This is mostly for the women on here, but interested to hear from the men, too. I took my three-year old to the Big Apple Circus yesterday. Its mostly acrobats, contortionists, clowns, dancers, etc. The highlights of the show were a troupe of Chinese acrobats that did the most incredible stuff with their bodies. Really amazing feats of strength, flexibility and balance. I tried to get pictures of their bodies, but they didnt some out that well.
The men were all small, compact, very low body fat, long lean defined muscles. They looked like the pictures that John Durant posted a while ago of hawaiian men in 1890- strong, healthy and fast.
But when you follow the jump, and look at the other pictures, the women from the same area and time are quite soft. and The two women in the acrobats troupe were also much softer than the men. they had little muscle definition, and even small pooches in their lower bellies. I would even dare to say that there was some hangover in the muffin-top area.
I would never, EVER say these women were even a pound overweight. They were quite small, and were young, and obviously incredibly strong and powerful. So, as women I just wonder if we are too hard on ourselves, and if we arent supposed to be softer than we might think ourselves at our ideal. Are we striving to fit our female bodies into a male framework? Are we struggling with "those last five pounds" or that last 3% BF or whatever it is in a Sisyphean struggle uphill against a raging tide of hormones? Is what I see so many women striving for any more attainable for many of us than the 90 pound 5'9" waif body type that was so popular in the 1990s? Are we destined to have 6 pack abs that have a layer of softness over them unless we struggle against nature?
asked bybeing (15239)
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on April 30, 2011
at 11:53 PM
I absolutely agree and I have been very vocal about that (and have been criticized for it, but I am fine with it). Men are still seen as the "default" of our species, and if we as women go off what's normal for men it is seen often as a failure. Some women are naturally boyish and skinny, some are naturally very curvy and with strong tendency to set aside fat. Both of these types can be very healthy and strong or very unhealthy and weak. Our biology has nothing to do with 6packs but all with hormones and being ready for having and feeding children.
I have seen many photos from modern traditional cultures, and many women (especially when they are older than let's say mid-20s) have fat around mid section and hips, often quite round bellies and heavy thighs. They eat the same what their male counterparts, even though some of the men are still very thin or wiry, or others are chubby. In the same tribe, with same food.
I have a very positive attitude to women's bodies, we have been suffering enough with the body policing. by the BMI I am "overweight", but I like my nice round butt, and I love that I can do quite a number of push ups and carry heavy grocery or boxes of books without problem.
Health and performance is the best. The way we feel. Society tries to make us unhappy and always hating our bodies, no matter what. We would benefit much more from appreciating what our bodies can do for us. Mine can do quite a lot, even with the sweet muffin top over strong abs :)
on April 29, 2011
at 11:15 PM
I definitely think women are too hard on themselves. I see it here all the time when women are posting goal weights that are far under where I'm at and I'm "normal" on the BMI chart. The BMI chart that most of the people on PH said was a load of crap. I know that most of the men I talk to (which is quite a few since I work with 50 of them and only 1 other woman, plus I deal with truck drivers) enjoy women with a bit more meat on them more than they like the skinny look. Curves are good!
I know chasing a number on the scale can be a motivating challenge and its easy to get caught up in "just a few more pounds and I'll be happy" type logic, but I learned that I'm actually happiest, healthiest and most attractive to the opposite sex at the high end of "normal" for my height.
on May 01, 2011
at 09:07 PM
Akd, I definitely think so. Women seem to be bombarded with ridiculous ideals of thinness. Media, movies, fellow women, they all seems to be saying- "you need to be thinner" to be happy. I will admit, as a teen I fell victim to thinking of my body in this way. Quite negatively.
But as I went to college and developed a greater sense of self and individuality I thought- Frankly, I don't care what other people 'think' I should look like. I don't care what a friend, possible mate, family member, boss, you name it, thinks I should look like. What matters is what I think about me and how I feel about me. This isn't selfish. It's self-esteem. It's self-worth. Sure, I need to lose some weight to be 'healthier' but I think what matters is being content with what I am right now.
I do not think women are 'destined' to lament over having six-pack abs, a rather low BF percentage, or suffer great concern about any particular feature of their being- We are human. We are imperfect. It isn't the physical part of ourselves that makes life worth living but the passion we find in our mind- our heart. A woman that embraces her imperfections as part of her and seeks to be healthy, rejecting societal ideals of 'perfection', and merely being herself will be beautiful in her own right. Some of the most beautiful women, and men for that matter, I have met have been those with a kind and beautiful heart, their physical seems unimportant.
on May 02, 2011
at 12:49 AM
YES!!! We are totally hard on ourselves but I think there is a growing trend among men too. I'm seeing the "manorexic" thing. I think guys are becoming harder on themselves and that's such a pity. I'm very hard on myself and moreso when my life is a huge effing pile of stress balls. Since going paleo I found out a lot more about myself including how foods impact my moods. However, after finding this out I'm becoming more comfortable with me. I see some chubby girls who are gorgeous because they are at ease with themselves. I see some plastic skinny girls who aren't as pretty because they feel they are never good enough (whatever that means).
One big issue we women face is the girl-on-girl hate (Mean Girls). We are way harder on each other than men are on us and we have all been guilty of it. I find myself picking other women apart and I'm more conscious of it as of late because what I'm doing is trying to make myself feel better by making others feel bad. I think this is the root of our female problems and we need to step up and change it in ourselves. I'm trying so hard to change this so I don't pass this awful and nasty habit to my own girls.
on April 29, 2011
at 03:06 AM
I am a man. I have had a six pack my whole life and my friends tease me about being muscular. But I think women look better with a little chub (yeah I called it chub). I think it's so much harder for most women to gain significant muscle. That I doubt women in hunter gather societies would get anywhere near as skinny or muscular as modern crossfiters do. As you mentioned that's not to say they aren't strong. I think both men and women have somewhat unrealistic views of what the opposite sex finds desirable. I find healthy women desirable this means mentally, physically, and emotionally. I don't think the amount of time most women would have to put into having a six pack would leave much to be attracted to. But I am just a dirty hippie.
on July 17, 2011
at 02:25 AM
This question is SO right on. I've been questioning BMI and the idea of a "dangerous amount" of belly fat since watching videos of modern day hunter gatherers and looking at pictures of native people from "exploratory missions" to Africa/South American (NYPL digital library has a bunch if you have hours and hours to dig around there).
We need fat reserves as actual and potential life-givers (along with being healthy of course). That's not the message our culture is sending us, but it is nature's reality.
I was listening to the most recent Everyday Paleo podcast and one woman was asking about losing her milk supply, but being excited about losing 15 pounds or something close to that. Our priorities are way off! I'm not trying to rag on this one woman, because I'm guilty of it too. I'm working on nourishing, loving and appreciating my body as is everyday.
on May 01, 2011
at 09:16 PM
Generally, I think the answer to your question is "yes," some people are too hard on themselves. However I think there's a middle ground between too hard and too complacent (a LOT of Americans). Self-discipline has its place, as long as the goals we're working for are for US and not anyone else. That being said, we are all works in progress, and we should be able to be peaceful in that state.
on April 29, 2011
at 10:57 AM
Indeed, thin doesnt always mean healthy or fit, I think you can be healthy with quite broad range of BF (relatively speaking). As long as you have healthy dieat and happy social life and not stressing about little things. My problem is that i am quit stressed and find it hard to relax and be happy about my life. I find it easy to loose weight or keep eating healthy, but it doesnt mean i am very happy person :(