In case you weren't keeping track, muscles are back in, and model bodies are out. "Strong is the new skinny," according to a Washington Post article that pretty much confirms Nicki Minaj's "fuck skinny bitches" line from "Anaconda."
Our fitness tale begins with the anecdote of CrossFit enthusiast Kristin Rance, a 30-year-old mom whose objective to gain muscle definition seems to be representative of a larger trend among women.
The Post writes:
Forget craving runway models' stick-thin figures: Women now want Michelle Obama's arms, Jillian Michaels's abs and Lolo Jones's legs. Today, says VIDA general manager Nancy Burnham, who models in the gym's promotional materials, "having a strong body and a positive body image is cool."
Over the past few years, women like Rance have been embracing the message that "strong is the new skinny" — that a body of muscle is better than a body of bones.
Are you a woman? Well, that's what you want. I doubt this is a new nationwide trend, but according to the Post, even gyms — whose job is to market to people who want to work out — are increasingly marketing to the new generation of novice body builders.
There's a but:
But women's health experts worry that the trend isn't as positive as it seems because the focus is still on women's appearance, not achievements. Equally discouraging, they say, is evidence that women are no more satisfied with their bodies today than in decades past.
Well, yes and always, until the end of time, unrealistic goals will be the case and perfection is impossible. Don't some women want one thing (to define muscle) and other women want another thing (to slim down)?
I'd even go out on a limb and say that some women want both. Psychologist Rachel Calogero thinks we're witnessing a completely new phenomenon that never existed: Women who want it all. Calogero says:
"What we've seen over the past several decades is something that we haven't seen before: Women are reporting not only dissatisfaction with their weight but dissatisfaction with the amount of muscle on their body."
The fitness spike among women correlates with another trend piece by the New York Times that points to America's obsession with extreme fitness. Everyone is turning into a raging bodybuilder and only the Lunk Alarm from Planet Fitness can solve this.
The Times reports that CrossFit is a culprit:
CrossFitters represent just one wave of a fitness sea change, in which well-to-do Americans abandon easy, convenient forms of exercise in favor of workouts grueling enough to resemble a kind of physical atonement. For the most privileged among us, freedom seems to feel oppressive, and oppression feels like freedom. There's also a very American fixation on extremes at play: More is always better.
The takeaway is that Americans are working out a lot, maybe too much, especially women and especially kids.
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