Is Strong Really the New Skinny?

07 Jun

One thing that has caught my attention lately is this new fitness craze sweeping the nation. It’s everywhere! Every social media program that I participate in I find something that refers to fitness. When I scroll through Instagram I find pictures and accounts dedicated to working out, looking strong, and eating well. When I search through Iphone apps I find apps that will help you record the distances you ran, the weights you lifted, and the numbers of calories you ate. On television there’s Crossfit, Insanity, and P90X. It’s crazy! Could looking fit and being strong be the new “skinny”? According to Sophie, it should be. Here’s an article that supports this new craze and why it should be promoted:

According to Sophie, this new craze over “Strong is the new skinny” revolves around the idea that a girl “who is encouraged to be strong instead of skinny will have higher self-esteem, respect, ambitions, and worth. She will never be a victim. She will be healthy. She will be a leader. She will be confident. She will kick ass.” She sees this as a way to deter away from eating disorders by promoting that young girls shouldn’t starve themselves in order to achieve a skinny body; rather, women should aim to concur a fit, muscular, and strong body since it is healthier. However, I think this raises a few problems.

I mostly agree with the article that a healthy lifestyle is ideal, but I do fear that “strong” could become the new “skinny” in a bad way. I can’t help but notice the pictures that are tied to this promotion. Go on Instagram or look in any fitness magazine and everywhere you’ll see fitness models promoting strength who are still SO SKINNY. The women in these pictures seriously have no fat. What does this say to women about beauty? Does it successfully promote this ideal of physical strength and healthiness? What is the difference between striving to be skinny and striving to be strong when most advertisements promote skinny women as being strong?

The lifestyle and image promoted by this new trend reflects the irony of how “today’s fashion magazines may carry an article about the dangers of anorexia while bombarding its readers with images of emaciated young bodies representing the height of beauty and desirability” (Hooks, 34). On one hand you have an intention to promote something healthy and beneficial, while on the other hand you have an image that represents what the notion is fighting against (thinness).

Although Sophie attempts to advocate changing the beauty standard of thinness, she fails to explicitly define what it means to be strong. As Hooks says, “To critique in and of itself does not lead to change. Indeed, much feminist critique of beauty has merely left females confused about what a healthy choice is” (Hooks, 35). Sophie’s critique about how thinness can be detrimental is not enough to ignite a change in the typical beauty standard. She fails to mention how being fit and strong could take form in any type of body. Instead, women are left confused with images promoted by various media communities that represent strong women as being extremely skinny and muscular. She needs to clarify that strength doesn’t just entail lifting weights or working out, that it requires healthy eating habits, and that it can take form in any body type.

Overall, I think this new craze over fitness and a healthy lifestyle can be just as detrimental as striving to be skinny. Although working out can be healthy, I guarantee that some women will continue starve themselves to achieve a “fit” body (I’ve witnessed friends do this). In order to successfully veer away from eating disorders and thinness as the ideal body, an image should not accompany what it means to be “strong.”

Hooks, Bell. Beauty Within and Without.


Posted by on June 7, 2013 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “Is Strong Really the New Skinny?

  1. blueebird

    June 7, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    I’ve begun to notice this around a lot too. At first I was totally excited that society was *attempting* to bring health back into the picture, focusing on strength and healthy eating aside from just ‘dieting’ and being thin. However, I never really thought about how detrimental the photos can be, as you bring up. Perhaps there should be a focus on how ‘cool’ it is to increase your mile time or how many push ups you can do instead of just how you look in work out shorts and a sports bra. How do we healthily promote healthy/fitness as a way to be comfortable in your own skin? Does removing the photos of thin women posing help the issue? I suppose in general we should stop emphasizing women’s bodies in general and find something else to focus on. I do value the new trend of healthy eating, though, rather than just dieting.

  2. xiaodiw

    June 8, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Fitness is the new sexy! I definitely agree with that! I was watching Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show some time ago and I noticed that many of the VS angels actually have 4 packs on their stomach. Wow! I though they are the ideal representations of female bodies? Aren’t they supposed to extremely thin? Well, being thin is not enough anymore, they need to be fit and thin at the same time. I then went online to search for my favorite VS angel: Candice Swanepoel. There was this video called “How Candice Gets A Runway Body” that caught my eye. In this video, Candice talked about how she works out in the gym to make her body look better on the runway.

    I feel that models have always had the ideal, perfect body shape. Though most of us know, subconsciously, that their body shapes are almost unattainable, we still hope that we’ll look like them someday. The impact of these models is tremendous, especially on young girls. I do agree with Brandi, this new crazy trend about girls getting fit is better because it promotes beauty in healthy style. There are always cases when people try to be fit in extreme ways, but we can’t deny getting beautiful in a healthy way is not good.


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