Fit Is A Female Problem

By Kelsie P.

In today’s society, women are still facing a number of injustices, including treatment within the fitness industry. ‘Fit’ women are painted to have slim figures, doused with makeup and their hair done just so, with little to no clothing on. Although this may be the norm for some, for many active women this depiction has no relation to their personal experience. Women are told to be skinny, but not TOO skinny – to work on muscle tone, but don’t become TOO bulky – be strong, but NOT STRONGER than the MEN – and numerous other contradictory idealisms set out by the media. Ladies face inequality not only in the expectations of their physiques and physical abilities, but in the funding, sponsorship and coverage of professional women athletes/teams. The struggle to find a professional women’s match or competition is endless, and if you do happen to stumble upon the rare channel providing the airtime, you can be certain the athlete’s competing are being paid a small fraction of their male counterparts’ salary.

CrossFit is constantly under scrutiny in the media about one thing or another. Amongst the hate and ‘short comings’ people love to find about the sport, the positive promotion of strong women and gender equality tends to become lost. CrossFit exemplifies the respect and proper treatment that should be given to women in sport and how competitions should be carried out, considering the time we live in.

CrossFit embraces the saying ‘strong is beautiful’ to the fullest. Marketing around females in the sport, both professional and amateur, focus on the abilities of the athletes as opposed to their overall aesthetic. Unfortunately, due to the negative conditioning thrust upon females at a young age, women are constantly underestimating what they can achieve physically. In this sport, there is no fear of women becoming ‘too strong’ and are encouraged to explore the lengths to which their bodies can carry them. Instead of promoting what a women looks like, CrossFit takes the angle of ‘look at what this body can do’. Sure, confidence can stem from how a person perceives their attractiveness, but confidence through achieving something through hard work and perseverance is that much more meaningful. An ‘ideal body’ may not be able to do a muscle up or snatch 130 pounds, but a strong, confident and healthy woman can. Once a woman buys into the idea that their bodies aren’t limited to vanity, they become vessels for unlimited fitness potential. They become less concerned with obtaining a certain shape, and more concerned with becoming as fit as they can be. (How CrossFit Might Be Promoting Gender Equality, 2015) Women CrossFit athletes, who are sponsored by companies in addition to CrossFit HQ, like Nike and Reebok, are often depicted doing sports specific movements and showing off their muscles. When these female athletes are interviewed, the focus of the questions rarely strays from the scope of the sport, leaving questions about relationships and clothing preferences left behind.

CrossFit doesn’t adhere to norms that have been established in the sporting world. CrossFit is a considerably new sport, gaining popularity by the day, meaning it has a clean slate to promote equality and turn their cheek to sexist ways. This can be shown as a primary example through the proceedings of the CrossFit games. This past July, the 10th annual CrossFit Games took place in Carson, California and displayed numerous efforts and aspects of gender impartiality throughout. In this competition, both mens’ and womens’ events were given equal broadcast airtime. Both genders, in the individual event, were awarded the same amount of prize money for the ‘Fittest Man on Earth’ and ‘Fittest Woman on Earth’; as well as those placing within the top 10 respectively (amount decreasing with position). Men and women were challenged with the exact same workouts and got to compete within the same arena, in front of well-mixed crowd. In the team event, each team consisted of 2 men and 2 women joining forces to compete co-ed. Additionally, the event commenters, media team, judges and coaches involved a proportionately blended population of both genders. (Is CrossFit Games Coverage Sexist?, 2013) The examples explored above are virtually unheard of in the sports broadcast/organizational industry outside of the up and coming sport of CrossFit.

Katrin Davidsdottir, ‘Fittest Woman on Earth’ for the consecutive 2015/2016 CrossFit Games, perfectly summarizes what the sport of CrossFit is about through saying,

In CrossFit, both men and women are told they can do anything. You want to achieve a muscle up? You can. You want to set a personal record with your back squats? Go for it. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, it matters what you’re made of. We’re all athletes competing in the same sport, with the same goal: To become stronger, healthier and better people.” (Davidsdottir, 2016)

CrossFit is a sport where women and men are revered equally and females are valued for their ability, not appearance. The sporting world, as well as the professional/everyday world, should take lead from CrossFit and learn what it means to eliminate discrimination and promote women in a positive way.

Sources:

Davidsdottir, K. (2016, April 6). What CrossFit Can Teach Pro Sports About Gender
Equality. Retrieved January 30, 2017, from
http://motto.time.com/4279643/women-soccer-gender-discrimination-
crossfit/

How CrossFit Might Be Promoting Gender Equality. (2015, August 05). Retrieved
January 30, 2017, from
https://socialjusticetoronto.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/how-crossfit-
might-be-promoting-gender-equality/

Is CrossFit Games Coverage Sexist? (2013, July 31). Retrieved January 30, 2017,
from https://musclesonalady.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/is-crossfit-
games-coverage-sexist/

 

 

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4 responses

  1. This is such a great post Kelsie! I don’t really know much about CrossFit, other than seeing the branding, and I have never watched the CrossFit Games before, so this was super interesting. I like how you point out about the “ideal” woman’s body, and how that might be aesthetically pleasing, but our bodies are meant for so much more than that, and how CrossFit is a space that allows and encourages this. People have more value than just their appearance and active and healthy looks different on everyone, and it isn’t a one size fits all concept; I love that CrossFit is embracing and respecting this.
    CrossFit sounds like a trailblazer in this era; awarding men and women with equal prizes, broadcasting time, coaches and having a balanced judging panel. Having men and women compete in the same competitions showcases what we are all capable of, and focuses on both genders strengths, rather than segregating based on our differences. There are many sports that could take even one aspect of this model and improve their sport, both for the participants and the viewers. I agree with your statements, and I think that CrossFit is promoting gender equality, which is a huge deal. Sports don’t have to be sexist.
    Once again, good job!

    Paige H

  2. Great post Kelsie! Reading your post I have learned a lot more about CrossFit and the community that surrounds it. You have touched on the fact that CrossFit is supportive of women’s strength and really empowers them. Hearing about your experiences with the activity, I am completely in agreement. I also believe that CrossFit plays an important role in women maintaining their identify with sport. A lot of women reach university and beyond and struggle to find an outlet for physical activity. CrossFit being being welcoming community for everyone allows for women who have not be able to be physically active to join. Women are able to connect with a like minded group of individuals to increase self esteem and self concept. This is so important because there are more opportunities for males to find a physical activities with a supportive environment than there are for women. By women having a place in such an empowering group, it will not only improve her overall health but will allow women to express themselves and socialize. This contributes to helping women meet their leisure needs. It’s important women identify with physical activity and have time for leisure. From the information you have provided, I believe that CrossFit is a community in which women can connect with these things.

    Meghan O

  3. Your post was very interesting. I used to be a part of a CrossFit gym, and it’s true how it’s not about looking feminine by wearing feminine clothing with your hair and makeup perfectly done. It’s about training to become the fittest version of yourself.
    For example, bodybuilding is essentially when you train every muscle in your body to be the biggest it possible can be and then you get up on stage to show how defined your muscles are. In most of these shows you can see how large men are compared to women. In one of Fred Mason’s classes he explained that women in the past were just as muscular as men. But as time went on, women began to be judged on how feminine they looked while still being muscular.
    This ties back to the lecture where we talked about constrains we face with gender roles. Being fit is something that we know is good for our health. However, with gender roles people have certain expectation in how people should look and act, especially when it comes to gender.

    Taylor. H

  4. Hi Kelsie!
    First of all congratulations on the awesome post, I am so excited that someone in the class is addressing Crossfit as it is something that I really enjoy. Second, my mom and I both belong to a fairly intense Crossfit gym. Our experiences are not unlike those you have already discussed, we found that the gym was extremely encouraging to females to pursue the same high intensity workouts as males. The gym is very inviting and something that I have is that while any gym is typically a male dominated environment, this gym is likely equally divided or even somewhat female dominated. I found that a vital contributing factor to this welcoming environment was the gender parity among the trainers at the gym. This particular gym values empowerment of all genders thought hiring expert trainers across the gender spectrum.
    I love Crossfit because it empowers women and facilitates a community of inclusivity for them within the sports domain. Crossfit creates an environment where a woman or man’s body does not have to look a certain way for them to be successful.

    Haley M.

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