What Does "Strong" Look Like?
I'll admit it. I'm guilty. Just a couple of years ago, heck, just some months ago I was using the hashtag #strongnotskinny on my fitness Instagram posts. It must have somehow made me feel better about knowing damn well that I could never be skinny, even if I tried. It's kind of like the "I didn't want it anyway" response after you've already lost the much coveted first place in the fourth grade art contest (it happened to, um, a friend). It must have somehow made me feel better to clarify that I wasn't after skinny, I was after strong... a far more superior goal.
Here's the thing though. The more that I become submerged in the fitness industry, the more I learn, the more I train and the more I venture into different disciplines, the more my views on certain subjects change. I have completely redefined my views on what it means to be "strong". I have realized that strength has very little to do with muscles and body fat percentages. Strength isn't about body mass, or PR's and it's definitely not about flexing in every freaking photo. Strength is having the balls to get up every morning to handle your business. Strength is battling your demons day in and day out and conquering. Strength is doing what you have to do to put food on the table, to give your children a better future, to follow your dreams or even to just survive. That's strength. Getting shit done despite how you feel inside... that's strong. So, I asked myself: could strong be skinny? Abso-fucking-lutely! The more I began to realize what it really means to be strong, the more I realized hashtags like those are passive aggressive AF and do more harm than good. And I never want to send the message that skinny girls (or boys) can't be strong.
Physically speaking, I've come to know some pretty tiny girls who are incredibly athletic. I also know some very curvy, plus-size and overweight people who are super strong and healthy, perhaps even healthier than most of us. The notion that curvy/fat/overweight people are automatically unhealthy is just as ignorant as assuming that all skinny people are weak. In this, my first year of fitness obsession, I've come to realize that things aren't always what they seem. I've seen some pretty fit, muscular, strong-looking people do some very unhealthy things to their bodies. It's been a very eye-opening journey.
I wish more of us would be supportive of one another and realize that the messages we often send out on social media can greatly affect the minds of others. Especially our youth. I wish we could stop being so competitive and appreciate each other's efforts. I'll admit, I'm one to roll my eyes at some of these "fitness experts" who claim to have all the answers. It seems as though all of a sudden, with the Instagram boom, everyone is an expert at something. Everyone is champing at the bit to monetize on their five minutes of exposure or following. And hey, I ain't hatin', I respect the hustle. But perhaps, we can take a step back and focus more on what we are trying to achieve, rather than putting down what we aren't. And let's not be so quick to judge a book by its cover, there are some pretty scrawny black belts walking around out there. ;)