Lifting weights and femininity can co-exist. That’s what Liza Parker proved after posting an Instagram photo of two versions of herself: one at the gym and one in a dress. To her, both equally feminine.
The Ontario, Canada, native started lifting weights a year ago, and while working out gave her confidence in herself, she saw more negativity from others the more she posted about her progress.
“I have been told I ‘looked better before,’ prior to lifting, to ‘go eat some food or a burger,’” she explained to Yahoo Lifestyle. “’I have been told there is ‘something wrong’ with my body shape, my ‘stomach is gross,’ I ‘have no curves,’ am “so flat you look like a human surfboard,’ and don’t look ‘womanly.’”
“Based on society’s standard of beauty femininity is usually judged on how one looks. I like to think of it as how I FEEL,” she wrote on her post. “I feel feminine when I’m all dressed up, hair down, ready to go out BUT I also feel feminine when I’m at the gym, hair up with no make up, drenched in sweat, powering through one last rep! I don’t have hips, a large chest, or a big booty but it doesn’t make me any less of a woman.”
Her followers applauded her post, which got thousands of likes.
“Hella yes! People are completely ridiculous. You’re a strong and gorgeous woman and should be so proud ” one wrote.
Parker says lifting makes her feel good and she prioritizes feelings above aesthetics, or what people feel a woman should look like.
“My journey is less about what I look like and more about self-love and acceptance, focusing on my emotional well-being rather than always physical appearance,” she said. “I feel feminine when I’m all dressed up, hair down, ready to go out, but I also feel feminine when I’m at the gym, hair up in a bun, drenched in sweat powering through one final rep!”
Unfortunately, the fear of becoming too masculine, or the shaming of women taking up masculine activities or looks, isn’t a new phenomenon. Society has for so long dictated strict gender roles that say men are always strong, thus women must be dainty. But as these roles shift and adapt, so do the feelings about them. That doesn’t mean there isn’t still a ways to go, though.
The public has consistently ridiculed one of the greatest female athletes, tennis champion Serena Williams, for her muscular physique. She stood up for herself most recently in a letter to her mother, Oracene Price, where she praised her for watching the body shaming with grace.
“I just work hard and I was born with this badass body and proud of it,” Williams wrote. “I am proud we were able to show them what some women look like. We don’t all look the same. We are curvy, strong, muscular, tall, small — just to name a few. And all the same: We are women and proud!”
Thanks to women like Williams and Parker, women and men alike can come to realize that muscular doesn’t always have to mean manly, and vice versa.
“I always find it interesting how others define what being a woman or being feminine should or shouldn’t be,” said Parker. “I want people to understand that being feminine is whatever you define it to be. And it should be what makes you feel good, strong, or sexy.”
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