“Strong is the new skinny,” is what everyone says these days. No longer do you have to look like a runway model! No longer do you have to starve yourself! Wow! Everyone is ecstatic.
Except not everyone is. Who isn’t? I am not. That’s because I know that “strong” means you still have to starve yourself (or at least be restrictive). And build eight pack abs on top of that. “Strong” sets an even higher standard that’s even harder to achieve. It’s unrealistic. It calls for amount of willpower. It demands an egregious amount of your time.
(Don’t argue with me: these women are skinny, okay?)
(Search results from Googling “strong is the new skinny”):
Because when people say “strong is the new skinny” what most of them actually mean is “lean with lots of muscle” is the “new skinny.”
Not everyone distorts “strong” to mean “thin and muscled” like these women do. Some actually believe that physical strength — and not the physical, idealized body that comes from hardcore exercise — but actual physical power — is what is truly beautiful.
The inspiring shewolves of Wolf Pack Fitness are one group of incredible, powerful women like this. Many Crossfit women (hellooo Stacy Toth of paleo parents) are some others. Lots of women who do push ups or sling kettlebells in our own movement are others. You do know my friend Noelle, right?
But that doesn’t stop the fact that the primary sentiment behind the “strong is the new skinny” movement is that beauty is all about the way that your body looks.
This is not an idea I like very much.
What is beauty about?
Beauty–true beauty, the kind of beauty that stops your heart and makes the world go ’round–is about love.
It’s about compassion.
It’s about having the courage to affirm yourself and to affirm others on a daily basis.
It’s about daring to say yes to positivity and no to hate.
It’s about owning who you are and never backing down.
It’s about always apologizing when you should and never when you shouldn’t.
It’s about vulnerability.
It’s about the firm grip of your hand, the warmth of your hug, the welcoming light in your eyes, and the open laughter on your lips.
It is, as I have said, about love.
I highly recommend this speech by Lupita Nyong’o. What is beauty? she asks. It’s not the color of your skin, that’s for sure. It’s not your waistline. It’s your compassion. For yourself, your loved ones, and the world.
If we are going to change our standards of beauty away from “skinny,” we may as well do it right and go all the way. Maybe a part of beauty is about muscles. Maybe some of it is health. Maybe it’s about your hair or your radiant skin. But maybe it’s about so much more than that.
Maybe it’s about a future in which the best, most admired, and most desired people are those with the biggest hearts.
I am more than okay with being attractive. I will continue to try to be so. I cannot help it – nothing will stop the human race from caring about aesthetic pleasure. But being attractive is not what makes me beautiful. It is not what makes me desirable. It is one small component of who I am–only the surface of an entire, powerful being.
I will not try to be skinny. I will not even try all that hard to be strong.
But I will try to have a big heart, and to love myself (read Sexy by Nature), to love my family, and to love the world with the most open and daring compassion I can possibly muster.
Community, prepare thyselves to be bombarded by a steady stream of “love is the new skinny” memes.
Please pin and share these as widely and freely as you like. Memes are, after all, the best way to share good ideas.
In fact, if you’d like to make your own, and share them on the Paleo for Women Facebook page, tweet them to @paleoforwomen, or tag me on Pinterest or Instagram, I’ll re-post them to make your voice heard.
And my favorite:
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I LOVE this idea so much! I started working on a post about this in the summer time and it ended up getting subsumed into something much larger. I completely agree that “Strong is the new Skinny” can be just as, if not more, damaging than just regular notions of thinness being equated with beauty. Especially when you consider the female body’s sensitivity to restriction and intense exercise it can be incredibly hard to have a physique such as those above and continue to maintain one’s health and fertility. A lot of women are already stressed out enough as it is, adding this intense physical stress is completely unnecessary. I can’t wait to join the “Love is the new Skinny” movement! You rock Stefani 🙂
I <3 "love is the new skinny" … mad props for this post!
PS. I want a tee with fuzzy bear on it!!
I second that! I’d totally pay to have a t-shirt with that cute bear and the “love is the new skinny” tag line on it! Any chances it’ll be available on your website one day in the near future? 🙂
Working on it 🙂
So absolutely right…the new “strong is the new skinny” just put a new level of demand on the female psyche … so not only now do we need to be skinny but muscled too. Perhaps there are more important things to be doing in our days than lifting weights and running miles. Not that these things are bad in balance. I love to move around the weights and ride the stationary bike. But I cannot be obsessed by this. When I haven’t moved enough (shoveling tons of snow!!) it’s time to hit the weights or take an extra walk. I am 59 years old and want to feel confident in my body. But ultimately Life is about Love and Love is about Compassion … Compassion keeps us in tune to what it is like to be in others shoes. And when you can walk in anybody’s shoes … you have found love.
I love your posts, Stefani! Your positive attitude is a lot like mine!
I’m wondering if you’ve come across anything about women treating other women badly (prejudice)- towards those who are better looking (or in better shape)than them? There’s lots of jealousy out there, when we should be getting to know each other beyond looks.
“Love is the new skinny” would put an end to that!
This is awesome. Made me tear up on my subway home:)
LOVE this, Stefani! 🙂 You made my day with this! 🙂
I couldn’t agree with this more. I think the strong is the new skinny came from the whole thinspo/fitspo thing. It’s healthier to strive to be lean and muscled (in most cases) compared to starving away fat and muscle to become supermodel skinny.
The thing that bugs me about all of this is what about the girls that are naturally skinny? The ‘real women’ movement annoys me. All women are real!
I love this idea. Loving others, hobbies and yourself is so, so important.
AND STRONG JUST IS.
Hell yes it is! <3 <3 <3 LOVE This and LOVE YOU!
Hey sweetheart, sooooo I know you don’t know who I am and I’m sure you’ve never even heard of me before, but I just finished listening to you speak with Liz on her podcast and oh my goodness, you are my new favourite person 😀
Seriously, though. YOU AND I have SO much in common. I would do pretty much ANYTHING to meet you soon. Too bad I live real far away from you, but I really do hope to connect with you because you truly are like my long lost twin.
I have battled an ED and have finally found (after many years) a place where I am the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been. Of course, I am ALWAYS going to keep moving forward and I year from now I hope I am even in a healthier place because you and I both know… it is a long freaking journey, but WOW, girl. You are amazing and I just feel so connected to you. It was like I could have wrote this post!
I really hope we get in touch at some point. I would love to chat with you more!
YOU are amazing.
As far as I’m concerned, models and stewardesses have hostile work environments! When you have to cultivate a cocaine habit just to be able to work in those fields, it’s game over. Drugs or an eating disorder are how the super-skinny keep super-skinny, and all for the sake of big paydays.
Remember Carol Alt–the model who ended up dying in a hospital from severe anorexia? I’d like to live long enough to be a burden to taxpayers, thank you.
I just love this so much! If we could spread this message, we could change the world. Or at least the way women view themselves which I truly believe COULD change the world! Keep doing what you do and being the wonderful inspiring sexy woman that you are 🙂
This is the first time I visit here and I found so much interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion, thank you.