Welcome To The Bitchery

Fitspiration, "strong girls," and so on (TW: body image)

I nabbed a photo from this article, which is also good:

I have a few friends on Instagram who have devolved into nonstop posting of themselves liftin’ heavy, or flexing, or their paleo “food prep,” or whatever it is. They are prepping for this “figure competitor” stuff. It has been bugging me for ages. It was bugging me when I was actually lifting myself. I’m going to try to put my finger on why it bothers me so much.


Part of it is, sure, ok, fine, pure jealousy. I simply cannot lift weights anymore and have given up working on a pullup. It is too hard on my joints, which all hurt. Even if I wanted to push past the pain, which I do after all, I now have to do yoga to prevent back pain. So, between yoga, running (sorry bros I still think cardio is more important), and rock climbing, there’s no time. I wanted to do a pullup so bad. I want to be able to lift more than 20 lbs over my head. Yes, I’m jealous they can do it and I can’t. But I’ve clearly shoved it down my priority list, so that’s on me.

But what truly bothers me is the emphasis on appearance. One of them started out doing Crossfit and for a while was just posting things like “deadlifted 250 lbs today woo!” This inspired me to do Crossfit until I had to quit. I certainly never got to 250 lbs. There’s that jealousy again. But now it’s all about her figure competition stuff and the muscle definition and how hard it is to carb cycle but it’s so worth it you guys! Look at my abs!

It’s part of this whole “strong is the new sexy” nonsense. Here’s an incredibly strong woman:


I’m just going to quote from the linked article here because that guy says it so well:

And you’re not going to find her in a Nike ad, even though she’s a stone-cold badass who probably deadlifts the combined body weight of those other three ladies as a goddamn warm up.


Now, before I get bombarded with angry comments from skinny people, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being skinny. I’m also not suggesting that being skinny and strong are mutually exclusive. I’m only pointing out that strength only sells when it’s sexy—and, make no mistake, advertisers want very badly to make you feel like you are currently failing at both.

Strong isn’t really replacing skinny; being skinny is no longer enough. Now, ladies, you need to be skinny and ripped. It’s an additional layer of self-loathing (perfectly suited for hypergymnasiacs), just in case people had started to get desensitized to the omnipresent and psychologically crippling display of corpse-thin women in the media.


My Instagram pals have clearly made it this huge hobby/life’s mission to look a certain way in addition to gaining strength. It’s not my place to armchair psychoanalyze whether they’re healthy about this or not. It seems to make them happy. But while I feel fairly basic envy about the 250 lb deadlift, their focus on appearance makes me feel totally inadequate all around and I don’t want to feel that way.

And these figure competitions. The figure competitions! It’s not about strength, it’s about appearance. And that just bothers me beyond everything. Strength is awesome. But I hate the focus on appearance surpassing the focus on strength because we’re all so bombarded with the idea that appearance is important above all. Sure, she’s strong, but does she look hot? Ugh.


Off my Instagram they go.

Share This Story