By Victoria Dubuis
Growing up, I was told the same patriarchal bullshit a majority of us females were plagued with- skinny is better, strong cheekbones are the only thing you should strive for, do your cardio, girls!
Then came the era of thigh-gaps and those goddamn Tumlbr ~*~*pale blogs*~*~ which only seemed to make it worse. Now, I’m not trying to talk shit on skinny girls here, by any means, but for years on end (and to this day!), curvy women, women with muscle, women who were slightly non-traditional were portrayed as less-than. Then the Kardashians came into play. Yes, yes, the Kardashians are problematic with about 99% of the shit they do and stand for (although, if I had that money, you can bet your sweet ass I’d be living as lavishly as Kylie), but I remember as a teenager seeing articles about how men thought Kim’s curves were beautiful and feeling an indescribable sense of relief.
I think the big butt phenomenon took place in 2015, right? Nicki blew us all away with Anaconda, all of the Kardashians started getting implants, and all of the sudden, I found myself more and more thankful that maybe, just maybe, unattainable (for a majority of us, at least) thigh gaps might be in the past. Then 2016 came and I got into weight lifting, and I remember people thinking it was strange. My reason to go into it wasn’t to get a butt (I was just going through a tough time and needed an outlet to be real with ya’ll), but with lifting heavy, I attained a butt, arm muscles (ya!), and not only physically strength, but a shit-ton of mental strength. My experiences at the gym have mainly been great (shout-out to 24 Hour Fitness in Joplin, which is by far, the best gym on the entire planet earth, come @ me, I dare you), but going to the gym regularly has opened my eyes to how society treats women in regards to their workout regimens… and this, has been disappointing to say the least.
During a traditional visit to a local gym, one might notice a trend: the men are lifting, the women are doing cardio. Now, let me preface by saying that I am 100% for people doing whatever they enjoy so long as they are not hurting themselves, but in my almost full year of lifting weights regularly, I have noticed my previous statement to be almost completely true. I can’t help but attribute it to society’s view on what women should look like.
Cardio is good for your heart and it’s good for weight loss – we know this to be true – but the benefits of lifting weights are there as well. So why aren’t women encouraged to lift heavy things and put them back down just as much as men do? Or at least in the same fashion in which they are encouraged or preset to do their daily cardio? In my opinion, the stereotype that women mainly focus on cardio mostly likely comes from socializing women to want to be thin as opposed to focusing it on being strong and healthy.
You can see this socialization on TV and in magazines as well. The women’s fitness magazines are almost always focused on losing weight whereas the men’s magazines and televisions ads are focused on building mass or getting strong. Is this to say that women can or shouldn’t be strong as well?
**Disclaimer though- Women’s Health has banned body-shaming phrases from its covers, which is hella dope***
Needless to say, if cardio is where your heart is (no pun intended), then by all means, keep running those miles, girl! But for those of us who don’t necessarily enjoy it or want something else, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate what we want when it comes to our personal, physical health. Take a minute and think to yourself “am I truly doing this for my health, or am I doing this because of my society’s fixation as to what my body should look like?” And as long as our end goals are directed towards our personal well-being and happiness and not on what this predominately male-controlled society wants from us, then I think we’re on the right track!
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