Where are the muscular women in the body positive movement? All we see are overweight, sometimes obese women, many appearing as though they never work out.
The body positive movement has excluded muscular women, creating the illusion that there’s a single continuum that begins with the bone thin or “anorexic” body and ends with the very obese body and everything in between.
On this continuum the dress size begins at zero and goes well past 26. There’s a glorification of bodies that are so overweight that mobility is impaired.
The body positive movement encourages overweight and obese women to love their bodies just as they are, rather than work them at the gym to get fitter and more toned (dare I say muscular?)
One particular woman who’s part of the body positive movement encourages fat and overweight women to post their bikini pictures on her Facebook page.
She encourages women to celebrate their plus-size body; there is no mention of muscles or replacing jiggly legs with sculpted strong legs.
Where are the muscular women in their bikinis, the ones built like Serena Williams and Ronda Rousy? I name these two athletes because nearly everyone knows what they look like.
But there are many other women out there with stunning muscle development, ranging from physique contest competitors to CrossFit enthusiasts to competitive rowers or powerlifters to just your local gym rat who loves the look of muscles and wants to have a lot of body strength.
I wonder how many obese body positive promoters just went “Ughhh” upon viewing the bodybuilder above. (Note: I don’t know if she uses steroids, but I am 100 percent AGAINST steroid use.)
Where do muscular women (who often, but not always, have small waistlines) fit in on the continuum that’s been defined by the body positive movement?
“The ‘body positive movement’ focuses on women’s body sizes who have traditionally been marginalized in our society, such as those who are overweight,” explains Linda Centeno, PhD, clinical psychologist, and assistant director of the Koch Center in NJ that specializes in eating disorder treatment.
She continues, “Muscular women are not marginalized in the same way and, in fact, there has been a shift over the last 20 years, with sports companies (like Nike) marketing the concept that it is cool (and attractive) to be a strong female athlete. It would be ideal if our culture respected and welcomed all body types.”
When a woman is muscled, this look is also referred to as buff or ripped, and it, too, is on a continuum:
At one end we have toned (and she may be “thin,” medium or a bit compact or stocky at the same time).
And then as we glide along on the continuum, her muscle development gets progressively more pronounced or developed.
At the other end, then, we have a so-called muscle-bound woman, the kind you see in professional bodybuilding competitions. They can get away with using performance enhancing drugs at these events because there is no drug testing.
It’s only the “natural” bodybuilding competitions that do drug testing.
Body positive promoters think in a one-dimensional fashion: A woman is either skinny, fat or somewhere in between (slender, medium, plump, pudgy, chubby, husky).
Where are the muscles in all of this?
Why is overweight seemingly the alternative to being skinny?
Many women will take a muscled physique any day over a thin weak one and definitely over an overweight slow one – as long as performance enhancing drugs aren’t involved.
It’s a myth that being “too muscular” is unhealthy. There is no medical condition that’s caused by well-developed muscles.
The chronic medical ailments that affect the U.S. in epidemic numbers are as follows:
• Heart disease, heart attack
• High blood pressure
• Diabetes (type 2)
• Osteoarthritis (requiring knee and hip replacements)
• Osteoporosis (huge risk factor for bone fractures, causes hump back)
• Liver disease
• Congestive heart failure
• Heart valve degeneration
• Venous insufficiency
• Acid reflux disease
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Spinal stenosis
Weightlifting, bodybuilding and having pronounced muscle development are not risk factors for any of these conditions, nor for any other chronic medical condition such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, thyroid issues or inflammatory bowel disease.
A muscular body is also not a risk factor for developing pneumonia, the flu, sepsis or some other acute condition such as a deep vein thrombosis or the often fatal pulmonary embolism.
Having muscles also does not increase the risk of post-operative complications should that person ever undergo surgery.
We should see muscular women in all of those photos of women who are part of the body positive movement campaign. Muscularity should be encouraged! Why settle for excess fat, which is so unhealthy?