Forget the waif and lift the weights. In case you haven’t heard, skinny is out and strong is in. No more striving to a low, and often unhealthy weight, but to a physique that is strong and healthy. With celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian embracing their athletic, curvy bodies, and recent international bans by several countries on too-thin models and excessive Photoshop, skinny is so yesterday, strong and healthy is the latest ‘thing’.
What does it mean to feel strong? Is it more than just a physical feeling of being able to lift 100 pounds? Strong can mean many things to many different people, but for the purposes of this article, we will define it as a feeling that you are physically the best that you can be. Forget ‘skinny’ – if you want to look your best, you’re going to want to start by feeling your best, and that’s not necessarily going to mean striving to be the thinnest you can be.
Despite what the fashion world may tell us, a size 2 does not the equal beauty. While it’s no secret how dangerously far the push for women to be thin got, the tides are finally changing. Even the fashion capital of the world, France, is hopping on the strength train. The country recently criminalized agencies, websites, and fashion houses that demanded and promoted the use of ultra thin, anorexic models from ad campaigns and runways. In the UK, ads that have been excessively Photoshopped are now banned, and even the slightest Photoshop on an ad requires the advertiser to insert a disclaimer regarding the altering of the image. And fitness companies are hopping on the idea that feminine beauty can be strong – Under Armour’s recent campaign, featuring ballerina Misty Copeland touting her strength as a dancer, was a viral success.
Anorexia and bulimia affects up to 24 million people per year, in the US alone [source: National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders]. Pop culture and the media have been perpetuating this idea that a woman is only attractive, ‘cool’, and desirable if she matches the often ultra thing physical appearance of the models that cover the runways. But most women aren’t going about their daily lives in couture gowns and 5 inch stilettos. We need healthy, strong bodies to support lifestyles involving work, family, and social lives, not to mention hobbies and ‘me’ time.
Don’t aim for skinny, aim for strong. Aim for a body where you feel energized, sexy, confident, and able to hit the day running. Instead of focusing on the scale or your dress size, try to tune into your body and listen to how you feel. This goes both ways – too much weight puts immense pressure on your bones and joints, and you will end up feeling tired and heavy in no time. Too little weight, and you’ll also feel tired, weak, and feeble. So a good measurement key is your level of energy. And when you put on that little black dress, whether its hugging your curves or embracing a petite frame, loving yourself the way you are, in the way you feel healthiest, is the best thing you can do for your emotional and physical well being.