Muscles are so (not) Scary

Written by Neghar Fonooni

Over the weekend I was relaxing at the pool with a Bloody Mary and a good book, and I overheard a group of girls talking about another girl.

YES I was at the pool. It’s Southern California, what can I say? Some days in “Autumn” it’s 80 degrees and sunny, and other days (like today) it’s cloudy and in the 50s.

This past weekend was of the 80 degree variety. So anyway, there I am at the pool, trying to soak up some much needed solitude and vitamin D, and I can’t help but hear most of the conversation going on between the girls on the chairs next to me.

They were discussing another girl they know who’s recently become a competitive bodybuilder. Apparently she’s gained quite a bit of muscle in the past few months, and the word they kept using was “scary.”

“She looks so scary.”

“She looked good before the gain phase, when she lost those 20 pounds–but now she’s just scary.”

Scary.

Can I tell you something? This shit really tripped me out. Like, are you really scared of this girl because she’s muscular? Because she’s chosen to have a different body type than what you find aesthetically pleasing?

You know what I find scary? Talking, murderous demon dolls, ghosts that pull you into the television, monsters that kill you in your dreams with knives for fingers, and creepy killer children that worship corn stalks and murder all the adults.

That’s scary.

And if we’re being a bit more serious, you know what else is actually scary? Gun violence. Terrorism. Murder. Disease. Natural disasters. Home invasion. I’m scared every single time my baby boy gets on a plane by himself to visit his dad across the country, but I’m not afraid of bodybuilding or muscular women.

Bodybuilding is not a source of fear–it’s a sport.

If it’s not “for you” that’s totally cool and completely acceptable (it’s actually not for me). You don’t have to want that for YOUR body and you don’t have to necessarily find it attractive–hey, we all have a different type!

But if you find that “scary” then I really don’t think we agree on what “scary” means.

Let’s be honest though, is this really about fear? Because to me, it seems like this is about ignorance. This is about mean gossip and women bashing other women. This is just…sad. The truth is, there’s enough negativity in this world without us needlessly adding to it with petty judgments, trash talk, and jealously.

To me, this is about the fact that it has become far too acceptable for humans to comment negatively on the state of other humans bodies. At the root of it, this isn’t about fear at all–it’s about body shaming, and all of the many packages it comes in these days.

I walked away from that experience not judging these women for their comments, but feeling inspired to spread more body positive energy into the world. And while I can’t put an end to body shaming, what I can do is encourage you to spread more body positive light in this world.

What I can do is ask you to keep encouraging the women in your life to love and honor their bodies, and inspire them to stand in their power by being a positive example of strength, authenticity, and grace. Give genuine compliments. Congratulate them on their success without feeling as though it steals from yours. Listen deeply and compassionately to their struggles and hold space for them. Hold sisterhood in your heart.

That’s what we can do together. We can stand together instead of trashing each other. We can use compassion and love over gossip, and curiosity over judgements. We might not be able to change the way the rest of the world judges women’s bodies, but we sure as hell can embrace sisterhood the world over, and stand in our collective power.