grumpy about lady bodies (thank goodness for women’s soccer)

How cool that the US women won the world cup?? Not that I’m super nationalistic, but every time women athletes get a lot of airplay, it’s good for our girls. Athletes don’t have chicken legs. Real women shouldn’t have chicken legs. Our little girls shouldn’t dream of having chicken legs.

Jesse and I recently watched a PBS show on the history of the ABT, the American Ballet Theater. We loved watching the incredible athleticism of classical dancers. They are ridiculously strong and flexible. They do things that are impossible, holding their legs out at angles that would land me in the hospital. The women, who are otherwise tiny, have relatively enormous calves and thighs. They could never be hired by a modern modeling agency. They don’t have chicken legs. Their muscles are real, not ‘scaped. I know the dance world has issues with asking its women to be too skinny, but at least it allows them to have real muscles. 

Watching the show reminded us of Misty Copeland, whose career Jesse and I have followed for a year or two. Now she’s the first black female principal at the ABT. Beautiful athleticism and artistry, sweet intense face, historical significance — what’s not to love?

Some time ago we watched the UnderArmour ad that she starred in.

Jesse was captivated by Misty’s musculature, her strength and balance, her determination, her story. One day recently, Jesse wanted to see that ad again so we went hunting on YouTube. We watched it, and then we looked for some different ads by UnderArmour. We found this one of tough female athletes working hard. They have big thick muscles where they’re needed. There’s nothing delicate about them. 

We continued our browsing and came across an UnderArmour ad with Giselle Bundchen.

Sigh. I know, I know. Don’t hate on models. But let’s face it. Giselle ain’t got the chops.  I mean, I’m sure she works hard, but her motivation is modeling. No matter how much screaming there is about it, modeling. is. not. an. athletic. venture. There is no air-brushing on an athletic field of play. 

The thing about athletes is, they come in all shapes and sizes, even within a particular sport. Think about Venus and Serena Williams – could two world-class athletes in a single sport be any more different physically? Who could ever claim that there’s an optimal body type for tennis after those two?

Models all have to be the same skinny and tall. What matters is appearance, not strength or speed or a particular physical skill or tactical sense. I’m not able to grasp how there’s even a debate about this. 

I tried not to say anything though, as the Giselle ad ran. And I was pleased by Jesse’s reaction. In the ad, Giselle takes some roundhouse kicks at a punching bag, and then she rapid-jabs it. Jesse, who’s actually shown real talent in tae kwon do, offered up a real-time critique as the ad ran. “Those are pretty bad roundhouse kicks, mom. How come she’s only taking one at a time? Why is she waiting so long between kicks? Is she supposed to be good? She doesn’t have good snap. Wow, those are bad punches. She looks weak. Why is she so sweaty?” Jesse was making “WTF?” faces. 

Sorry, Giselle, you’re not motivating my daughter. Women’s World Cup soccer? That’s some serious motivation! Speed, snap, strength, endurance, grit. Congratulations to all the women who played in the World Cup, and an extra congratulations to team USA. 

If you love athleticism and dream of a strong, healthy life for your daughters, and if you dream of a world where your daughters can market their strength instead of their skinny to potential mates (even if they happen to be skinny), check out these awesome photos of World Cup athletes and their muscle-ripped thighs.  http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/7732670

Awesome. As for underArmour, well… I’ve been a fan of their products since their beginning, but now I’m going to be looking around for a replacement. I guess they’re looking for another market niche, but I wish they would try to win that niche without turning to a runway model. They have the power to empower (and pay) real athletes in the sale of their athletic gear. I’m disappointed they moved in a different direction. 

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