This post is modified from a post of mine in a bodybuilding forum, in which the topic of discussion was guys having negative attitudes towards muscular women. As tends to happen in such discussions, the members quickly divulged into issues of:
- What kind of body is culturally beneficial to have
- Men not liking muscular women because we're insecure
With a couple modifications, here's what I had to say.
A thin girl doesn't open up a magazine and find edification, she opens up a magazine and is told that she's not pretty enough, she's not thin enough, she's not fancy enough, she's not sexy enough...and if she just makes herself a little bit more [insert adjective here], then she can enjoy being confident and socially acceptable, yet somehow that little bit more is never enough, and there's always one little bit more to go: there's an infinite distance between 99 and 100. The promise of a prize is presented just outside of arm's reach, and yet no matter how much she grasps at it and clings to it, no matter what she does to grab hold of it, no matter how many steps she takes to get close enough, it's unobtainable. Of course, we all buy into the belief that it is obtainable and that thin girls everywhere have obtained it, which I think is why we typically think (wrongly) that's okay to shame these girls.
The first slide has often been used to shame skinny girls.
I like what they did with the following three slides
to shame said shaming.
What is the marketing strategy for 90% of the fitness industry? Is it that fitness will make you strong and physically functional? Is it that fitness will enhance your abilities for sport? Is it that fitness will make you live longer and reduce the risk of chronic, terminal illness? Is it that fitness will give you more freedom and independence? Is it that achieving PB's will give you a sense of accomplishment, and that the endorphins released while training will make you feel good? Is it that fitness will help you sleep and give you more vitality? Or is it that you should go to the gym and drink protein shakes in order to look sexy and attract as many potential spouses as possible? I think 90% of fitness industry marketing is that last part. And how many people actually go to the gym for primarily aesthetic/cosmetic reasons? If your hair still has natural colour in it, there's a very high chance that that's all you're there for. So, if most people assume that training is for aesthetics, and if most people assume that everyone has the same aesthetic goals as each other (which is generally true, although there are a large minority of exceptions), then from their generalised POV, if you're more muscular than is conventionally desired in a woman, you're doing it wrong. "Silly bodybuilders, don't you know that you're giving me a DErection? I know your goal is for me to fall in love with you upon first glance, so why are you making yourself not fit my standards of beauty?" Seriously, most people think that working out is all about making other people want to have secks with you. The fact that most discussions and articles about women lifting pander to the imagined target audience's fear of not being conventionally attractive anymore (by becoming "bulky") demonstrates that at some level even we think like this, and if we think like this, how can we expect others to think differently?
See what I mean?
To those who are saying that because it's often guys who don't lift who find female lifters unattractive, these guys must be insecure... Insecurity may be a factor, but I think it's more a matter of conditioning. Sexual attraction is very socially conditioned. When I was 17, I thought Adriana Lima and Miranda Kerr were the sexiest, most beautiful women on the planet, and I thought Jamie Eason was huge, buff and looked like a man with make-up and tissues in his bra. I don't think that was me being insecure and intimidated by Jamie Eason, it's just that I wasn't used to seeing many guys more muscular than her, and I was used to seeing girls less muscular than her, and these Victoria's Secret models were always presented as the standard of beauty. That's not to say that my standards of beauty were ever perfectly aligned with the standards of beauty of the guy sitting next to me -- there's always some nuance. Now I find Adriana Lima and Miranda Kerr attractive mostly just from the boobs up. Significant upper body muscle mass on a woman doesn't do much for me, and past a certain point (a point which can be achieved quite naturally) it becomes more of a visual deterrent than lure, but a woman would certainly have to try if she wanted more lower body muscle mass than I find attractive. This, too, is conditioning, from years of engagement in strength communities. I don't think I'm intimidated by more muscular females (although I'm yet to meet any females who are more muscular than I currently am), however there is definitely a grey area in which more muscle stops being more attractive, and a point at which more muscle rapidly becomes less attractive to me. Then again, I don't hate on muscular women (beyond the level of muscularity that I like), I just don't say anything (this wasn't always the case). If I find you attractive and want you to know that I find you attractive, I'll let you know. If I don't find you attractive...well, I don't go out of my way to inform guys that I'm not attracted to them, so why go out of my way to inform women that I'm not attracted to them? I can think of very few circumstances in which that would be a beneficial, productive use of my vocabulary. If I were in a relationship, there's only one person who I'd care about being attractive to, and if someone who I'm not in a relationship with is not going out of her way to personally be as attractive as possible to me, then obviously me finding her attractive is not high on her agenda, so what reason do I have to waste time and energy thinking about how much I don't find her attractive, letting her know that I'm not attracted to her, or judging her for not being attractive to me?