Though we may be in a more fitness conscious world, one thing that women still seem to be fighting with is having muscle on their body. I think about this being a female athlete myself. Body image for a female athlete is very complicated I’ve come to realize when talking to young ladies about their body, lifting for sports and just image in general in a generation that is obsessed with they way we present ourselves. I love my body, but it took me awhile to feel that way. I started thinking about this again recently after having a conversation with my younger sister. I never really go to talk to anyone about my body as an athlete but she came to me talking about a pool party. She was telling me that she did not want to go because all the other girls would be super skinny and since she has very athletic build she didn’t feel comfortable and if there are pictures taken, which there probably will then forget about it. I had to sit her down and explain to her that her body is beautiful and that being stick thin doesn't make someone beautiful either. This conversation had me think about other female athletes and if they endure the same kind of thing, and discussing it with other Division 1 female athletes, they went through a similar phase.
I help out at an athletic camp and I would always ask my female athletes from ages 13 - 17 if they feared the weight room. Often times I would get at least several ladies say that they were and I would ask why. Their responses vary but typically I received from several female athletes from each group we would bring in that that don’t want to get too muscular because it’ll make them look boyish. As times have altered a bit, I noticed a small difference after the 2016 Olympics with many powerful females in all realms being recognized for their accomplishments, the number of female athletes in that age range to say that they were scared of the weight room began to deplete a bit more and more each week. I asked why they thought lifting was important and many answers arose, but in general, they realized it was important for them to be strong in order to perform. I can’t help but smile because at least our female athletes are understanding the importance of being strong, but then they go back out into social settings. It is when they are off the court, the field and the track that they are being judged. When they are just being them. We need to stop making our female athletes feel as if they do not look right because they have muscle. Femininity can evolve to having women with muscle. Women with power, because that’s the next step. We can no longer degrade young female athletes for how they are built or continue to build themselves, we should be supporting them. So next time you have something to say about “that athletic girl in that dress.” Think again. Stop having it be shocking to see a female with muscle because we are strong and will continue to get better on and off the field. So my athletic females out there, love your body.Be proud of those beefy arms, powerful thighs and strong backs. Do not be ashamed of your talent or the body that comes with that because you were gifted with something different. Whether you were naturally made that way or worked to get there, you are a strong and powerful woman so walk with your head held high.