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: http://sophieologie.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/strong-is-the-new-skinny/
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.