Actually, a plus size woman’s worth SHOULD depend on her weight.
There are different kinds of weight that a woman can use to measure her self-worth and self-confidence.
Though it’s important to discuss what a “healthy” weight is with one’s doctor, let’s put the weight of a full-figured woman’s body aside for a moment, and look at a different kind of poundage:
• The weight of the barbell she’s lifting over her head
• The weight of the barbell she’s pulling off the floor
Yes, that’s right. A plus size woman’s self-confidence and self-worth will soar far faster and higher when she pays more attention to the amount of weight she can lift, rather than to how many images of herself in a bikini she’s posted to Instagram.
And if Alicia still hasn’t mustered the “confidence” to even buy a bikini, but revels in her favorite bopo influencer’s latest image of herself showing off her 27th bikini —
— then Alicia needs to leap off that bandwagon and hop on the one headed for the gym.
Barbell Positivity vs. Bikini Positivity
Posing in a bikini for “body positivity” shows people what you look like — which sends the message that a woman’s looks are the most important thing.
But lifting heavy barbells shows people what a woman’s body CAN DO, and a strong woman projects the ability to set goals, work hard and push one’s limits. Wearing a bikini can’t do any of that.
“I think weight training with heavy weights is so essential,” says Ogechi Akalegbere, 31 (as of 2019), a plus-size competitive powerlifter since 2013.
“Your mind sees that huge obstacle and you have to turn off the parts of you that say, ‘This is too heavy or this weight won’t come off the ground,’ and just do it.
“And slowly but surely, you are stronger than you imagined you were when you started.
“For me, lifting — especially with a barbell — is a therapeutic release. I am carrying around plates and [placing] them onto the bar.
“I’m releasing the tensions and stresses of the day. I may have had the worst day, but at least I can say I moved around hundreds of pounds.”
As a former personal trainer and lifelong fitness enthusiast – for the life of me – I just cannot imagine how a plus size woman could hate her body if that body is able to push 100 pounds into the air.
Strength Training for Heavy Women
Many plus size women indeed strength train. But many also do not strength train in a way that turns self-loathing to self-worth.
My motto is: “It’s difficult to hate your body with disgust when it can lift heavy barbells.”
Sure, if you stick with the 30 pound barbell for your deadlifts, this won’t do much to boost self-confidence.
But if you focus on progression over time — you can be picking 100 pounds off the floor in no time.
Come on, think about it: How could you feel disgusted with your body if you just pushed 85 pounds over your head – especially when four months ago you were only able to push 35 pounds?
As a full-figured woman, perhaps you struggle with jogging or step classes.
But the ability to lift heavy loads does not require sustained aerobics.
When you can put 85 pounds over your head, or pull 200 pounds off the floor to your hips, or squat with 135 pounds across your back – by golly, you can’t help but base your self-worth on your weight – the amount of weight you’re lifting!
The Size Factor
When I was a personal trainer, one of the things I’d hear from numerous plus size clients was fear of how they’d look when working out.
I assured them that I would not be having them do nutty routines like attempting pushups with one leg sticking in the air, or hopping on one leg while curling dumbbells.
I’d have them standing in one spot, both feet on the floor, for the deadlift and squat; and lying on a bench for the bench press.
- No embarrassing positions
- No jumping
- No difficult balancing
A very large woman is on an even-playing field with thinner women for these powerlifting moves.
In fact, she may have an advantage due to her size, with that old adage, “Mass moves mass.”
However, multiple factors other than how much you weigh go into developing impressive strength.
This is why there are size 8 women who can lift hundreds of pounds.
Nevertheless, a plus size woman can learn powerlifting as well as any smaller woman.
As a large woman sees progress in the amount of weight she’s lifting, her body positivity and self-love will also increase.
Her bikinis will end up collecting dust — the mere props they are.
Your self-worth will grow as the barbell weight goes up. It’s really that simple.
Ogechi Akalegbere has a blog, gechmeifyoucan.com, and a YouTube channel, where she chronicles her training and other passions. Ogechi has an apparel business, Adaeze Designs: creating clothing that inspires.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.