Mina Farook a weightlifter and athlete explains why women need to build muscle. This is not for the purpose of a fitness trend or sudden leisure activity, rather for the improvement and maintenance of women’s health. As more information is being uncovered by biology and health science, there are more techniques to combat chronic illness and other health risks. Women should be physically active to have a high quality of health. Women on average live longer than men. Having longevity also increases the risk of getting age related diseases such as dementia or heart disease. Taking the necessary steps to preserve health can reduce risk factors. Mina Farook hopes that women building muscle will be the next beauty trend. To a degree it has, with crossfit and women’s involvement in sport at a record high. Farook gives a basic explanation of strength training and proceeds to give the benefits it gives in terms of health. Strength training can improve not only muscle and bone health, but protect the body at a cellular level.
The general definition of strength training as Farook explains involves using resistance to induce muscular contraction. This results in the building of strength, anaerobic endurance, and skeletal muscle. One misconception must be addressed. A persistent myth is that women’s bodies are not designed for strength and that such training is not for women. These ideas are false and based around the frailty myth. Women’s muscle cells are the same compared to men’s muscle cells. The difference is related to muscle fiber type, size, and endocrinology. Women could benefit more form strength training. Another myth is that women cannot not build muscle. This is incorrect as well. Muscular hypertrophy can be induced by weight training. Depending on diet and training method women can gain considerable size on relative to their skeletal frame.
Women’s bodies can respond to training stimuli. There has been a longtime stigma about women and exercise, which as been decreasing over the past decades. The old pseudoscientific convictions are being discredited about women’s physical abilities. Women can now enjoy the health and psychological benefits of physical activity. There is a possibility that strength training may be a good anti-aging technique. Besides the obvious health benefits there is also a paradigm shift that women go through in the fitness culture. Farook explains it best as “imagine a process of living that actually makes you super human.” She delineates further : “imagine a lifestyle that makes you better, stronger, and smarter and keeps on improving your personality.” As Farook articulated it is more than just working out to look a certain way rather, it is a transformation in mentality. Women just do not want to look strong they want to be stronger mentally and physically. There is a new found sense of self and confidence. This spreads to other areas of their lives.
There has been a new era of human history reached. Women are enjoying more power and living longer lives than ever before. There are still some areas, which women lag behind. There are nations in which gender disparities are wider. However, it is only a matter of time before these problems will be reduced. Reproductive rights and access to adequate healthcare are challenges facing women globally. There is a means of taking control of ones health. Women are becoming more active in sports and fitness. Strength training is no longer considered a male only activity. Women can lift weights, use kettle bells, and other exercise equipment.
It can be more than just a hobby or serious sports endeavor. There are enormous benefits that can improve and maintain health. Mina Farook only examined the benefits from the point of mitochondrial physiology, but it goes beyond that aspect. Keeping the skeletal, muscular, and circulatory systems healthy protects a person for chronic illnesses.
Mitochondria are essential to life. These organelles must take carbohydrates and fatty acids then break them down for energy production. This allows fro the generation of adenosine triphospahte. Mitochondria also have the ability to synthesize proteins for their own use. They are involved in the transcription process of both DNA and RNA. Ribonucleic acid then does transcription for amino acids. Amino acids are the components of proteins.
ATP has to transport chemical energy to allow for metabolism. ATP cannot be stored so this requires consistent production within mitochondria. This explains why mitochondria can take up to 25 % cell volume. Mitochondria are so important to biological function cells certain cells can have as many as 2500. The average cell can use up to 10 billion ATP a day. An average adult would needs 3.0 × 1025 ATP to be functional. The typical athlete would be using more considering their activity level would be higher compared to an average person. The athlete requires more, because the higher activity level demands it.
This is no simple feat, seeing as ATP has to be recycled from ADP close to a 1000 times a day. There could be close to 250 g of ATP present in the cell. This correlates to to at least 4.25 watts. When calculated that means a person can produce up to an estimated total of 1200 watts. Health is important even at the cellular level. Cytology does not only reveal the world of cells, it provides clues to the true nature of health and physiological function.
The mitochondria are vulnerable to nutrient deficiency. Toxins and oxidative damage are also responsible for health decline. There are nutrients that are necessary for ATP production. These include riboflavin , niacin, and CoQ10. Carnitine is required for fatty acid transport. These nutrients are part of the β-Oxidation of fats.
The citric cycle needs iron, magnesium, manganese, B1, B2, B3, lipotae, and cysteine. ECT has other requirements. CoQ10 must transport high energy electrons. Magnesium assists in the final phase of ATP production. Riboflavin complex II and NADH also contribute. If there is a long term deficiency or disorder with mitochondria, this can lead to chronic illnesses. Such disorders with mitochondria have been linked to dementia, autism, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Amytropic lateral sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome , and Alzheimer’s disease. Mitochondrial disorders have even been hypothesized to have links to migraines and early aging. It is possible that mitochondrial health can be the key to increased longevity. The body requires a certain level of exercise and a proper diet.
Weight training has the the ability to increase ATP production and the amount of mitochondria in the human body. Damaged mitochondria can be replaced when new ones emerge from training. High intensity training has even been found to improve muscular and mitochondrial function in people with Parkinson’s disease. Such a discovery will revolutionize medicine and health science. While some people have this knowledge, many do not act on it.
Busy schedules and certain obligations may get in the way of consistently exercising. Then lifestyle choices can effect health. The prevalence of high fat and sugar saturated foods combined with limited physical activity has caused an increase in health problems. Another problem is related to medical practice. Over prescribing medicines has created a level of dependency. The increase of opioid use occurred under medical professionals, using it as a cost effective method for pain medication to patients. As a result, a large portion of American citizens got addicted. The philosophy about treatment must change. Patients should not be loaded up on multiple medications. The goal should be to have a little as possible and change health habits. If there is no change in habits a person could end up taking multiple medications which could induce more health problems as the result of side effects. While some aliments require medication, others can be controlled through exercise. High cholesterol can be dealt with through this method, depending on its severity. Weight training is a simple way to avoid certain age related health conditions.
Bone health is critical more so for women. On average, women have lower bone density. Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bone mass is lost and does not produce enough to maintain a strong structure. Bones become weak and are susceptible to fracture. When women go through menopause, bone mass can decrease. If women have lower bone density then that means osteoporosis could be more severe for there bodies. While skeletal mass develops as a person goes from youth to adulthood, bone formation is higher. The problem is that this does not continue and the rate of bone formation and breakdown are now set at different rates. Lifting weights can also contribute to building bone mass.Women overtime could lose up to 35% of their bone mass. There are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of getting osteoporosis. This includes having a thin body type, smoking, having a sedentary life style, a low calcium diet, high caffeine, and alcohol intake. Family history is also a factor including race. White and Asian women may have a higher risk of osteoporosis.
The total mass of calcium decreases with age. This is why it is recommended that older women get at least 1,500 mg per day. Vitamin D is just as important as calcium. That is why low fat milk can be helpful,because it is Vitamin D fortified. Seeing as women have lower peak bone mass in terms of grams of calcium, it important to make load bearing exercises or simple jogging a part of a general health routine .
Having a healthy bone structure will allow an aging person to have more independence later in life. Senior citizens may not want to go to retirement communities or nursing homes. Some want to remain in their own homes, yet are not healthy enough to remain independent.
Women report having better body image and improved self -esteem form weightlifting . It also challenges gender stereotypes. For a longtime the female body has been associated with weakness or inferiority. Even though these ideas are falsehoods they persist. Body image conformity is constantly projected over media outlets. This causes in some women to have body image issues and it may result in psychological disorders. Anorexia and bulimia are more prevalent in women than in men. This could become a public health crisis if unchecked. Thankfully, there is change that has prevented such an event from happening. There has been the rise of a new body positive movement. It wants women who are larger to accept themselves and reject a single paradigm of beauty. This also needs to be extended to women with muscle. Even female athletes are criticized for being “too big.”
If women are becoming more powerful in other areas of life, why should they be denied the physical power of their body? There is no rational argument against women developing themselves physically. It may offend certain preferences or be repudiated by traditionalists, but there should be no reason they should be denied control of their bodies. There is the dated and conservative idea that women and muscles do not mix. Even the most liberal or people who consider themselves open minded either repudiate such a look or are apprehensive about it. It is time for society to realize that a woman is more than just her appearance. The double standards must be challenged. Strength is not a masculine or male only attribute. Women can be strong and they should not have to be vituperated for demonstrating it.
Women should also partake in the benefits of physical fitness. This is a dramatic statement and a very empowering one. Some third wave feminists use the term empowerment ad nauseum, but do not seem to put that into practice. Here women have taken that message literally and have made their bodies strong. Besides this benefit of improved self-esteem and more positive body image to can go beyond just mere health improvement.
Women are not physically safe in many societies around the world. Domestic violence, sexual assault, or physical abuse is directed at them. There is the false idea that men are the protectors of women, when it is more likely they will be their abusers. Women have absorbed this idea thinking they need a man to feel safe and for protection. The harsh reality is that their partner could end up being their abuser. This is why women need self-defense and physical strength. Having such precautions can contribute to reducing the problem of violence against women.
Women must learn to take control of their own security. One problem with the # Me Too Movement is that it does not emphasize an offensive approach. While institutional and legal changes can combat rampant sexual harassment and assault, this may not be enough. Part of being proactive is that women must learn physical skills and build the strength to properly execute them. Doing this will deter violence as well as more strict laws.
Self defense is important for women.
Having at least some strength will help women combat violence directed at them. Violence against women is a major public health crisis. There have been improvements in regards the rise of women’s shelters and rape crisis centers. However, these services are not evenly distributed throughout the world. There was a time in which the practice of wife beating was not considered a crime. Women in many societies were considered property and such violence was not considered criminal. There are still countries in the world that do not have domestic abuse laws. There are even some nations that want to reverse them. The Russian Federation decriminalized some domestic abuse laws. Women attempting to flee from violent abuse or protect themselves have a more difficult time in Russia. The push came from the Orthodox Church to change the laws. Normally, women are worse off in a traditionalist or religion based cultural atmosphere. Now more than ever is the time for women to understand they are responsible for their own protection. The legal system or government may not be there to provide protection against violence. Learning physical skills and building strength can ward off some of these attacks.
There is also the problem of the growing rate of obesity. This is no longer confined to the developed nations, but is spreading to developing nations. The prevalence of fast food and high sugar based diets has caused weight problems across the world.Sedentary lifestyles and limited physical activity have also contributed to this development. The United States and the United Kingdom may find themselves in a huge public health crisis if this is not addressed and if the healthcare systems are not functional. Combine with the fact that people will live longer and beyond the age of 65 this poses a financial and social problem. Relevant to women’s health, they would be more vulnerable to obesity due to their endocrine function. Naturally women have more body fat no matter what their physical fitness level is. Differences relative to metabolism are significant, because women burn less calories compared to men in a resting state. This would mean obesity could harm women more in comparison to men. If women have lower bone density, adding large amounts of weight to the skeletal frame could cause more severe joint issues. Obesity has been linked to cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Being active has long term benefits. It can prevent such diseases and disorders that occur later in life. Women on average live longer than men, so it is a wise investment. Most importantly it will prevent possible strain on healthcare systems and improve the level of public health.
Penpraghai Tiangngok was the subject of a BBC report in 2017. To fans of female bodybuilding this athlete is familiar and is known better as Fon in her video work as well as competition appearances . This was significant because women athletes, especially ones in subculture like sports do not get much coverage in mainstream outlets. Female bodybuilders and muscular women in general are not presented positively by the mainstream press. This report is different and at times seems to laud her accomplishments. Tiangngok is the first Southeast Asian woman to compete in the Olympia, one of the most prestigious of all bodybuilding competitions. The report discusses the struggles Penpraghai has being the one of very few female bodybuilders living in Thailand. It is a cross section between sexism and subtle racism. Being a pioneer adds pressure when dispelling old stereotypes. The 100 women series spotlighted women making strides in various fields. The series wants to introduce readers to women who are inspirational and influential, while asking them questions related to the challenges women face in the 21st century. This could range from the glass ceiling, sexual harassment, disparity in education, or sexism in sports. Penpraghai Tiangngok is the subject of women in a sport not widely embraced by Thai society.
Thailand is an Southeast Asian nation that for the past decades been in a state of political turbulence. Coups and political factionalism have been persistent problems including racism. Thailand has either been discriminatory to hill tribes or had xenophobic attitudes in regards to foreigners. Penpraghai stated that some Thais do not speak to her when returning home assuming she is Filipino or Brazilian. Ethnocentrism has been a growing problem with Thailand. Colorism is also an issue in numerous Asian nations in which lighter skin color is preferred to darker skin.
Although being mistaken for another racial or ethnic group is not an act of racism, the behavior is an indication. Penpraghai being treated differently demonstrates that there is an racial or foreigner related bias. There is much disunity among Asian nations with ethnic and political problems dividing them. Exposure to different types of people can challenge prejudicial attitudes. Penpraghi even states that ” when foreigners look at me they just go wow.” This could either be a voice of approval or possibly more prejudice based. Westerners may have the racist stereotypes embedded in their minds of weak and helpless Asian woman, dragon ladies, tiger mothers, model minorities, or china dolls. When people do not fit in either of these racially prejudiced categories this creates a shock to the observer. Penpraghai Tiangngok’s rise or appearance should not be a shock. Asian women are becoming more involved in sports and fitness. Women becoming more involved in sports is a global phenomenon. Women from around the world are competing in various sports and have more visibility in the Olympics. This is a positive development which challenges some of the racist stereotypes that are common in media.
The status of Thai women has been for the most part based on a traditionalist domestic family role. Thai women were raised to be either wives or mothers in the past and their legal status was not equal to men. Polygamy was practiced in Thailand and women did not have many educational opportunities. The major change came with the revolution of 1932 in which the government was transformed into a constitutional monarchy. The new constitution gave women more rights and called for the end of polygamy. Plaek Phibunsongkhram the third prime minister of Thailand made it policy to raise the status of women. He served from 1938 to 1944 and again from 1948 to 1957. Since that period women’s status has improved, but there are still conservative attitudes. Women still are underrepresented in government. There are some advancements in the workplace. Knowing the history of sexist discrimination explains why Penpraghai Tiangngok’s statement ” they are surprised of how big I am and think I look transgender.” There are some Thais that cannot accept that women are no longer following traditional gender roles. Objections do not only come from men, but also other women. Penpraghai also explains “there weren’t many women lifting weights [at the time I started], but nowadays you have both men and women.” She delineates further : “In the past, female bodybuilders looked strange in the eyes of Thai women.” There is a double standard women no matter which country they are from face when becoming physically active.
There are some nations in which the stigma is worse. Although there objections in Western countries, there are very few statements saying women should not be allowed to do such an activity. Penpraghai says that people in her home town of Pattaya consider her to be a “freak” and claimed when she “goes to market , I get different looks.” Sadly many are not open minded about women looking different or not following the cultural status quo. Women are taking on new roles and Thailand. They are becoming involved in the workforce due to an expanding private sector and even entrepreneurs. Penpraghai is also an owner of a gym and a personal trainer. Women being this independent was no possible 80 years ago. Thailand even had its first Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, but was removed by a coup and court decision. Although her actions were legally questionable, it is apparent that she will not be treated fairly in the current political climate. She is currently in exile and this was another demonstration of how transfers of power and political stability eludes Thailand. The women who are active in various sectors can be role models to young girls to make effective change.
What holds the nations back in the Global South is not allowing women to contribute to society both economically and in leadership roles. If a country wants to be competitive in the modern post-industrial world, they must have women part of their workforce and in the public sphere. Women should enter fields and activities that are male dominated. Overtime, there may be at least some sex balance in such fields. The most important part of this process is that attitudes must change. The idea that women only serve a domestic function must be discarded.
The BBC report does not exclude the controversial subjects such as steroids, but did not mention others about the bodybuilding subculture . Acquiring steroids in Thailand is easier compared to other countries. The Thai press reported that Penpraghai Tiangngok had been arrested for selling steroids. She was contacted by a Thai police officer who asked her to bring them to a bus stop. Penpraghai Tiangngok was selling them and did say she was not authorized to do so. Bodybuilding gets a reputation for steroid use, but it can be found in various sports from baseball, soccer, and competitors in the Olympics. Penpraghai Tiangngok told the BBC that drugs do not create champions : “many people ask me whether or not I use steroids.” She then continues ” I ask them why they don’t ask me how I train or how many hours I work out… I want others to know that using steroids doesn’t help you to get bigger.” Steroids may cause better recovery and some muscle gain, yet ultimately it is related to workout intensity, exercise regimen, and diet. The unfortunate part is some have such limited knowledge they automatically think that a person who is muscular must be using. Drugs are a part of sports, but that does not mean every athlete is using them. Many fans do not even care what an athlete uses, yet there still is controversy. One controversy that the BBC report ignores is the practice of muscle worship. This is even bigger than the topic of performance enhancing drugs.
Bodybuilders, physique athletes, figure and fitness models have been known to do sessions. This was not mentioned by the BBC report probably because it is the more secretive element of the female bodybuilding subculture.To an extent it was unknown to mainstream media, but has gotten more exposure with the rise of the internet as a popular entertainment medium. The public can be exposed to different people and cultures by a mere click of a button. A search on Google shows that there are more men into female muscle than previously thought. The exact number is not certain, but it may be increasing due to visibility over social media platforms and websites.
The muscular woman has become something that is in popular demand at least on the internet. Numerous athletes have their own websites and do photo shoots for others. This may get criticism from the more conservative elements of society. While a muscular female body can generate controversy, there is also the debate about the nature of these photographs and video materials. Some make the claim that fitness is becoming borderline pornographic. Such claims are spurious. Female athletes posing for photos is no different from models posing for ads or appearing on television. Whether it is film, TV, or other mediums from time to time sexuality does appear or at least a particular innuendo is implied. Women should not be criticized for posing or being in videos. Bodybuilding is a sport in which the body is assessed for certain criteria related to aesthetics. Penpraghai Tiangngok is a representative for Thailand in the bodybuilding sports. Sometimes having the image present can inspire other women to follow a certain path. It is important that women of other nations have a presence in various activities to encourage wider participation. Thai women are already making progress in business and education. Penpraghai Tiangngok ‘s rise in the sport’s ranks just proves Thai women can advance, doubtless of wider societal bias.
It seems that once more body ideals of attractiveness are changing. The study that was conducted by Frances Bozsik of the University of Missouri-Kansas demonstrated how media can change particular perspectives and attitudes. This study just examines the United States and does not explore other parts of the world. The results were published in Springer’s journal Sex Roles. What the team did was examine Miss USA pageant contestant photographs and documented the change overtime. Undergraduate students were selected to rate and look at the photographs. The collection were photographs between the years of 1999 to 2013. Based on the study it seems that the contestants became more fit with bigger muscle definition. The 64 graduate students in the study were shown photographs of that were identical. The only difference was one had a thin body displayed and a more muscular one. They were show the images separately and then together. The more fit woman in the photos were rated as more attractive. The study however did not ask what the subjects’ body ideals or preferences were. This could have distorted the study. This does not mean that the muscular body type or a thin body is an ultimate ideal, but men’s preferences are vast and more extensive in terms of activeness. The study seems to indirectly prove how images and media can control an individual’s perceptions and attitudes. Social media may explain the rise of a more powerful female physique becoming mainstream. Beauty as demonstrated by the study is not one concept, but can vary depending on culture and personal preference.
The 64 subjects used in the study should have been surveyed about their ideal female body type. If most of the men in the study had a preference for muscular women that would obviously distort the results produced. These men would probably rate muscular women higher just because of preference.
It should be no surprise that there are men who like not just women are are in shape, but display a huge amount of muscular development. Then it is problematic with the use of the term toned. This term is not always lucid. The photos shown as “toned and thin” almost seem like a contradictory statement. Tone used in this context implies some muscle definition. This raises some other interesting questions. They used beauty pageant contestants, but what if the study employed some photographs of female bodybuilders or larger women. This could have cased another split in the survey.
Thin woman compared to a slightly athletic woman
A larger woman compared to a slightly more muscular woman.
The highest degree of development
The study does not explain which level of muscularity is preferred on women. If this was to be investigated further one could conduct a study of women of multiple body types. There are also limitations in terms of the survey size. The number of men and women should be equal, but large enough to make a more precise assessment. There were 78 women who looked at the photographs. It should also be considered the differences in men and women’s reasoning for ratings. Women may rate certain women higher,because they either see something they want to emulate. It may not be an indication of the attractiveness of a body ideal, rather a physical fitness inspiration. Men’s ratings may also be a little more complex. There may be a factor of amusement simply because women of a certain physicality they do not see in their daily lives. The high rating may be one of respect, rather than an admission of attractiveness. There may be admiration for someone who accomplished such athletic feats, but it may not be in line with their personal concept of aesthetics. To be through, surveys should have been conducted afterward to find out why participants picked the body type they did.
The beauty pageant contestants have gotten bigger compared to the past. It seems fitness has influenced body ideals. Bodybuilding culture has spread. It seems that beauty pageant contestants are adopting training methods of the fitness and figure class more so.
The main reason could be is that they were exposed to images of strong women prior to the study. The internet and social media platforms are responsible for this rise. This was only over a fifteen year time span, which was relatively short. This survey should be done once more with more men and women. If the results are the same then it is definite that there has been some form of paradigm shift in the attitudes regarding women’s bodies.
The study notes the rise of the concept of fitspiration. This neologism refers to a culture that embraces fitness and exercise, but also encourages others to follow by example. What makes this subculture unique is that it is mostly women participating in larger numbers, but it is getting exposure through mainstream sources such as social media. The concept of exercise and fitness being a hobby or a pastime is nothing new. The difference now is that women are becoming a major part of this movement. The reason women are a big part of this fitness movement is because there are now more female athletes that are visible. Title IX encouraged women for decades to be involved in sports . There also is a global movement in which women are becoming a presence at the Olympics. This was almost unimaginable 100 years ago.
There is a female fitness culture that has supporters and detractors. A schism has emerged in this movement about purpose and objectives. Supporters claim it helps build confidence in a society that attempts to make women feel bad about themselves. Detractors say that it is an obsession with appearance and should be focused on health. The more vociferous objections come from sexist who believe it is not gender appropriate for women to be engaging in fitness culture at all. These issues do need to be addressed. Fitspiration does not make the demand that every woman look fit. The dominant fitness magazines tend to market weigh loss rather than exercise to women. Obsessions with thinness come from mainstream media sources, not fitspiration. This fitness movement is small compared to the dominant mainstream culture. The problem is not women exercising or getting in shape it is sexual objectification that is projected in emphasis in appearance. The mainstream media presents only one image of beauty. Fitspiration is not attempting to present one image, but just to get women physically active. The sexist arguments normally follow the lines of that such physiques on women are unnatural. The reality is that humanity has the ability manipulate their own biology to a certain degree. They are not unnatural, because nature is changing. Human evolution is an example of how the body can change overtime.
Women who are of such physicality are not abnormal. It is just for so long there has been restrictions on what is appropriate for women. The difference now is that women are beginning to define what is beautiful on their own terms. There should be no confusion that women who embrace fitspiration are solely doing it for the purpose of appearance. Some are serious athletes improving their performance, others are women who are entering the fitness industry, or simply casual lifters. Some women have used this fitspiration movement to develop their business related to fitness. Women although large participants in fitness are largely excluded from the business aspect. Social media has allowed for women to promote themselves rather than going through the established corporate gatekeepers. If women’s sports do not get enough coverage on television social media and the internet can be as useful tool to challenge the disparity. It is not entirely clear whether this fitspiration subculture is a positive or negative development.
Social media has become an international phenomenon. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are used by billions of people. The internet and social media have contributed to the rise of the image of the muscular woman becoming more prevalent. Frances Bozsik even states :” These websites allow individuals to collect images of women with whom they identify or admire, essentially allowing them to cultivate their own media repertoire of highly salient thin and fit media.” A user can easily go to Pinterest or simply use Google to find images and other materials on muscular women. Prior to this, the only way to see one was to either go to a watch a sport or go to a gym. There was print media to a limited degree, but it is now more extensive with the internet’s global reach. Social media has power to influence people and ideas. Depending on how it is used, it can be a helpful tool in changing people’s attitudes. There seems to be a gradual acceptance of women with muscle and strength. Female athletes do receive huge amounts of traffic to their websites and social media.
Seeing as the mainstream entertainment platforms devote less time to women’s sports this helps athletes immensely. Women can manage their own image rather than being reliant of a public relations firm or corporate sponsor. Fans and supporters can interact with their favorite athlete and have access to enormous amounts of material. Video streaming sites like Youtube, Dailymotion, or Viemo give users access to women’s sports to a greater extent than television. Fans will no longer face frustration about not seeing a particular female athlete. The new entertainment medium of social media has become a positive development for women’s sports and the image of the physically strong woman in general.
There is also a negative dimension to the rise of this new medium. Cyber bullying and harassment have been too ubiquitous for many users of social media. There is also the issue of the rapid spread of false information. Relevant to the physically strong women they are subject to rude comments or ostracism from internet trolls. The anonymous nature of the internet emboldens sexists, racists, and the churlish to insult whoever without consequence. Many muscular women have reported that sometimes they do receive unwanted commentary to their faces, but not as often compared to an online setting. The comments are pretty much similar in thought from phrases like “she looks like a man” or “that’s too much for a woman” and voicing another insult of women being “disgusting.”
Everyone has the right to their own opinion,but that is not a license to insult or be exclusionary to people. The reasons for such reactions can vary. Some people may not be used to the idea of a muscular woman and do not know how to react. Some responses con from ignorance. The other type of commentary is out of jealousy. This mainly is from other women who do not like the idea some other women are getting attention. Instead of being introspective about such emotions they rather attack other people who they perceive as more successful. Men who are insecure may just attack women in general because they want to validate their masculinity. There is a strong feeling of threat that comes from women who are confident in themselves or are unique in some way. These same men would probably be threatened by women who are very educated or make more money than they do. A large portion of trolls are just hateful people who attack anyone who is different. The major problem is that many people still view women in terms of gender stereotypes and dated sex roles.
There has been an uneasy relation between women and exercise throughout the modern fitness culture. The attitude is that women should be physically active, but they should not develop themselves to the maximum. The notion that women can develop themselves to be “too much” seems ludicrous. One would not ask an artist to stop painting too many murals or an architect to stop constructing buildings. There are differences in what makes the most aesthetic physique, but there is room for all of them in the fitness culture. There is an obvious size bias. Female bodybuilders are sometimes ignored or repudiated by members of the fitness culture even when they were the harbingers to the women’s physical culture phenomenon of today. The women of the 1970s had a more difficult time with public stigma and misunderstanding. Women now have at least a slightly improved situation compared to the past. There has been progress, because for every negative comment there are more positive ones that can be seen on social media. There is also another dilemma with this. Sexual harassment directed at the women. Such commentary makes users feel uncomfortable and adds another challenge.
There is a difference between admiration and sexual objectification. A simple compliment would be welcomed. However, there should be a clear understanding why sexual advances or comments are not appropriate on social media . Thankfully, there are blocking features that can be used to counter harassment. Technology can be abused, but this can be avoided if it is utilized responsibly. Then there is the question of privacy. Some athletes may find that they have an online stalker. While there are complications that come with technological advancements, it has allowed the idea that women and strength are not two contradictory concepts.
This new image of female strength would not be as prevalent or influential without the contributions of social media and a vast global internet network. This has produced positive and negative effects.
It can be debated that simply the presence of various images produces body image dissatisfaction. It cannot be ignore that there is a strong pressure at least in the West for women to have a thinner body type. The fitness woman image has become a recent phenomenon. To say that women who see such images will automatically feel terrible does not have basis in fact. The real problem is what message the images are conveying to the consumers. Magazines directed at women focus excessively on weight loss or appearance. Bozik states ” This process of selecting preferred images and then narrowing the media focus by placing these images on their ‘boards’ may inadvertently increase the risk of developing higher levels of body dissatisfaction, as well as subsequent disordered-eating behaviors that are linked to it,” Looking at an image does not immediately lead to an eating disorder or psychological distress. Not all consumers will be susceptible to these issues. There are women who are more vulnerable : those with low self-esteem and easily pressured. The basis of mainstream consumption in a capitalist system is that it plays on consumers fears and insecurities. If society puts a huge amount of pressure to reach an ideal unattainable it will take some internal fortitude to resist. If there is a lack of confidence or low self-esteem then such psychological disorders can emerge. There has been a counter to this which has been the body positive movement. It seems odd that it favors women with curves, yet the physically fit women are not even part of the discussion.
Many times the same promoters of body positive movements will body shame women who are exceptionally fit. If one is against body shaming, then there should not be a reason to target fit and muscular women with negative criticism. There is also a problem with the body positive movement. It wants to replace on standard of beauty with another. Replacing paradigms is not the solution. The only way this will change is when women stop putting so much effort and energy into their appearance. While sexism is to blame for some of these attitudes, women are partially responsible. Fashion, make-up, and beauty products are commodities that women have control over. They profit from making other women feel awful about their appearance. Men are not solely to blame as many third wave feminists would want some to believe. Numerous times its other women who disparage other women’s appearance. The only solution is to teach young girls that they are more than their appearance. Society must learn to value women as people, rather than the misogynistic view of being sex objects. If such actions are not taken then no change will occur. That is why it is futile to stop using photoshop on magazine covers or promote plus size models. As long as the negative perceptions about women’s roles and worth are present there will always be a problem. A solution would not be to stop showing images of fit women.
The media does have the power to influence. However, it is too simplistic to say prevalence of the fit woman image is causing body dissatisfaction. Correlations between media consumption and extreme behavior are inconclusive. Video games are not the cause of extreme violence nor is television. They may be a factor, but that does not explain the phenomenon. Relevant to women in body image it is the message being conveyed is the issue. If one body type is presented as beautiful either directly or a subtle manner that is the root of the problem. If you favor one type over others this becomes an issue. Beauty can be both cultural and personal preference based.
Beauty and aesthetics vary from culture to culture. Some societies like bigger women others mostly in the West are focused on a slim body. The promotion of a particular aesthetic is a recent phenomenon. This rise of photography, advertisement, and visual media contributed to the promotion on single image of female beauty. TV and movies contributed to this and distorted the public’s thinking. What emerged was the notion that all women should look a certain way based on particular images from mass media. While women who do not follow the image are ostracized, men who find other paradigms of beauty are also subject to harsh criticism. There seems to be limited tolerance for men who have varieties of beauty concepts in regards to women. If the more voluptuous body type is being embraced, others should be embraced as well.
Some people enjoy curves or a more athletic type. There are a large portion that favor numerous paradigms of beauty. The reason this has become an issue is that it is related to sex roles and psychology. Body image is related to sex roles and psychology has become interested in the study of body image. The reason is related to methods of confronting mental disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. These conditions which are eating disorders or an obsession with weight disproportionately effect women. While men can have these mental disorders women are the majority in terms of diagnosis. Such disorders are products not only of a constant circulation of images.
The way people view the bodies of women are based on strict sex roles. These are normally restrictive and have sexist overtones. Women were once seen as the weaker sex. Their primary role in the traditional culture was to be mothers and caretakers of children. The medical view was in the past that the female body was naturally weak and its only purpose was for childbirth. The male body was the opposite a symbol of strength and power. When women gained more political and social power it spread to other areas. Women began to take control of their own bodies. This was not only done with reproductive rights and an emphasis on women’s health, but women participating sports. Now, after decades of Title IX women are enjoying the benefits of exercise and physical fitness in larger numbers. Women who became active also took their fitness a step further and developed their bodies to their physical maximum. Never before in human history have women reached this level of physical development. There were muscular women that existed in the past, but they did not have a competitive outlet. Nor did they have access to training facilities or an extensive knowledge of exercise physiology. Women who show great physical power and prowess are challenging strict gender roles. However, women themselves still struggle with the idea of muscle and strength. Even supporters are skeptical about the aesthetics. Women can be strong, but not too strong. There is a belief that too much muscle would compromise a woman’s femininity. Women are at this stage not afraid to show whatever muscularity level.
The most significant paradigm shift is that women who get involved in fitness culture are not there for appearance purposes. They become serious athletes. Crossfit and women’s increased participation in the Olympics has made an impact. Sports and fitness will no longer be the sole domain of men. Social media is becoming a more powerful tool to organize and market something to a global audience. There is a possibility that this is a mere trend which will fade away. Social media has a predilection for various sudden trends becoming more expansive with multiple hastags. This change in preference in terms of body type was occurring before social media’s appearance. When it was introduced to the public, this explains the surge in interest. User were sharing images and materials with other users. The study’s conclusion can be debatable. It is too early to saw that a strong female physique will become the new mainstream beauty paradigm. The image would have to expand into film, television, or other popular media. What is definite about the study is that people could have multiple preferences in terms of body ideals, even though society continues to promote one. The radical occurrence from this change comes from the women themselves. They are deciding what is beauty for themselves, rather than have it dictated by the wider society or mass media. Where ever this shift in beauty concepts goes, it is uncertain. What can be observed is that women’s mindset about fitness and exercise has changed.
Sport psychology is a field that uses the study of the mind to improve athletic performance. Athletic performance is not just physical; it is also mental. With the rise of numerous professional sports many teams have sports psychologists on their staff. The role of the sports psychologist is to get athletes motivated, contributing to practice sessions, and learning to control emotional states under extreme pressure. This is essential to any athlete competing at the highest levels in professional sports. Psychology is the scientific disciple that examines the human mind. This should not be confused with psychiatry, which is a medical field of study. Psychiatry takes the perspective that people can be treated for mental diseases and it can be cured. Psychiatrists hold medical degrees meaning they can be licensed to prescribe medicines and perform medical procedures. Both psychiatrists and some psychologists treat mental disorders. That is the only aspect of similarity. Psychology has a wider field of study which encompasses behavior and mental processes. Sports psychology is an example of applied science. This means it goes beyond mere research and is used to solve particular problems.
Sport psychologists could be involved in numerous elements. They could be examining and developing techniques to improve participation satisfaction or performance enhancement. This could also involve sharpening mental skills. Athletes may require counseling or clinical issues assistance. Athletes may deal with stress or negative emotions, which could effect how they play. A sports psychologist can help them manage issues or tribulations that might emerge. Sport psychologists can also assist in organizational elements of sports counseling. Sport psychologists may also study the social and developmental issues regarding sports participation. The sports psychologist applies their specialized knowledge to training and competition.
Sports psychologist must also know the technical elements of competition and have an understanding of sports organizations’ rules. Sport psychology thus becomes an important tool for coaches. Anxiety and stress are major hindrances to overall performance. This requires a set of mental skills and techniques to manage such emotions. They cannot be eliminated, but controlled for the period of competition. Coaching style and philosophy of game play can make a difference. Sports psychology employs a number of methods to solve rapid changes in emotional states.
There are methods that are used by sport psychology to increase performance. Cognitive skills and behavioral training are utilized in sessions. This includes goal setting. imagery, and performance planning. Goal setting is establishing what performance target an athlete wants to accomplish. Imagery and performance planning is the process and actions involved in reaching a particular objective. These techniques put emphasis on a pathway to success and the actions required to reach it. Cognitive and behavioral skills training also involves improvement of concentration. Having attention and a high level of alertness contributes to athlete awareness as well as response.
There are also confidence and esteem building techniques to deal with feelings of nervousness and self doubt. There is an emphasis on emotion regulation as well as developing sportsmanship and leadership skills. Competence building is also another aspect related to the behavioral- cognitive skills building. Counseling and clinical intervention is another part of sport psychology. Athletes may suffer from depression or phobia and require guidance. Then there are points in which burnout can arise or extreme lack of motivation. People who lose enthusiasm for something they are passionate about is not abnormal. This happens to writers, artists, filmmakers, or anyone with a high level of talent. Counseling can help with reminding individuals like these why they should continue and be dedicated to their passion. Counseling and clinical intervention also assists with injury and rehabilitation. When play sports professionally the risk of injury is high. Sport psychologists can help an athlete cope with returning to a healthy state. Medical professionals now understand that there is a mind and body link, which is important to overall health.
Counseling can assist athletes when transitioning to other careers. Major changes in life will take sometime in terms of acclimation. Athletes who choose another sport to compete in benefit from counseling to make such transitions less cumbersome. Athletes can suffer from the same mental illness that effects the majority of the population. A strong support system and attentive coaching can prevent mental distress. Sport psychologists also use consulting and training as a procedural technique. Team building becomes critical when working with multiple athletes. Team sports require cooperation and coordination on higher scales. This requires an understanding of group psychology and how to get individuals to function as one unit. A soccer team or a basketball team will not successful if all the players either are suspicious of one another or have difficulty collaborating.
The best teams are one that can function as a single unit and helping one another to success. Sports organizations also seek the advice of sports psychologists. Psychology has become interdisciplinary. Sports psychology also uses other academic fields such as kinseology, physiology, and biomechanics. The sciences are more connected to one another than previously thought. Neuroscience, biology, and anatomy contribute to psychology. As more is discovered about the human brain this requires multiple disciplines to decipher and interpret. Sport psychology has been applied to how youth sports are played and function. There are systems of intervention for both families and youth. Psychologically people change as they age and during youth it is a time of rapid development. Youth development follows in stages according to some psychological theories.
Children do not just go through physical maturation, but a cognitive one. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was the psychologist who pioneered the study of childhood cognitive development. According to development happens in developmental stages. The sensorimotor stage is the point in which an infant becomes acclimated to their five senses. This lasts to about age two. The next stage is the preoperational in which language is being learned and used. Children at this stage between the ages of two to six have not mastered logic or the understanding of other perspectives. The concrete operational stage between six and eleven years of age children gain the ability to reason. The last operational stage happens at age twelve results in abstract thinking. Piaget’s theories can be questioned however it seems that his model does accurately describe the cognitive development of children. A sport psychologist must take that into account when designing programs for youth sports. Coaches also may consult sport psychologists in methods and techniques in regards to motivating a team or developing talent of the athletes. Such methods make building an athletic team more sophisticated compared to the past.
Psychology has multiple branches and perspectives. Although it is a fairly recent science, psychology may have ancient roots. Philosophy was the first system of thought to investigate questions of the mind. Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates debated what was consciousness and the mind. African and Asian civilizations also investigated such questions. Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization were exploring concepts of medicine and the mind. Further east Buddhism and Yoga philosophies focused on consciousness and techniques of mastering the mind through meditation. African civilizations developed a folk psychology in which shamans would use certain therapies for various aliments that were both of mind and body.
Modern psychology gradually developed from ancient and modern philosophy. The sciences can trace its birth to philosophy. Many scientists of the past were known as natural philosophers. The rise of the scientific method and more advance mathematics gave birth to modern science. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) proposed the notion that the spiritual mind and the body were two distinct entities. Reflexes and sensations were not products of supernatural forces. Such activities were based on the nervous system. Psychology as the public knows it did not come into existence until the 19th century. Wilhelm Wundt working at the the University of Leipzig was the harbinger of experimental psychology. These early experiments into psychology conducted in 1879 studied perception, sensation, learning,consciousness, and memory. Since then psychology has expanded these elements.
The perspectives of psychology have different explanations for human behavior. The biological perspective seeks to uncover the mind by the study of genes, the nervous system, and endocrine system. Evolutionary perspectives normally fall under this category, but it can be paced under a separate classification. The cognitive perspective puts emphasis on mental processes such as learning,memory, perception and thinking. The psychodynamic explores the function of the unconscious. The behavioral perspective examines the role learned responses and the nature of human behavior. The developmental perspective realizes that an individual will change throughout a lifespan. The whole person perspective seeks to examine mental health and human potential. Trait and temperament are a focus which explores the attributes of personality and individual differences. The sociocultural perspective realizes that various groups behave in different ways based on the societies in which they live. While some theories have credibility, other can be questioned. The human mind and brain . is more complex than previously thought.
When discussing sports motivation and emotion are important to an athlete’s performance. The brain serves a major role in emotion. The amygdala a structure of the limbic system is responsible for a wide range of emotions. Athletes even are going through numerous emotions prior to and during competition. Emotions could fluctuate between joy, anxiety, or trepidation. The brain responds to external stimuli. The barin even reacts to different facial expressions. The physical reactions to emotions happen when the automatic nervous system activates. The energy level of the body can increase or decrease depending on the intensity level.
when discussing emotions this raises another question. Do people have the same emotions? There are obviously varieties of emotions . This depends on the environment, situation, and temperament of the person. Human populations either experience happiness, trepidation, or sorrow. These feelings are universal, which indicate that emotions and social behavior are evolutionary survival mechanisms.
Emotions and complex social behavior was probably a means of our early hominid ancestors adopting to dangerous environments of the prehistoric past. This may explain why humanity is also capable of nonverbal communication. Psychology also explores motivation and how it relates to behavior. The reason some may perform better during competition has to do in some manner with degree of motivation. Sports competition could either be defined as intrinsic motivation or extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is doing an activity for the enjoyment it produces. The reward or accomplishment is not the ultimate goal. Many athletes get a great satisfaction by simply just playing their sport and being active. Winning almost becomes an afterthought. This does not mean the competitive drive disappears. Extrinsic motivation is reward based. A person can be motivated more when a reward is possible for accomplishment. An athlete could be motivated by money, fame, and an enduring legacy in the sports world. Psychological motive is defined as the internal mechanism that selects and dictates behavior. Drive is separate entity because it is biologically based. Sport psychology does contribute to understanding the mental elements of performance, but it is still unclear how effective it is. More research and exploration is needed to reach full verification.
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Cherry, Kandra. Essentials of Psychology. New York : Fall River Press, 2010.
Hunt, Morgan. The Story of Psychology. New York : Anchor Books , 2007.