Strong is the New Skinny

May 26, 2015

Categories: Body Image

It’s an exciting time to be involved in CrossFit. We are in the middle of our competitive season, where the best of the best compete in various regions for the right to participate in the CrossFit Games, which is held each summer. It’s like the Olympic games of fitness.

If you get a chance to watch a regional CrossFit competition, you will see incredible feats of strength, speed, and endurance. I’ve struggled through quite a few of the workouts myself, and every time I watch I’m amazed at how fast and effortless the athletes appear to be during the workouts.

You will also see a huge number of incredibly strong and lean physiques. It’s like the opposite of a bowling alley.

Women involved in CrossFit have been on the forefront of advocating strong, healthy bodies as the goal to strive for, rather than the ultra-skinny fashion model ideal of years past. ‘Strong is the New Skinny’ has become a trademark you can see plastered on T-shirts everywhere.

On one hand, I think this is a positive development. I think encouraging strong, active bodies is a better alternative than encouraging women to strive for an ultra-skinny ideal that might result in a very low body mass index considered unhealthy by medical standards.

On the other hand, I worry that putting incredibly strong and chiseled bodies on a pedestal might be a different form of the same problem—as a society we present a body ideal for women that is difficult (and perhaps impossible) for most women to achieve. The standard is just too unrealistic, which might lead the majority of women to feel unhappy with their bodies.

I’m all for promoting health and fitness, but let’s be careful not to replace one unrealistic standard with another unrealistic standard.

Discussion: What do you think about the new ‘stronger’ standards for the female body as seen in the health and fitness industry? Do you see this as a healthy development, or more of the same?


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