I see this everywhere, on Facebook, Instagram (and I don’t even have Instagram), web “news” sites and fitness magazines. I HATE this phrase, it gives me the same feeling as nails on a chalkboard. It actually makes me angry…very angry. Why does such an innocuous seeming phrase cause such a violent reaction, one might ask. Well asked or not it is a question I am answering.
I will start with the caveat that I consider myself to be both strong and skinny, so I understand that many of you might consider my hatred of this statement and may I dare say movement somewhat ironic. But my skinniness is partly the cause of my virulent reaction. Most of my life I have been referred to as “skinny” and not in a kind or complimentary fashion. It has always been a word that raised my ire. While it has often been denoted as a desirable state, the reality is that it is generally used in a derogatory and insulting manner. Let’s not pretend that “skinny” is actually a compliment, or sexy or a desirable state. Herein lies my first complaint.
Next we come to the true crux of the issue…the strong part. The saying makes it sound like strong is so much easier than skinny (and better of course because skinny is not actually a good thing…see above). Whoever thinks that, implies that or buys that; has never achieved the pictured state of strong that accompanies this phrase. The pictures that typically denote this statement show competition lean women who have worked harder on their diet and exercise than I have ever worked on anything in my entire life!! Not to mention this type of strong typically has a body fat percentage that is far below the average “skinny” girl. This is not an easy feat to achieve by any stretch of the imagination and my proverbial hat goes off to everyone who has achieved it.
Therein lies yet another of my peeves with this phrase. This lean strong muscular look, while amazing is not typically a healthy lifestyle to maintain long term. Having a low body fat percentage may look amazing but below 18% it is not particularly healthy and this lifestyle does not come with balance; it is an all-in only lifestyle. It requires intense dietary restrictions and extreme dedication to the gym. There will be no wine and ice cream on Saturday night or the odd pizza on the weekend, and forget about drinks with the girls. None of those things are allowed. Now this may be my age speaking, because I have reached that magic sweet spot in life. That spot when you suddenly don’t give a f#@k about the little s*#t and the big picture starts to take on a whole new meaning.
I want balance, and by balance I mean I want to drink wine, eat the occasional dessert and not count calories when I am out for dinner with friends. I want to enjoy my cheese and crackers and eat my cake too….guilt free. I don’t give a flying f@#k that I don’t have a six pack…ok I actually do miss my six pack, but I don’t care enough to even contemplate trying to get it back. I do care deeply about my health and well being, spiritually and physically. I eat well most of the time, I stay active and exercise regularly and I commit to watching all my important numbers, you know the ones that actually affect my well being; my blood pressure, my heart resting heart rate, my cholesterol levels. Strong is beautiful, absolutely…but it is not the new skinny and nor should it be. Strong doesn’t have to be lean or perfect or a specific size. Strong comes in all shapes and sizes and most importantly it starts inside your head, not in the shape of your body. Let’s make this conversation about how we can be strong, beautiful and healthy inside and out and leave the body image bullsh#* at the door, where it belongs. Let’s change the phrase and how we judge ourselves, all together now say it with me…”I am the new beautiful”. Now let’s start believing it!