“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: