Biceps and triceps are apparently the new T&A.
Growing up, I felt as though I was just like all the other girls, but childhood pictures prove otherwise. For most grades, I was the only girl in my gym class that could do multiple pull-ups. I distinctly remember one time when I was doing pull-ups in gym class and after doing a couple, the entire class started to count them aloud. I was too embarrassed to continue as I had surpassed most of the boys in the rankings. Looking back now, I realize that I was practically born with defined arms. I don’t know who to thank for them, but my mom likes to take credit and swears that she once had arms like mine; the verdict is still out on that one.
I say that I’m thankful for these arms of mine because I’ve finally accepted the beauty in being a strong woman. I’ll readily admit that there are still times when I see a very thin, petite girl and I view myself as clunky and manly next to her, but those moments are fleeting. With my 5’2” frame, most people do view me as a small girl that happens to be very toned. I do think that I’m lucky in that I’m living in a time where high-intensity fitness routines like CrossFit and TRX are becoming popular. This fitness movement allows for women with muscular frames to feel empowered and view their bodies as strong and healthy as opposed to something to cover up or downplay.
It’s interesting to me that all of a sudden, my muscular arms are now almost fashionable. When I browse anything related to fitness on sites like Pinterest, there are countless images of toned women and it makes me feel as though as a society, we’re heading in the right direction. Our First Lady famously shows off her guns and it’s always praised. At the gym, I’m more inclined to pick up heavier weights and also to cross over that line in the lifting area where the men do the scary machines and the women solely do baby weights and ab work (we all know that imaginary line exists!). I feel good when I lift and no longer fear my arms getting bigger and stronger.
I do have to give credit to my current boyfriend who also dedicates a lot of time to fitness. I can’t speak for him, but as a male, I do think it’s somewhat intimidating to have a girlfriend with bigger than average arms. Despite this, he’s never told me to cut back on my workouts; it’s always been encouragement and support for me to get as strong and healthy as I am able to. I’ve had previous partners who were clearly uncomfortable with my build and neither knew how to respond to it nor appreciate it. I feel truly lucky to have someone who respects my build and can see the attractiveness of a woman with toned arms.
During my formative years, Venus and Serena Williams were the first women who represented strong, powerful women with a lot of junk in the trunk. This was the first time I had ever seen anything close to my body type represented in the media. I finally felt like my muscular physique and race were being represented in a positive way. Unfortunately, the Williams sisters caught a lot of heat for being so big and strong, some even questioned if they were truly women. Reading comments and digs about the Williams sisters were hurtful to someone who also had a little more muscle than she bargained for, but seeing them prevail and simply not care about what the haters had to say was inspirational. They dominated and continue to dominate their game and now that’s the only thing people can really talk about.
Even though some may think that having toned arms is nothing short of incredible luck (and genes), like anything else, if you’re the slightest bit different, you’re going to stick out and at times be made to feel uncomfortable in your own skin. I rock my arms proudly nowadays, but I still notice girls as well as guys staring at them as I walk around the city. I often wonder if they’re staring in abhor or envy, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter.
I do hope that my confidence shows other girls as well as grown women that it’s great to be strong. I also hope that the little girl in gym class pushes herself to do as many pull-ups as she physically can, even if it’s more than every single boy in her class.