Friday, August 10, 2012

"Strong Is The New Beautiful"


I hear tell that "Strong is the new beautiful."  The media put out the decree sometime after the women gymnasts on Team USA landed the coveted all-around and team gold medals in the Summer Olympics about to come to a close.  Apparently, young girls all over the world want to grow up to be athletic, proud, and, yes, strong.
     Don't get me wrong:  I'm all for celebrating women's strength on the athletic field and off.  But I'm a bit miffed that this apparent transformation took so darn long and, alas, missed a lot of us in the process.
     Back in the day, it wasn't beautiful for women to build muscles, slide across gym floors, or sweat.  Sure, there were girls' sports teams, and I was on several of them.  But no one except a few parents and siblings ever showed up to cheer.  The female gym teacher -- in my case, Miss "D" -- played the role of coach, trainer, and biggest fan all rolled into one.  She may have been strong, but no one thought she was beautiful.  Rumor was she was "butch," but we didn't have a clue what that meant.
     We never heard from weights.  A six pack was the booze our boyfriends bought illegally on the weekends. Still, we swooned when they flexed their biceps or showed off a ripped, twitching chest.  For our part, we wore panty girdles to hide any signs of bulging beef.  Even when we were older and joined a local Vic Tanny, we made it absolutely clear that we didn't want too many muscles to make us look like men.

     Flash forward several decades to 2012.  The Year of the Woman at the Olympics in which, for the first time in history, every country has at least one female athlete.  There are, in fact, more female competitors on Team USA than male.  While the men have won their share of medals, the women have won nearly twice as many.  And there is still a day to go.
     So, all you men out there that like your women soft and cuddly.  Strong is the new beautiful, and you may just be out of luck.


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