Thursday, August 5, 2010

Body Image and Inspirational Female Athletes

Since I'm putting some focus on exercise and nutrition these days (a.k.a. "back training") (well, not actually back training this very minute, since I am so sore I can barely move!), I wanted to share these amazing and inspiring pictures of female athletes.

One of the difficulties with being a woman is that how we look is important. As someone who is overweight, I am well aware that people often see me as "that fat chick", and they discount me or underestimate me. I am also well aware that folks who value substance over looks generally find me to be interesting, intelligent, capable and kind. In some ways, being overweight screens out potential friendships with superficial jerks. What can I say? Everything has an upside!

Women are bombarded by media images of the "perfect woman" - usually she is 16-20 years old, 6 feet tall, weighs about 110 pounds. She's likely Caucasian, has the hair of the moment, and a wide mouth. It takes 2-3 hours to make her up for a photo shoot, and every single imperfection is photoshopped out afterwards. Since this woman doesn't actually exist, and since obsessively trying to be like her anyway breaks female spirits everywhere, I'd love to see women adopt a different kind of role model.

These pictures are of female Olympic Athletes. What I love about them is how gorgeous they all are - but none have the body of the media's "perfect woman". In fact, the pictures celebrate all the different kinds of healthy bodies there are for women to aspire to. Reality is that no matter how much I weigh or how much I work out, I'll never look like DeLisha Milton, Amy Aculf or Tara Lapiniski. But in peak condition, I can conceive of a body like Jennifer Parilla's  or Tobey Gifford's (Ok, my now not secret fantasy is out!)

And of course, these pictures are ideals, and are of women who are at their peak of fitness. Most of the women I know will never be that buff. Its unlikely that I will. But as role models - they eat highly nutritious food, they work out and they achieve great things. This takes tremendous discipline and commitment. To me, this is a much more valuable role model for grown women than a waif-like 18 year old whose only accomplishment is genetically perfect skin and a pretty smile.

So praise for gorgeous women athletes!  (these images are from the now defunct Sports Illustrated for Women via

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! If you don't mind, I'll share this with my nieces.