Why I Don't Want Abs
I don’t want a visible 6-pack, or even a 4-pack.
Yes, having strong core muscles is imperative for all athletic pursuits from walking to rock climbing. However, I don’t want my muscles to be visibly defined. I am aware that I could be one of the only women to claim this, and I do have my reasons.
STRONG > SKINNY.
In a world that celebrated being skinny, we now celebrate being strong. This is an AMAZING feat and we should be thrilled that we now encourage strength over fragility. Being healthy and fit is a gift, and takes discipline. I acknowledge all the amazing athletes that pursue athleticism as a hobby or a career. As a woman pursuing a career in fitness myself, I know the amount of dedication and perseverance it takes to achieve peak performance.
Although, I do feel that we have jumped from one stereotype to another. Waif thin models are being replaced by toned or shredded models. I think it is a beautiful thing to have muscles. However, there is a new stigma that is erupting and it can be equally damaging towards building body positivity: abs are the new thigh gap.
When does the pursuit of a higher standard in physical appearance stop? When is it ok to draw the line in the sand and say enough is enough: no more “sucking in” for photos, no more photo-shopping in a thigh gap? It starts with having a motivation for fitness and strength that is greater than outward appearance. Inner strength and beauty is far more important than outward beauty.
LET’S GET REAL.
I train for my job and I train for my life. My health depends completely on my strength and fitness. My pursuit is motivated by something bigger than having a 6-pack and toned arms. I know myself. If I were to actually obtain a visible 6-pack, my body fat percentage would have to be dangerously low and I would feel a pressure to maintain it. I would feel a pressure to stay shredded and lean, like it was some sort of duty I had to uphold.
Now, you could just tell me not to worry about the aesthetic, but that is a naïve way of thinking. No one is immune to societal stereotypes. No matter how confident you are or how much self-love you have, no one can ignore up to 5,000 advertisements per day. I recognize that some women can achieve 6-packs and shredded, lean physiques very easily without decreasing their body fat percentage too low. However, these are rare unicorns amongst us.
Instead, let’s attack the stereotype. Let’s work together to celebrate attributes within each other that are not tied to appearance. Why don’t we strive to make being positive, joyful, sexy, sassy, or funny the new viral sensation? On the same note, let’s keep training and being badasses in the gym but let’s cut ourselves some slack, especially on social media. Let’s celebrate our strength, our health, and our perseverance and determination to be better than we were the day before. Let’s crush our goals, regardless of how ripped our abs are.