“Strong is Sexy”

Posted: June 27, 2014 in Problems, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

This is common to hear in a lot of fitness spaces. And often the message is plastered across photos of women who look like fitness models, or are fitness models.

Such at this:

Or this:

Strong is the new skinny! Of course the woman wearing that is very thin. Strong too, I’m sure, but she’s also very thin.

The message from these seems to be that “strong” looks only one way- and that one way to look strong is the be thin and conventionally attractive. I already talked about this a little in my post on being muscular vs having low body fat: strong is not one singular look. There are a lot of different ways to look and still be strong.

And it’s interesting the claim is that strong is sexy, yet all the images associated with it are of women who are thin and still meet the standard conventions of what is attractive. But if strong is sexy, then sexy would not be limited to these body types.

Where are my strong is sexy memes with Kristin Rhodes,  who won the United Strongmen Women’s World Championships in 2012?

If strong is sexy, Kristin is very sexy.

Or Holley Mangold, and olympic athlete who competed in the 2012 olympics in weightlifting?

Yet the message strong is sexy does not seem to encompass the wide range of body sizes and shapes that strong bodies come in, rather focusing on a very limited subset of strong bodies that are also thin and conventionally attractive.

So the message is actually less that strong is sexy, than that sexy can also be strong. That you can be conventionally attractive and still lift heavy and have muscles. But not that lifting heavy and having muscles necessarily makes you sexy.

It’s a pretty big difference. It’s a difference between celebrating women’s physical  strength and the beauty of that strength in all it’s body types, vs celebrating a very specific and restricted body type but saying you can still be strong with that body type.


I’d love to get behind the message that strong is sexy, I think it’s a great message. But I can’t get behind it right now because that phrase is not being used with a message that actually says strong is sexy.

  1. […] written some a little about this before: when Prince Fielder posed nude and got fat shamed for it, my problems with the phrase “strong is sexy” because it ignores strong women who are not…, and a post on the difference between “muscular” vs low body fat. Looking at the […]

  2. […] page, is this article about Ronda Rousey and the “Strong is the New Skinny” saying. I’ve written a bit before about my thoughts on the inaccuracies of the saying “Strong …– in short, this message does not ever seem to include women who are strong but not also thin […]

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