Quick hit: Bodybuilding and body-shaming

After the comment thread to a fascinating post at Feministe about female bodybuilders blew up into a melee of “I don’t think these women are fuckable therefore I refuse to engage in intelligent discussion” nonsense, Roy at No Cookies for Me posts a great followup about why body-shaming is antifeminist no matter what kind of bodies you’re targeting.

When you start talking about women’s bodies with terms like “disgusting” “grotesquerie” “disfiguring” or disturbing”, you’re engaging in exactly the kind of body shaming that a lot of us have been fighting against. So, thanks for that. A woman who can bench 450 lbs without breaking a sweat is no less deserving of respect than a woman who weighs 450 lbs. It’s one thing to question the social forces that lead us to view our bodies in various ways. It’s quite another to look at pictures of particular women and proclaim them gross.

If you can’t talk about about the ways that our society idealizes unrealistic body types without calling another woman “gross” or “disgusting”, then you’re doing it wrong, and you should take a minute to figure out why.

Right on, Roy. The kneejerk reaction of “I wouldn’t hit that” to a picture of a woman who doesn’t conform to the Western beauty ideal is antifeminist because it rests on the assumption that women’s bodies are only valuable insofar as they conform to that ideal. Just as some readers (and scientists) out there are shocked, SHOCKED!, that fat women have sex even though that particular reader doesn’t get a hard-on from looking at them, no doubt these bodybuilding women have just as varied, interesting, and intense sex as the rest of us. But even if they don’t? That’s not the fucking point. They are doing something with their bodies other than looking pretty — and if that disgusts you, the problem is with you.

58 thoughts on “Quick hit: Bodybuilding and body-shaming

  1. So now even women who have “perfect bodies” aren’t good enough? I mean perfect in the sense that they are fat free, which seems to be a requirement now. I think women bodybuilders are to be congratulated for the effort and extremely hard work it takes to look that way. I couldn’t do it and I don’t desire to have that look, but they are awesome, none the less. Some men are truly pigs, and the negative comments prove that. Looking at a woman as either “fuc**** or not” is disgusting, but SO VERY COMMON an attitude.

    Funny, how they think they’re all so fantastic and that every woman wants them, no matter WHAT they look like.. and if they don’t then of course they must be gay…

  2. They are doing something with their bodies other than looking pretty — and if that disgusts you, the problem is with you.

    A thousand times.

  3. They are doing something with their bodies other than looking pretty — and if that disgusts you, the problem is with you.

    This is perfect.

  4. In 2000, I weighed 350 pounds. In 2004 – at the age of 40 and 190# lighter – I stepped onto a bodybuilding stage to compete in a natural competition. What a rush! There was no mistaking that we were all women. None of us had augmentation. We’d worked our a$$es off and were having fun showing what the human body could do.

    I would love to do it again, but the dieting and training are all-consuming. It took me two years of heavy dieting and training to prepare. I was too tired to have sex unless it was my off-training day…didn’t have that problem when I weighed 350 (and, yes, having sex)!

    As an interesting side note, I had more attention from the men at the gym when I was at competition weight than when I was a normal weight…

  5. He hit the nail on the head! This is why I’ve gone back and forth between reading feministing and not… it seems just when people are starting to get the point, something like this drops and it comes out how little fat is a feminist issue to a lot of people. When it just plain IS. I know I can’t expect everyone to be on the same page, otherwise no one would be discriminated against, the struggle would be over, no one would be hungry, and the world would suddenly make sense (wouldn’t it be fab?)! But I get so disheartened so easily, I just have to stay away from the places that piss me off.

  6. change feministing to feministe. heh. I apparently can’t start typing anything starting in “fem” without it ending in “isting”.

  7. jasievangesen, the exact same thing can apply to Feministing too. I can’t understand how body autonomy is not a basic feminist concept for some people.

  8. As was pointed out in the comments at No Cookies, it’s *also* unhelpful when other commenters try to rebut the grossed-out folks with “I think musclewomen are totally hottt!”. Their opinion differs from the haters, but their failure to grasp that women do not exist solely for their visual consumption (or anyone else’s) is exactly the same.

  9. I didn’t add my thoughts to the feministe discussion because it was too far gone by the time I saw it. It is unbelievable to me that women who consider themselves thoughtful feminists wouldn’t see the connection to the body shaming, no matter the size or shape of a woman’s body. Or a man’s for that matter. Our bodies are not disgusting or grotesque. They are our bodies in which we live on this planet with everyone else.

  10. Ugh. Why is it that so many people have trouble seeing a body as anything beyond a sex object? Like, I know it’s animal instinct or human nature or whatever, but holy jeebus on high, can we not see people as *people* first, and bodies we might like to fuck somewhere after that?!?!

  11. You know, I never play Philip Glass at home, don’t have any of his music. Don’t particularly like to listen to most of his work that I’ve heard. BUT somehow that doesn’t stop me from appreciating that what he does is serious art, that his work is highly influential, and that he is one of the great composers of our time.

    It always really bothers me when a person uses their “preferences” as the rationale for failing to appreciate something or someone. The whole point is to use our intellects to gain understanding from people who are different from us, right?

  12. This can easily be summed by Gloria Steinem: “Women’s bodies are valued as ornaments. Men’s bodies are valued as instruments.”

  13. There was a time, in England, Canada, and probably the U.S., when red hair was considered ugly. One could have beautiful features, a lovely complexion, and thick curly hair – but if that hair was red and the complexion freckled, one was a poor, unfortunate thing. Stupid, huh? Aren’t you glad we’ve come so far?

  14. I have some slight acquaintance with bodybuilding circles, and I’ve often heard both men and women point to how “freakish” and “disgusting” male bodybuilders’ physiques are as well. It happens all the time.

    Though, of course, it’s worse for the women. The men are at least seeking a recognized ideal — albeit in what some would call an exaggerated or even unattractive form — but female bodybuilders are setting their own standards. That obviously really cheeses off some people.

    There’s also envy involved in this, and the associated resentment — as further illustrated by the idiotic presumption that any heavily muscular person must be doping, on no further evidence than appearance. Why people feel compelled to make these judgments, I have no idea.

  15. The thing that’s mind-blowing is all the “WELL THOSE WOMEN ARE USING STEROIDS! I CAN TELL JUST BY LOOKING AT THEM! THEREFORE, I MOCK THEIR APPEARANCE BECAUSE THEY MUST BE UNHEALTHY!”

    Using steroids off-label in the way many athletes and bodybuilders do is, indeed, unhealthy. But the way one determines who’s using steroids in an unhealthy way is through medical testing, not through a quick eyeballing.

    There’s a huge difference between “I find that body ideal a bit disturbing because for many people, it’s unattainable without unhealthy doses of steroids” and “THAT PERSON IS ON STEROIDS!”

    You know, it’s kind of like waif models. I find that body ideal a bit disturbing because for many people, it’s unattainable without starving. That said, I have no way of knowing what an individual waif model’s health or eating/exercise style is like, so I would hardly say that she “must be” starving.

  16. The very first comment at Feministe is, of course, all about how disgusting and unattractive the bodybuilders are. It’s only after that irrelevant bullshit was smacked down a few times that they got around to “But it’s unhealtheeeeeeee!” Which, you know, it’s nice that they have their priorities straight.

    Also, what JupiterPluvius said.

  17. I used to bodybuild, I kinda miss it. Not competition level, but just to be stronger.

    And this?
    “They are doing something with their bodies other than looking pretty — and if that disgusts you, the problem is with you.”
    should be on a sampler somewhere.. Excellent post, SM. Quick and to the point.

    (of course, I also love the in-depth long ones, and the rambly funny ones, and anything else that ends up posted over here, but that might just be my preference… HA)

  18. This comment is more on the whole “body shaming” issue and I wasn’t sure where to post it. Did anyone see Ricky Lake’s recent comments on people.com that “I can’t believe I was so fat!” It made me so mad. Women fight so much the mentality that we have to be perfect, and that fat is soooo horrible. Comments like that don’t help. Or when Jennifer Love Hewitt made tabloid headlines b/c of some less-toned bikini photos and she shot back “A size SIX isn’t fat!” My response was, “So was if it IS?” I just felt like she was also being a bit of a fat-hater. We need to be more accepting of all body types.
    I LOVED Tyra’s response a while back when people criticized her recent weight gain. She said, on behalf of all women who were made to feel less-than-lovely because people looked down on their weight, “Kiss my fat ass!”

  19. Yes, it should be very simple for feminists to recognize body autonomy. But it seems like it’s so engrained in all of us to judge women’s bodies and appearences, that people even do it on ‘feminist’ grounds. You should be able to be concerned with body image issues in dance, for example, without looking at a picture of a professional dancer (who is most likely as fit as any other athlete) and saying, they must be anorexic, or to critique the beauty industry without looking at someone who likes makeup or getting their hair done, and saying, they must be superficial, unintelligent etc. I feel like I hear too much of that from people who should know better.

  20. *First time commenting* just want to say i love your posts and this yet another wonderful example o why. Body-shaming, no matter the degree o feminist or mysogynist background one may have, is still judging based o appearance and not merit. Whatever happened to the golden rule- do unto others as you would have done to you?

  21. I don’t like enormous, veiny, bulging muscles on anyone, male or female. Especially because you’d have a very hard time convincing me you got them without steroid abuse.

    However, in the end it’s not really my business what other people choose to do with their bodies.

  22. Also plus, you can have fat bodybuilders, although maybe not in competition. There’s this woman at our gym who rocks the weights. I’ve never seen anything like it. Prejudice deceives.

  23. SM, I’d have quite a backlog of sampler projects if I could still do counted cross stitch. My eyes are too bad now, plus I can’t seem to stop knitting. Maybe some kind of intarsia project?

  24. In my experience, men often feel threatened by muscular women and women of size for the same reason–there’s a mentality of “You’re supposed to be small and meek, I’m supposed to be big and strong.” I think it’s an issue of power.

  25. You know, I was just reading that scale thing, which had diverged to a discussion of HAES and the “can you be on board with fat acceptance and deliberate weight loss?” argument.

    Bodybuilding seems like a very good case in point. You *do* have to do some deliberate body shaping for competition, and not just muscle building but fat stripping, weight class maintenance and such. That’s OK, right? That’s bodily autonomy, and we don’t criticise it? But bodyweight manipulation for reasons of attractiveness or social acceptance isn’t OK? What’s going on here?

    I don’t have a simple answer, but my current take on FA is that it’s utterly shameful the way fat people are treated, and discrimination against fat people is wrong, wrong, wrong. But telling someone that they have to stay fat, or else they’re a traitor to the cause is also wrong.

  26. While it’s nebulous, I think there’s a difference between obsessing about your body when your body actually is your career and when it’s just something that you feel all women should do.

    I don’t know if frantically losing or gaining weight in order to ‘look the part’ is healthy for an actor, but that’s part of his/her job. If you are an actor, a model, a bodybuilder… if your body-appearance is truly a huge part of your career, it’s far more reasonable to devote a huge part of your life to maintaining it in something other than its natural state.

    One of the things that first creeped me out about Weight Watchers was when I heard women talking about it as a hobby… an important part of their lives, for which they were giving up other activities. And I’m thinking, you want me to spend a chunk of my life fixating on this diet stuff? Are you nuts? I have books to read.

    It sounded crazy to me to try and devote so much time and energy to something so insignificant to me. For a bodybuilder, it’s not insignificant. Does that make sense?

  27. But telling someone that they have to stay fat, or else they’re a traitor to the cause is also wrong.

    Which is why this is a StrawFA argument, at least around here.

  28. I’m really surprised that a post at Feministe devolved that way. There seems to be more commenters at Feministing who just don’t get it. Although I haven’t read Feministe in quite a while, partly because they are (or at least used to be) a little too women’s studies for my taste.

  29. Exactly what I posted at my fat blog yesterday
    (www.fatlotofgood.org.au)

    Almost word for word in fact! : )

    Great minds think alike!

  30. partly because they are (or at least used to be) a little too women’s studies for my taste

    I have no idea what this means! (or how it’s different from here.) But I don’t usually read either Feministe or Feministing (in fact, I forget which is which) because I don’t like the commenters at either place, either.

    sweetmachine, you have to STAY FAT or else you’re a traitor!! or should I say TRAITORmachine???

  31. In my experience, men often feel threatened by muscular women and women of size for the same reason–there’s a mentality of “You’re supposed to be small and meek, I’m supposed to be big and strong.” I think it’s an issue of power.

    I agree Meg, and I also think this extends to why fat women are so dehumanized by a lot of men. Those men who view women as nothing more than objects for their visual and sexual pleasure are threatened by women won’t or can’t conform to their ideal of beauty. It’s “You’re supposed to be small and stay small so I will still find you attractive, I’m allowed to be any size I want.”

  32. Great post(s) about this, and comments, thanks everyone – especially appreciate the sanity-inducing wide notice of the inevitable from men AND women:

    Person A: I wouldn’t hit that/I want to hit that
    Person B: disgustomundo freaks eeew!
    Person C: stop being sexist assholes
    Persons A & B: I’m not sexist, it’s about HEALTH

    For fuck’s sake. The pattern is so predictable. A strawdynamic?

    Anyway, my POV is that if I want to critique legitimate concern about dysmorphia or whatever other dangers *within* bodybuilding culture from a perspective of defending women’s right to be strong, fit, to do what they want to with their bodies independently of my sacrosanct opinions and subjective desires, and from the basic premise that women athletes are, you know, ATHLETES training in a particular discipline which will have a mix of positives and risks like any other physical discipline, okay. Though it might be appropriate to do this only if I have some idea what the fuck I’m talking about.

    If I want to impose my own unexamined issues on other women’s bodies? Not so much a feminist act.

    Parenthetically (and with all due appreciation of Roy’s really great post) – I sure wish I could read a post by a male feminist/feminist ally JUST ONCE without the comment thread being littered by “I want to have your babies you’re so amazing wow I never knew men could be expected to behave like thinking, feeling human beings capable of rational and critical thought therefore I want to marry you giggle giggle you’re the coolest person who ever lived!!!!!!”

    I think I’m going to have to write a post about this peeve sooner or later, and try to figure out some way of praising good ally work (and receiving praise for it) without having it end up a bunch of jean-creaming over every small crumb of decency thrown by the privileged while the actual targets of the oppression do the heavy lifting and get little notice for it.

    So, um, I guess part of what I’m saying is: Sweet Machine? Lauren? If it’s about having (please let them be metaphoric) babies, I want to have yours. The other part is: yay allies – you did what you oughtta. Next up: we’ll give awards to people who show up for work on time, don’t kick puppies, and hold the door open for people whose arms of full of groceries, right? Oh, wait. Maybe not.

    / peeve
    (and seriously, no slam on Roy even vaguely intended – pure reaction to commenting patterns blogosphere-wide)

  33. Theriomorph, THANK YOU!

    It is so blatantly disingenuous of the negative commenters over there. “I would NOT fuck that”, quickly followed by “Oh, because of the horrible things they’re doing to their health!!”.

    That comment thread has made me really angry, and not just because I found weightlifting to be a wonderfully body positive way to exercise when I was recovering from an ED. Mainly, I would hope people on a feminist blog would be able to unpack their privilege and beliefs enough to see that their comments are anti-feminist.

    The whole “they’re totally doing steroids!” claim has also pissed me off. Educate yourselves first, then speak. There are so many myths circulating as fact in society about steroids, and I find it interesting that female bodybuilders tend to be the ones so quickly accused of drug abuse. Because, clearly, “women just can’t look like that”.

  34. Gemma, I do strength training, and I’ve read up on it, and the books and my trainers all say the same thing, some variation of: Don’t worry about bulking up, ladies, you’d have to take steroids and/or hormones and eat ridiculous quantities of protein to get the kinds of muscles that men can develop. (Apparently, women are afraid of strength training because they might become all muscle-bound and masculine and stuff).

    So, of course I’m going to assume they are doing steriods. That, plus the fact that there are separate competitions for natural and enhanced bodybuilders, and the natural women are considerably smaller than the enhanced ones. I figure anyone, male or female, with that kind of muscular development had some help from science.

    And I wonder what makes a person go to those lengths to acheive their ideal of physical perfection. WIth an eating disorder, the bad stuff doesn’t show up right away, so you can convince yourself it won’t show up at all, but don’t some of the nasty side-effects of steroid use show up pretty quickly? (Note: I have an eating disorder, not a steroid problem, so that will be colouring the way I look at this).

  35. JPlum, it’s patently untrue that women can’t gain muscle mass and look ripped without doing steroids, which is what a lot of people over on Feministe were insinuating, or flat out claiming. It is incredibly difficult and takes longer than it would a male counterpart but women can and do accomplish it. As someone with an interest in this, you understand that, which puts you miles ahead of the people I was referring to and who still feel they are qualified to judge these women.

    Do I think that all female bodybuilders abstain? Not at all. I am not saying that steroid use is not common in the bodybuilding world, because it clearly is. A huge amount of money goes into both finding ways to test for performance enhancing drugs, and ways to avoid detection of such, which is true for the entire sporting world. I can Google ‘steroids + bodybuilding’ and find a TON of articles that would guide me through the entire process, whether I am looking to gain, cut, or shape up before a competition.

    What bothers me is the immediate assumption that any woman with muscles is abusing steroids. There’s such a thing as natural variation in muscle mass and the ability to gain. I am not arguing that women who do not do steroids look no different from women who have been using steroids consistently for a prolonged period of time, but I do stand by my assertion that the general public cannot just glance at a picture of a female weightlifter or bodybuilder and KNOW they are on steroids. Most people clearly feel any kind of muscle on women is ‘unnatural’ so there is a low set point here for the assumption. I’m pretty sure that most people, upon seeing a ripped, large muscled man in the street, don’t immediately assume he abuses steroids. Is that true for a woman with similar physical characteristics?

    You clearly have an understanding of bodybuilding/weightlifting, but does the majority of the public? The same people who feel so comfortable judging these women on both their attractiveness and their health? Those are the people who I am talking about here. And, honestly, even if I were to concede that ALL these professionals are using steroids, does that give anyone the right to degrade them, call them ‘unfuckable’, ‘weird’, or ‘disfigured’, all under the guise of ‘caring about their health’?

    As for your question about the effects of steroids: it really depends on how they are used. It’s common in the bodybuilding world to ‘cycle’ steroid use to gain mass quickly and efficiently whilst reducing some of the common side effects such as mood changes, etc. Considering the connection of steroid use to the hormone testosterone, I strongly suspect that the physical changes that can be permanent (changes to the genitals, pitch of the voice, body hair, etc), would require prolonged use of the drug, so I would be surprised if the negative effects occur quickly for the user. However, there are many different steroids on the market so it would really depend on your medical history and the particular cocktail you are using for gaining/cutting.

  36. and seriously, no slam on Roy even vaguely intended – pure reaction to commenting patterns blogosphere-wide

    I don’t think you have to worry about Roy being offended – the reason his blog is called “No cookies for me” is because he doesn’t think he deserves any cookies for treating women as human beings. So I think he would agree with your peeve.

  37. “They are doing something with their bodies other than looking pretty…”

    Female bodybuilders are not pursuing their version of physical perfection because they think it’s ugly & off-putting–your version of pretty is (perhaps) not their version of pretty, but pretty is still in play.

    And the means they use in pursuit of that physical perfection–excessive exercise, narrow eating patterns, possible drug use to maintain physical perfection–are the same methods used by pencil thin models and trophy wives; it’s a denial of the body’s natural shape, in service to a beauty esthetic.

    And that’s fine and cool and whatever (we all have our own breaking point before the body god) but I don’t think it means these women are (as the original post said):

    “representations of femininity that isn’t that of a delicate orchid.”

    I think the bodybuilder pics are representations of a femininity that is as profoundly false, strained & unnatural as any air-brushed, “delicate orchid” fashion princess–and that has nothing to do with their fuckability, but how women are forever being fucked over with impossible images of the female form.

  38. Lola, shouldn’t we take into account the fact that bodybuilders aren’t photoshopped? They are ‘natural’ in the sense that they are stocked with REAL muscle, whether steroids helped build them or not. I don’t believe that is the same as manipulating photographs to create an image that is impossible to recreate in real life.

    Bodybuilders are also not pushed on women as an ideal. No one is told we “have” to look like a pro weightlifter, and in fact such women are often degraded for their appearance by society. I would be surprised if, when asked, the average woman on the street genuinely felt like she was expected to look like a body builder, as opposed to a model.

    That said, what are the motives of female bodybuilders? I am not going to pretend to know. Some preliminary reading does show a relatively high incident of EDs in this population but that is also true of almost any competitive sport, most likely due to the demands placed on them. Is that all tied in with the larger societal consensus of body image? I should think so, in the fact that it is connected to a woman’s personal view of her body and her identity, but can it be said to be exactly the same as all those airbrushed pictures of women on Vogue, etc? I don’t believe so.

    I don’t believe they are representations of a “false femininity”.

  39. Whatever she is doing to her body, it’s still that person’s body; and in anology to the anorexia thread, it’s pretty much up to her and the people who know her to intervene if what she is doing is unhealthy or inappropriate. If you see a really muscley woman in the street, you shouldn’t assume steroid use and question her about it. She might be the tail of the bell curve or perhaps a MTF transperson. We just don’t know from looking, just as we don’t know from looking if someone is fat from a physical disease, or binge eating, or pregnant, or is just where her body naturally falls..

  40. Oh, and I’m uncomfortable with idea of false feminity. If a person is female, then they represent at least one example of feminity. I think there can be false ideas about and false portrayals of feminity, but any woman is really feminine. We’re all women, whether we prance about in high heels and makeup, or do bodybuilding, or wear thick glasses and do geek stuff. We’re all feminine.

  41. “Lola, shouldn’t we take into account the fact that bodybuilders aren’t photoshopped?

    That’s an interesting point–some of those pics *do* look worked over to me (correcting make-up, skin tone, fly-away hair, making sure the muscles pop off the photo, etc) but the ones that aren’t have that to their credit.

    “They are ‘natural’ in the sense that they are stocked with REAL muscle, whether steroids helped build them or not. ”

    This, I don’t get–I don’t see the greater value in “real” muscle, if that muscle is produced by “unreal” methods; seems no different than the “fake skinny” many women maintain via dangerous eating, exercise, drugs.

    “Bodybuilders are also not pushed on women as an ideal. No one is told we “have” to look like a pro weightlifter,”

    Whether bodybuilders ever become the dominant beauty standard isn’t the issue for me; whether it’s a bodybuilder or waif or tight & taut at thirty! or forever fuckable at seventy! all those images and visual demands add up–constantly building underlying themes about the female body as a plastic, shapeable form–the female body as funhouse mirror.

    And maybe if there were millions of images of women of all shapes and sizes and ethnicities flooding us everyday, this kind of visual undermining might be a minor point; but every fucking image with ANY currency in this country is an exaggerated form of the female body–and because of that, our bodies–our “real”, genuine, chubby, skinny, age-spotted, baby-skinned, messy, beautiful bodies–are now the most rare, most exotic of images in this culture.

    “I don’t believe they are representations of a “false femininity”.”

    I compared two sets of images of female bodies that are, to my eye, *equally* strained & false–your truncated quote (pet peeve of mine, sorry:) makes it sound as if I singled out these bodybuilder photos as sole representions of that–big difference (at least to me).

    “Whatever she is doing to her body, it’s still that person’s body;”

    Of course–as I said, we all make our deals with the body god, and these women have every right to do with their bodies as they so wish (and I have every right to comment on a blog post about their photos :)

  42. Lola, about the ‘real’ muscle issue I brought up: my point is that it’s something they worked for through strength training. Maybe this is a weird biology issue for me but I just think it’s really fucking cool that women, who are constantly told they’re weak and need to be small (read: invisible), can build muscle that challenges the preset gender roles. That muscle is solid, and it’s political. I guess, for me, even if steroids were used to achieve added bulk, there’s still this big political statement involved when adding mass to yourself. They didn’t hand their photos over to someone who drew on those muscles, or made their body fat invisible; they just made themselves through a LOT of hard work.

    Sorry if my chosen quote made it seem like I thought you were singling out bodybuilders. :) I do actually see your point but it’s still bothering (as in, I’m trying to work out why I disagree) me somehow, and I don’t think I’m doing a good job of articulating why. I definitely agree with your point about how different things would be if we were constantly exposed to images of women from all different countries, in all different sizes, modes of dress, etc. There would be less of a political statement to extreme physical characteristics if they were in the context of varied body image, instead of society’s very narrow view of what is acceptable.

  43. “Maybe this is a weird biology issue for me but I just think it’s really fucking cool that women, who are constantly told they’re weak and need to be small (read: invisible), can build muscle that challenges the preset gender roles.”

    I agree that anything challenging the “long muscles only, pretty girls!” mindset is to be applauded–this phrase of yours:

    “That muscle is solid, and it’s political.”

    (love that phrase, btw) has far better examples than these bodybuilder photos, imo–if the original post had pointed to a Cheryl Haworth, say, as an example of gender-bending power, that would’ve been a much better fit (it’s also, to me, an example of strength-in-action vs. the strike-a-pose & pop-a-muscle element).

    “I do actually see your point but it’s still bothering (as in, I’m trying to work out why I disagree) me somehow, and I don’t think I’m doing a good job of articulating why.”

    …you don’t need my approval, but from this end, you did a great job–you made me take a second look at another facet of all the body shit coming at women every day– thanks for the conversation.

  44. “Of course–as I said, we all make our deals with the body god, and these women have every right to do with their bodies as they so wish (and I have every right to comment on a blog post about their photos :)”

    I’m pretty sure every fat person has been confronted with the stereotype that all fat people are fat because they’re lazy and love to eat. But some fat people are lazy and love to eat (me included). Do they deserve to be shamed? Do they deserve to have their bodies critiqued or their choices questioned? Then why do women who choose to be body-builders not warrant the same respect, WHETHER OR NOT THEY USE STEROIDS?

    I’m surprised at the comments on this post from so-called advocates of body acceptance.

  45. “I’m pretty sure every fat person has been confronted with the stereotype that all fat people are fat because they’re lazy and love to eat. But some fat people are lazy and love to eat (me included). Do they deserve to be shamed? Do they deserve to have their bodies critiqued or their choices questioned?”

    I don’t agree with the equivalence you’re drawing here; questioning the idea that photographs of women–who have taken dangerous drugs to modify their bodies–is some kind of positive balance against photographs of woman as weak, willowy flowers is not the same thing as criticizing and shaming women for being fat, food-loving and “lazy” (the last in quotes because that word as a simple description is troubling to me. It’s a perjorative traditionally reserved for women & lower class men of all ethnicities, and rarely used against upper class white men–and when it is, it’s done to lower their status to that of “lazy” women/Mexicans/ white trash/etc. If you’re reclaiming the word, good for you–it has too muddy a religious/cultural history for me to easily do the same).

    “WHETHER OR NOT THEY USE STEROIDS?”

    Please don’t scream at me; all it makes me want to do is scream back. (And I think I’ve already made it clear why I have a problem with steroid use in this situation–anything else would be repetition at this point).

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