I’m definitely not trying to do) but because I’m choosing to eat healthy. I gain confidence when I stick up for myself. I gain confidence when I take risks. You have to find out what makes you confident and happy on the inside, because no matter how much you look in the mirror, you’ll never be able to see a content person unless you’re satisfied with the life you choose to live. One way I learned to help get over insecurities is to imagine myself as a little girl. I would never say to that little girl that she wasn’t good enough, or that she needed to look or dress a certain way to be happy. I always keep in mind that little girl because she’s still there and always will be.
3.) Don’t think about other people– I thought that I had to look a certain way to reveal my strength to other people. Specifically, I wanted to have huge arm muscles so people would know that I wasn’t weak. Well, it’s been two and a half years since I started CrossFit and my arms still show no sign of that. However, in the past two and a half years I’ve accomplished things with CrossFit I never imagined I’d be able to do! So long as I know that I choose to embrace strength it doesn’t matter for other people to see it. Strength is internal, no matter how heavy you lift. The same goes for wanting other features enlarged in order to attract or impress the opposite sex. Never let what a guy says or thinks about your body define who you are as a person.
4.) Don’t encourage the Self-Doubt– All over Instagram, Facebook and Twitter there are images of friends, celebrities and strangers who we compare ourselves to. It’s a natural born instinct, but it can definitely be prevented. Now I’m not saying to ignore all of your attractive friend’s requests on social media, but if the images of a celebrity’s seemingly “perfect” body are putting you down than UNFOLLOW them! It’s not worth making yourself miserable just to goggle at their photo- shopped life. Honestly, everyone’s life on social media is photo-shopped. They’re showing you the pictures where they feel confident, happy and excited. And there’s nothing wrong with that, just don’t read into it too much. Everyone has their bad days, whether you’re me or a Victoria’s Secret model. Most of the time it’s best to put your phone down and go focus on your life and how you can be happy rather than waste time being jealous, because it’s not worth it.
So I guess the moral of the story is, stop looking in the mirror so much, because there’s a good chance it will make you focus on the outside rather than the inside. My life turned around this year when I decided to make my own decisions on whom and what I wanted in my life. And while I am in no way 100% secure about the way I look all the time, not once has stressing or worrying about my appearance gotten me to a better place in my confidence.
(P.S. I am citing my sources for the pictures because I am a nerd :))