With the 2017 CrossFit Games just over a week away, as a fan, I’m super pumped to watch some of the worlds most amazing athletes throw down.
What I’m a little less excited for however, is the seemingly inevitable narrative that seems to makes its way into the conversation and hone in on women’s bodies…more so now than ever.
I get it, CrossFit does not exist in isolation from the cultural forces that shape how the media portrays women or women’s desires to look a certain way and to embody a certain kind of athletic aesthetic.
Here is the thing though, I thought this sport was supposed to be about making people feel strong and empowered about their bodies while emphasizing performance over physical appearance. But the message being sent is kind of a shitty one if you ask me.
What I hear, from the media, are constant remarks about women’s bodies. The comments aren’t explicitly negative, but I don’t feel like they are particularly positive either.
If I have to hear the commentators say “Alessandra Pichelli is one of the ‘bigger’ athletes on the floor, it’s amazing how well she moves through those gymnastics movements” one more god damn time, I might actually lose my shit. Like…I would pay all the money to be as “big” as her, the girl is jacked AF.
No woman wants to be referred to as a “bigger athlete”, even if they are in fact one of the bigger women on the floor. Like, why the fuck does it matter and why are we even talking about their appearance in the first place.
How about all the comments about how “lean” Katrin Daivdsdottir has become, and how much better she is now that she has dialled in her nutrition and is completely shredded. Ya know, I’m really looking forward to all the comments about how much leaner Brooke Wells and Kara Webb look this year and how they are completely different athletes because of it. False. I’m not looking forward to this at all in fact, ha. They looked great before, they look great now, their shit’s on point, end of conversation.
Don’t get me wrong, I think focussing on nutrition and a dedications to one’s diet is admirable and requires a lot of hard work which should be commended. I admire all these women and the many different shapes and sizes they come in, which is a reflection of the many years of hard work they have put in. But since when is it appropriate to focus so much on one’s physical appearance, or how much someone weighs. Hint: It’s not.
I get it, this is a semi-professional sport and these athletes are in the spotlight, but how about we keep the focus on what they can do rather than what they look like. Young girls are watching this, and constantly pointing to physical appearance is just a really shitty message to be sending. Like fuck, I’m a grown ass women and it even makes me feel shitty about myself when I hear the commentary. I find myself thinking, shoot, I’m a bigger “athlete” too, maybe I need to get leaner?
Ben Bergeron recently said in his podcast that women (both elite and general population) should be 15% body fat or less and ultimately they are looking for a level of leanness. How much they eat should be based on the size of the shirt that they wear?? Like…what in the actual fuck? I think it would take nothing short of a life-threatening wasting disease for me to ever attain 15% body fat. AND, even if I did get to that point, my genetic disposition would land me with skinny limbs, but still no visible six pack.
For years, people have been commenting on Camille’s body and how she is “soft”. Like, the girl can jerk 280#, lets stop worrying about the fact that she doesn’t always have a visible six-pack. I think whatever she is doing is working pretty damn well for her.
Ok. That was a long winded rant and I’m sorry for my aggression.
I realize that it’s not irrational, in a world where women are disproportionately rewarded for what we look like, rather than what we can do, to care about what these women’s bodies look like. I wake up everyday and worry about what my own body looks like, stress about what I’m putting into it, and struggle to look in the mirror and love what I see. 90% of the time it’s a losing battle.
Let’s also note that CrossFit isn’t just a community, it’s a business, and sex sells. Given the incredibly strong desire women have to look a certain way, it’s obvious that those desires explain some of the popularity of CrossFit.
BUT, next time you think of referring to a woman as a “BIGGER” athlete, how bout you just go ahead and pipe the fuck down.
Love #thebiggerathlete #changethenarrative