Have you ever seen something so stupid, so asinine, so absurd, that your brain almost doesn’t know what to do with it? When something makes so little sense, and has no basis in any sort of reality, that your mind can’t quite compute what you’re looking at? When that feeling combines with the disappointment that this stupid thing is coming from a publication that a) knows better, or at least should and b) women actually read it and will take it for face value, thinking it’s true.
Earlier this week, my friend Noelle Tarr of Coconuts and Kettlebells posted this steaming hot pile of bullshit that was pointed out to her by a friend.
I was later informed that this came from Shape Magazine. Funny, because I went on a ‘fuck you, Shape, tirade on Instagram just a few months ago.
I can’t with this magazine.
I stopped reading health and fitness magazines a long time ago. Mostly because the more I learned about health, nutrition and fitness, the more I realized that these pages are loaded with nonsense. Most of it is out dated or flat out wrong. It’s all hook after hook to convince you that in THIS issue, is the magic bullet you’ve been missing to get skinny and finally be worth something. It’s not though, obviously, because then why would you ever buy another magazine?
Every single cover of every single magazine is the same trash. “Get smaller”, “Loose fat”, “Make guys like you.”, “Feel great by being skinny.”. Even the “real women” who grace the covers proclaiming how much the love their curves are photoshopped to the bitter end to pretty much look like every other stick figure super model that’s usually on there. It’s just the same thing over and over and over again.
Magazines make money on the very very simple concept of convincing you that you’re gross, fat, ugly and unlovable…and only with the things in the pages of their publication will you ever be beautiful, sexy, loved and accepted.
They need you to be insecure in order to make a profit.
If you’re confident, if you accept your body how it is, if you learn for yourself, if you work with your coaches and within your community to train and get healthy – they don’t make any money.
They need to make you feel like you need them by making you feel like you’re not enough.
This one, though, is a new level of stupidity. Celebrity trainers. People who we’ve decided for whatever reason are smarter than everyone else because their clients are celebrities. If they trains a celebrity, they MUST be right!
Let’s get a few things straight.
One: It’s not a “weights room”. No one has ever called it a weights room, and if you are calling it a weights room, I’m gonna go ahead and assume you’ve never been in one. Noelle pointed this out, too. Because NO ONE SAYS THAT.
Two: How you grip the bar does not make your muscles grow wider or more narrow. This is is dumbest shit I have ever heard. Sure, a wider grip may change which muscles are activated during the lift, but GRIP does not change the direction that the muscles grow in. This is the thing that I find just impossible to even understand where the fuck this idea came from. What lifts are going on with a narrow grip?? Is Charlize just doing sumo deadlift high pulls all day long? Here’s a funny thing: if you grip the bar ‘narrow’ in say, a back squat, you’re going to engage more upper body muscles – lats, shoulders, delts….that will make them ‘grow’. Whereas if you were to back squat with a WIDE grip, those muscles would be left doing nothing…thus, not growing.
Physiological dumbassery aside, now we reach the pinnacle of ‘what the fuck was Shape Magazine thinking’-ness.
“a wide grip makes muscles grow wide and your body more masculine”
I wish there was a way to give an entire magazine the middle finger. Truly. What. The actual. Fuck.
I’ve seen articles in mainstream fitness magazines about not being afraid of weights. That women don’t generally get super bulky by accident. We keep seeing ‘strong is beautiful’, and the idea that women and femininity take many forms SEEMS to be everywhere. Then there’s this. THIS. Wide = Masculine. Narrow = Feminine. I’m not often at a loss for words, but this quote makes me want to bash my head into a wall for the sheer fact that I don’t know how to express myself or my thoughts around it.
Here I am…looking so wide and man-like because of all those wide-gripped lifts I do.
MUSCLES DO NOT MAKE YOU MASCULINE.
Muscles make you CAPABLE. Muscles keep your bones strong ad joints safe. Muscles stabilize your spine. Guess what you need for a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery? Strong pelvic floor MUSCLES. Pretty sure growing a human inside you isn’t masculine. Last I checked. Muscles are strength. They are hard work. They are good posture. They are speed. They create form.
Every woman who contributed to this post lifts weights from light to heavy and used grips from wide, to small, to mixed, to whatever. None of them look like men because of their muscles. They all look strong. They all look capable. They all look powerful. They all look happy. They all look healthy. They all look confident. They all LOOK LIKE WOMEN.
Hey Shape, all those articles you LOOOOOOVE to write about “getting toned fast”. Guess what TONING is?
IT’S MAKING FUCKING MUSCLES, YOU FOOLS!
So, before I say something that makes no sense out of sheer, red, visceral anger, I decided to reach out to some of my favorite women in the fitness field to get their thoughts. Here’s what they had to say:
“Let’s just talk about this for a hot minute. If you are a female, you have feminine form. Plain and simple. To project that anything, in the world of fitness, will make your body something that it is not is about the most damaging thing you could do to the mindset of an athlete. if you train in ballet, gymnastics, powerlifting, crossfit, strongman, and you are a woman, you have feminine form! Wtf else could feminine form be? Are we still living in a world where we all have to look the same and be a certain way? GIVE ME A BREAK! reading this quote makes me #1 want to go burn all the Shape Magazine’s I see on the shelves but I’m not that aggressive. #2 it makes me beg the question, with what science does Charlize’s “trainer” base these absurd accusations off of? #3 who fucking cares if you gain broad shoulders? If your shoulders are used to lift your baby, carry your own groceries, move your own furniture, or flip 600# tires, they’re GOOD FOR SOMETHING! This shaming of potentially looking masculine is so pathetic and needs to be done with RFN (right fuckin’ now).”
Noelle Tarr the author of the popular health and fitness blog Coconuts and Kettlebells. She’s also an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, Nutritional Therapy Pracittioner and the co-host of the Paleo Women Podcast.
“1. This is yet another example of media sources trying to define the way a woman “should” look to be attractive and accepted. There is no one pre-defined way women should look. PERIOD. As a woman, you get to define what it means to be and exist as a woman. It can mean having muscles, being strong, and lifting weights. Or, it can mean not lifting or having more defined muscle. YOU GET TO DECIDE BECAUSE IT’S YOUR BODY. 2. I’ve been lifting heavy for 10 years—and I have yet to “bulk up.” I’ll let you know when that happens since apparently I should be avoiding that. 3. Gripping a bar “wide” doesn’t make your muscles “grow wide.” THAT DOESN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE. A wide grip simple requires recruitment of different muscles. Following the same logic, using a reverse grip should make your muscles grow in reverse. 4. It’s weight room, not “weights room.” Please spread the word because apparently, it’s needed.”
“My initial thought, even without any context, is that this quote is ignorant, insulting, and wrong. And then, throw in the context: Under a large pink heading that reads “Feminine form”. Above another idiotic pink heading that reads “Bite-sized snacks”. Spoken by a trainer that supposedly trains a woman that females all over the world idolize. And in a magazine that is successful only because of the ads it runs that feed off of female insecurity and self loathing. I could vomit.
I’ll start with the less important point: the ignorance of the quote just in terms of body mechanics. It doesn’t take into account which movement is being performed (“every exercise”), which will largely impact which muscle group is being used and therefore strengthened. A narrow grip row, for instance, will actually build up lat width and strength, helping to build the largest muscles in the back, potentially, building building up more muscle mass and therefore, size (got to love those beautiful lats). Perhaps more important to note is that purposefully building muscle imbalances is irresponsible as a trainer and almost always leads to injury. I could go on…
More importantly, who gets to define the feminine form? No one. I have beautifully growing lats, a long torso, and strong shoulders. Feminine. Another woman might have long legs, little muscle tone, and a tiny waste. Feminine. Another might have thick thighs and large breasts. Feminine. The list goes on. What should a woman look like? Dumb question. She she should look exactly as she does in that moment. That is beauty. That is strength.
So, to Shape magazine: keep your bite-sized snacks and irresponsible “trainer” tips to yourself. I’ll stick with heavy lifting, full sized snacks, and confidence that you have no right to try and diminish. ”
Steph Gaudreau of StupidEasyPaleo.com and StephGaudreau.com was going to share her thoughts as well, but just like me, the craziness of the statement and need for discussion on the topic sent her on a writing spree and a post of her own. You can find her thoughts on the topic here at StephGaudreau.com