Friday, March 11, 2011

Reflecting back on International Women's Day, from a training perspective

Allyson's kewl. There's just no other way to put it. She put up with my phallic Shake-Weight jokes and is always there to make sure I don't blow my vertebrae up in the air while doing upright rows. Another thing that makes her kewl is this article that she wrote last year for Sally's Synopsisum for Women's Day (Oh, and Sally's kewl too!). She reposted it on Facebook the other day for International Women's Day, 2011 and it got me thinking again...

Well, that wasn't the only thing that got me thinking. While probably not planned, it still coincided with an article from Wild Gorillaman. Like Allyson, Gorilla and others, I'm a big fan of the ladies that do real strength training. I don't view it as a man's thing and I'm (just barely) smart enough about training to know that the whole, "heavy weight lifting makes women bulky , manly, and ugly," is the zombie-like myth of the physical culture world: It's a blood-spewing, puss-covered thing that just won't die!

As a quick refresher as to why that's false, I'll spell it out yet again. To get huge muscles, someone has to eat large quantities of the right food along with some very intense strength training. By large quantities, I mean doubling, or even tripling, your caloric intake, most likely into and beyond the 3,000 calorie per day range. FOR. MONTHS. ON .END. Even if a women did that, it's still very hard to reach man-bulk territory without anabolic steroids. So, it's not just a simple matter of picking up a weight that approaches the triple-digit poundage. It's a complete lifestyle overhaul!

So, is that it? Do we just need to tell the scared gym gals that paragraph I just wrote? End of blog entry?

If that was all that there was to it, then I would have ceased typing by now. I see something else going on though. I still see a problem. This is the article that The Ape-Man wrote. The first two paragraphs really deserve repeating:

Today's Update is spite-fueled, and inspired by The Gorilla's trip through the supermarket checkout last night, where he was confronted by a celebrity gossip magazine with a sickening picture of Gwyneth Paltrow in a bikini on the cover. Thirty seconds of Googling didn't dig up the exact picture, but take The Gorilla's word for it, it was substantially ickier than this one from TMZ.

Ladies, aside from the fact that no one in the real world that you're trying to impress is attracted to or impressed by such an appearance the reality is that, contrary to what fad trainers like Tracy Anderson who are cashing in on their 15 minutes will tell you, going after that look doesn't require training a certain way or eating a certain diet. If you want to look that way, just have sex in exchange for heroin and don't eat anything at all. That would be cheaper and less time consuming.

The last line may have a touch too much coarseness but it got my wheels turning: how much drug addicts have influenced what is considered attractive in women. Yes, I'm being serious. At the tail-end of the Victorian Period, the ashen-white skin complexion and heavily-dilated pupils were considered highly attractive. That would explain why prostitution was so popular back then: most soiled doves were drug addicts. Things haven't changed too much, unfortunately. We all know that too many models are the products of a champagne and cocaine diet.

If you read Allyson's article thoroughly, you'd have come across a link containing some information that indicated that women would rather too fat than too muscular. Unlike the origins of the waifish look, I don't need to explain how to make a woman fat.So, the problem that I see with all of this is that we (men AND women) still strive for aesthetic standards that discourages women from any kind of meaningful movements. A woman could look drugged-out skinny or cupcake-"curvy", or anything in the middle, as long as they don't look like they are physically capable of doing, well, anything really.

Now, on a day were women worldwide celebrated the notion of equality, that kind of thinking about the feminine physique is troubling. Those of us who sacrifice sweat at the altar of getting strong know that strength is ultimately about ability. We find out that the stronger that we get, the more capable we feel and better off our lives are. It's easy to understand why women 140 or so years ago weren't encouraged to look physically strong: it was a sign that they worked, and that usually wasn't fashionable. Some of the looks contorted and modified the body to the point where they couldn't do much of anything. That was the point! Probably the most disturbing example of I'm talking about above!

In a world were we're supposed to accept that women are capable and able, why do we only find them good looking if they drain themselves of any obvious signs of either?

No, I'm not talking' about women having big biceps and back muscles here. Many of us know that the those aren't really good signs of strength anyway. How about training that gives someone good, strong posture? Or, doing some upper body exercises that get rid of the all-too-common winged scapula? Perhaps even the ability to squat down, below parallel, to pick something (or someone) off the ground without serious effort?

Wait, this is starting to sound like promoting healthy bodies. Maybe there's a reason for that. Maybe that's what we should be doing to begin with here: promoting real strength training for real health for the sake of being able to do real-life movement. Then, after we've got that mastered, maybe we can all learn to appreciate a healthy, strong body and learn to find it desirable, maybe even attractive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Women don't have to look sweaty and unfeminine in the gym any more - Reebok took care of that with their magic trainers. ;-)