The Feminine Standard
The Misconceptions & Mistreatment of Fit Women
Everyone is self-conscious about the way they look. Even those with the best bodies among us have parts of their bodies they wish to improve upon. While men experience this just as women do, it is safe to say that women experience this insecurity about their body tenfold that of a man. This insecurity isn’t something that women are born with of course, but rather something that is ingrained in them throughout their lives.
I know what you are thinking… You’re thinking that a man has no place talking about the female perspective and what women should look like. This may be true, but as a full time physique coach and being married to a female competitor, I think I have a unique perspective on how fit women view their bodies and the issues they must deal put up with on a daily basis. Many of them tell me things that they wouldn’t even tell their closest friends and families. So please hear me out.
As a physique coach there is nothing I look forward to more than having a client train hard, follow their nutritional plan, and get the body that they want, and then being able to put up their picture on Facebook, Instagram, or a forum to recognize their hard work. If it is a male client whose picture I am putting up I am able to post the picture and then go on with my day and come back several hours later to find dozens of nice comments about my client from people appreciating his body and hard work. If I am putting up a picture of a female client then it is a different story. When I post the picture I must then babysit it for the next several hours. Most of the comments are positive and encouraging, however inevitably someone will chime in with some extremely insulting comments. Usually it is someone saying that she looks “manly”, “so skinny she looks sick” or sometimes they just say “gross”. This happens EVERY TIME I put of a picture of a female client and frankly, I’m sick of it. So below are five points that all of us should take into consideration about fit women.
They Are Just As Insecure As Everyone Else
If there is one thing that really blows my mind about this situation, it is the double standard that takes place with how we approach fit women. If an overweight woman posts a picture of herself on her Facebook page most likely nobody will post “gross” or “you look fat”, as well they should NOT! After all, it is nobody’s business how this person chooses to look. However for some reason it seems far more socially acceptable to post terrible comments on the picture of a woman or girl that is in shape. I am not sure of the exact reason for this, but I suspect that there is an underlying feeling that these girls can take it. Well I have news for you, I have worked with hundreds of women across the country that range from the very obese to top level competitors and I can tell you that the average female competitor is every bit as insecure about the way she looks as the average obese female.
When someone makes a nasty comment about a fit female, it hurts them just as it would anyone else, they are not indestructible and they have feelings. In fact, many women get into this sport in the first place after having been overweight at some point in their life, working off the baby weight, or to try and conquer their own food struggles. So when you see a girl that looks like everything comes easy to her, it doesn’t mean it has. She has the same insecurities as you do, and she is still a human being.
They Are Not As “Big & Muscular” As They Seem
Most people look at the picture they see of these fit women online and think they look huge, especially if the woman is a competitor and it is a picture of them on stage. I have people estimate that some of my female clients must weigh 80-90kg! This actually couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, most of the female competitors I work with step on stage between 45-60kg. They are actually quite tiny compared to the average woman.
There are many things that people do to make themselves seem leaner and more muscular than what they are. The way they pose, the lighting, the tan, and the flexing all create an illusion of being very big and very muscular. If you saw most of these women walking down the street in a t-shirt you wouldn’t even look at them twice.
They Don’t Think They Are Better Than You
The thing that really makes me sad when I read these mean-spirited comments is to see how many of them are actually written by women. If there is anyone that should truly understand how a woman feels about her looks and how sensitive she can be on the subject, it should be other women. Unfortunately there are still many that feel the need to make a rude comment with the intent for the girl to see it.
There is always this perception by many that a girl who is in shape thinks she is better than everyone else or somehow she is above others. I sometimes feel these comments are an attempt by some to take someone down a peg or two, as if they need to be put in their place for all the positive attention they are receiving. The "Tall Poppy Syndrome" as it is sometimes called.
Do some people have a superiority complex because they are in shape? Sure. Some people also feel they are better than others because the car they drive or the house they live in. There is a word for these people, they are called jerks. However not every person that is in shape is a jerk and most of them do not need to be taken down a peg or two. When people post a picture of themselves because they are in shape it is rarely to rub it in someone else’s face but rather to show their hard work. Just as many post their accomplishments onto social media sites, these women post their accomplishments too. It just so happens that their accomplishment is their physique.
They Don’t Look Like This All The Time
The look that most of these fit women attain when in competition shape is not the way they look all year round. To get into competition shape takes months of training and dieting and usually this look is only held for a few weeks before a competition. The rest of the year these women walk around at a fairly normal, healthy body fat percentage. You probably wouldn’t even recognize them when they are not a few weeks out from competition because they look like an average woman. When you see a picture of girl online that is absolutely ripped to shreds it is more than likely that is not the way she is walking around 365 days a year.
If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say… (Don’t Say Anything At All)
I can’t control how you feel about fit women. If you feel they don’t look feminine or think they look too skinny then that is your opinion and maybe I can’t change that. However, I think something can be said for keeping it to yourself. As I said before, you don’t go around telling every overweight woman that they are fat so why should you go around telling every fit woman they are gross simply because they don’t meet your standard of what femininity should be. That is not for you to determine and most importantly how someone chooses to look is none of your business.
At the end of the day I don’t know each person’s individual reason for making negative comments. I also can’t stop anyone from making these comments. However, if you are a person that still feels compelled to pick on fit women, overweight women, or anyone for that matter, simply because you can, then you are so lacking in character that it doesn’t matter how the person looks because they are probably a hell of a lot better person than you.
Cliff Wilson (Bodybuilding & Physique Coach)