Mythbusting athleticism and femininity

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN

Monday, February 18, 2019

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IT'S no secret that throughout the decades women have been constantly torn between societal and cultural expectations of what their bodies should look like. One thing that was clear was that the idea of athleticism and femininity coexisting was a figment of the imagination — that is until about two decades ago. And while it is still not unanimously accepted that a woman can be “feminine” even if she exercises, according to certified fitness instructor and personal trainer Gisel Harrow, women who aspire to achieve a more athletic figure are now celebrated on a much wider landscape.

“These ideologies box women into a corner so not only are they made to feel that they are inadequate because of the way they look, but it also discourages women from committing to exercise, especially weightlifting, because it makes them feel like they would be less feminine since they would be more toned,” Harrow said.

Fortunately, she said that this way of thinking is fading, albeit some people are not willing to change their existing standards of femininity.

She reasoned that more people are embracing this version of female physicality because it not only embraces a healthier female body, but mind and soul as well since exercise triggers the release of feel-good hormones. With this said, Harrow encourages women to lose the fear of looking 'tougher' because of exercising, because unless you are aiming to have that look, for example, in the case of bodybuilders, then this will not happen.

“There are a lot of women who have this exact fear about lifting weights because they believe that it will have them looking manly. The truth is, women can work out all day, everyday, and still have a feminine body. In fact, research shows that while women actually have the ability to build as much muscle as men, this will take many years of targeted weightlifting and banned supplements that are harmful to the body after sometime in order for this to happen,” Harrow explained.

She further underscored that women are not able to naturally have manly muscles because they don't produce the high level of testosterone that men do. She said on the contrary, what choosing the right combination of exercises will mould is an aesthetically pleasing body — a combination of convex and concave curves.

“In addition to exercise, for a beautiful body you will also consider what you consume. The first step to achieving that nice, toned body is complementing your exercise regimen with healthy, balanced meals, particularly enough protein and carbohydrates that will facilitate muscle growth. So stop worrying about becoming She-Hulk and get on with your exercise plan,” Harrow advised.


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