Finally, a sensible article about women’s bodies (and no, I had never heard the 1200 calorie “rule” either). Here is the controversial summary:
Women should be shown the same fitness routines as men. We should be exposed to the same messages of eating nutritious food, with lots ‘o protein, and enough calories to build our bodies into goddess-like proportions. We should not fear muscle. We should not shy away from the weight room because it is perceived as “odd” and out of place when a woman approaches the squat rack.
I like muscle: I’m a climber. I want to be strong. I want to be able to do things. I want to have a physical meaning not only a physical identity. To me, this is how you marry the mind and the body: through action. I want to act.
But I am always being told that muscle is disgusting on women, and unattractive. Mostly by other women or the media.
Unhealthy messages about women’s health can affect everybody – and in different ways. For years, I have struggled with the fear of looking like I eat too much (greedy) or too little (anorexic). It didn’t help that when I was thirteen, a friend told me I had the right psychological profile for people prone to eating disorders. Eating disorders became a thing I could be *accused* of and would have to defend against if I wanted to maintain control over what I ate. At the same time, I had to remain healthy-looking and leave food on my plate to remain feminine and not be seen as greedy (much more upsetting to me than being seen as fat) – or have other people take control, even in as simple ways as advising what I should or shouldn’t eat, or trying to get me to join in their diets.
In short, I wanted to be able to eat without fear.
Over the years, I have built on my exercise regimes and developed commitments to sports which “prove” I go beyond exercising to lose weight (e.g. climbing instructing). I have developed an interest in food, nutrition and cooking that “proves” I am genuinely interested in food and not just a glutton lacking self-control. Of course, my interests are for their own sake, but it doesn’t stop me racking up “proofs” in the back of my mind.
All this because it is too insane, too unbelievable and too fragile just to say that what I really want is to be fit, strong and healthy.
This distorted reality.