There’s a peculiarly particular balance of so-called feminine qualities that our society tends to tolerate. Women are supposed to be lean but not muscular; athletic but not defined; soft but never squishy. It’s a balance few of us are completely capable of achieving, whether it’s because of ability or simply genetics. I, for example, have learned in the past that no matter how much I exercise or change my diet or alter my habits, my figure will always look very hourglass-y simply because it’s built that way. I am not capable of looking “waifish” (a look I used to covet as a teenager), and that’s just fine. I would rather retain my normal frame while gaining more muscle, in fact.
Oddly enough, though, I’ve increasingly noticed there’s a very specific type of body snarking that revolves around muscular women. We all know that our society often fat shames people they deem overweight and sometimes body shame those declared too thin, but many men and women consider very muscular women to be “gross” or “unappealing.” I find this strange, since — while I don’t remotely condone it — fat and thin shamers tend to at least cite health as a typical reason for being assholes. When it comes to insulting muscular females, this logic makes no sense; typically, those women work out frequently and eat incredibly well in order to achieve the bodies they have. Why insult them?
Well, it goes back to that “balance” thing regarding our bodies. We’re “allowed” to be strong and toned, but give us some solid definition, and bam — suddenly females are not “feminine” enough anymore. They’re constantly accused of doing steroids or being men, which is both absurd and insulting. On television, ultra-muscular women are typically cast as transgender (which is by no means a negative identity, but most muscular women were not born men; plus, television tends to insult the transgender community through most of these plot lines, as well).
For this reason, I was really excited when I opened an email from MAC Cosmetics last week and spotted this advertisement inside featuring a very muscular woman in a non-ironic manner. The subject of the email was “Fearless Femininity, Powerful Colour” which I think worked wonderfully with this photograph. The model looks gorgeous, strong and feminine, and I’m so happy MAC acknowledged that this is not only possible, but also admirable.
The print of the ad says, “Strike a beautiful pose, stand out and redefine the notion of beauty…” So hats off to you, MAC Cosmetics, you folks did an amazing job creating an ad campaign that shows the beauty of a muscular female body in a complimentary, gorgeous way.
Photo: MAC Cosmetics