Hey everyone <3 I started writing a column for a German magazine called "Handelsblatt" some time ago and decided to translate the columns into English & publish them up here! Tell me if you want me to continue doing this down below! xx
So, I’m sure by now everyone has heard of the fitness community’s new favorite motto „strong is the new skinny“. It basically means that it is now „in“ to be as fit and strong as possible and to have visible muscles even as a woman. Which is great - as you all probably know I myself train at the gym 4-5 times a week and my ultimate goal is to be strong, fit and healthy. If you’ve been following me you might also know that my recently published book has the title „Strong and Beautiful“ - and that is still what I want to put across to my community. It is good to be strong and no woman should ever be scared of working out and gaining ‚too much muscle‘. However, there are still a lot of negative connotations going around when it comes to „strong is the new skinny“.
For a long time it was considered the ideal of beauty to be as skinny as possible. The trend was „size zero“ - and women tried hard to look like the supermodels you see on the catwalk or on the cover of magazines. The skinnier, the better. Within the last years „size zero“ has slowly given away to a new trend. Women today aren't trying to be as thin as possible anymore - they are striving to be fit, strong and even muscular. Being active, feeling strong, eating lots of healthy food instead of starving yourself in order to be certain size - that’s basically what „strong is the new skinny“ is trying to promote.
First of all I want to say that I do consider the new trend to be a positive development when it comes to beauty standards and body image. „Strong is the new skinny“ stands for a healthy lifestyle - if you strive to become strong and fit you will automatically have to include being active and eating well into your routine. Living an active lifestyle and eating well, working hard to reach certain athletic goals and to get stronger - there’s certainly nothing bad about that. Quite the contrary, it is scientifically proven that a healthy, balanced diet and an active lifestyle improve overall health and quality of life. Working out regularly and seeing you own progress can make you more confident and help with body-image issues. Many women, myself included, have profited from the „strong is the new skinny trend“. It has made them (and me) happier and more confident.
There is however an powerful argument against „strong is the new skinny“, something that is very often used by its critics. Many are saying that the former „size zero“ beauty standard has simply been replaced by a new standard - only that standard isn’t to be as thin as possible anymore, but to be as fit as possible. So, is there even a difference between „size zero" and „strong is the new skinny“? Don't they both describe ideals of beauty that women have to follow in order to feel beautiful and valuable?
In my opinion that is exactly what „strong is the new skinny“ shouldn’t do. No one should ever feel like they aren’t beautiful or worthy if they don’t look like a certain ideal that is portrayed in the media, on magazine covers or on social media. Doesn’t matter if the ideal is to be thin or to be strong. Of course - I definitely consider „strong is the new skinny“ to be the healthier trend, compared to starving yourself down to a certain clothing size. But still - it shouldn’t be a must, you should never ever feel like you aren’t good enough just because you don’t fall in to a certain category. In my eyes, the most important thing is to be happy and content with the way you live your life and the way you feel in your own body.Some people might achieve that feeling of happiness, self-confidence and content through working out and living a healthy life. And some don’t. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you chose to live your life - as long as you are happy and you feel comfortable in your own skin. Whether you’re a gym-fanatic who loves clean eating or you prefer not to work out and would rather carry a few more kilos - as long as you’re happy and content with yourself and your lifestyle, there’s no right or wrong.
And, on a sidenote: being strong can mean something different to everyone. You don’t need a sixpack to feel strong and you don’t have to be able to lift 60kg. You can feel strong in so many ways. Maybe you went running this morning and you noticed a little more endurance than the last time you tried. Maybe you’re finally able to carry your shopping up the stairs in one go. Or maybe you’ve finally overcome your fear to train in the „mens section“ at the gym (you know, where they usually lift the heavy weights). Feeling strong can also mean feeling comfortable within your body in a whole new way that you never knew before. There’s so much positive potential that can come from a trend like „strong is the new skinny“. The idea shouldn’t be to put women down and tell them what they should look like. But rather to show people that it’s a beautiful thing to feel good and strong within your body - regardless of the newest trend or beauty standard. How you achieve that feeling is totally up to you.
For me personally, working out is what gives me that feeling of content. I chose this path in order to feel comfortable in my skin. I like the self-confidence it has brought me, and I love feeling strong, building muscle and being able to lift a lot. And that is exactly what I want to share: that working out is a way to feel happier and more confident. It’s certainly not the only way - but it’s the path that I chose and that I’m passionate about. Still, we all have our own paths. What’s right for me might not work for everyone - and that’s okay. I love the fact that trends like „strong is the new skinny“ promote an active lifestyle - but that still doesn’t make it a necessity. At the end of the day you should follow the path that is right for you.