Sheri Stiles on Perceptions of Fit Women


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For those of you who know me, and as I am sure the rest of you can guess, I am a pretty strong, opinionated, and independent female; I always have been. Since as far back as I can remember,I have wanted to do things on my own – I wanted to be right alongside my dad and brothers doing the “boy” things. I do not believe women have to be viewed as weak, fragile creatures, nor do I believe we should be viewed as subservient to men (this does not mean I don’t believe we deserve respect, because everyone does).  I also do not believe a woman needs to make her choices based on how a man is going to perceive her—she should decide for herself what hobbies and interests make her happy.

With that being said, I am sure you can imagine my amusement and annoyance when men make these types of assumptions, or make ignorant comments regarding this topic.

For the purpose of staying on track, because I could argue this all day, I will share with you my latest experience with these types of comments from men regarding women in fitness.

I came across a picture on Facebook, the ones with those dumb captions under them, and as much as I despise many of those in general this one really brought out my annoyance.


So there you have it—a picture of a ‘fit’ women with the caption 2 lb. pink dumbbells didn’t build this body…put in some real work ladies!

Now, I say ‘fit’ because first off, everyone has their definition of what fit is. Does she look good? Yes. Am I sure she works her butt off? Yes. But, that is not what every women is going to strive to look like. This picture is no better of a portrayal of how women are ‘suppose’ to look than the Victoria Secret models.

Next, let’s look at the caption—what if 2 lb. pink dumbbells is all a woman has available to her, and every day she was working her butt off to exercise and feel better; basically we are saying her efforts are inadequate. Now, in order to really build muscle, yes you’re going to need more than 2 lbs.; however it’s insulting to say the work others might be doing isn’t “real work”. Also, I guarantee her diet is a major contributing factor to how she looks.

At this point, I was already a little worked up—we are sending the message that once again, your physical appearance dictates how much work a person is doing. Would she think I wasn’t doing “real work” because my body does not look like that?!—even though I can deadlift over 2.5 times my body weight, and squat over double?

Before some of you get worked up, I do understand the overall message of this picture–you have to lift heavy weights to gain muscle; I get that. But, the way we go about these simple messages can be shaming to women, or pushing feelings of inadequacy.

As you can guess, the comments on this picture brought me no more amusement:


Let’s take this one for example—although, he starts off promising by saying if that was the heaviest she could lift than it actually would be work; he then fails. Miserably! “Girls don’t look good all muscled up.” “over muscled women are not hot, fact.” Really, I’d love to see the research you have on that sir. Then my personal favorite: “I’m sure I speak for 90% of heterosexual men.”

Lord, where do I start with this!

Who is he to decide if women look good muscled up? Do we have some standard chart to help decided? And last time I checked, you had to have research to back up something as a “fact!”  Unfortunately dude, you are mistaken; this is your opinion, and although you’re entitled to it, that doesn’t make you right, or make this a fact. Nor do you have the authority to say you speak for 90% of men. I am sure they would be upset with you taking that individual right from them.

Although it saddens me to say I would clearly fall into the “too muscled up” category for this guy, and there goes my chances with 90% of the male population!

Here is another great male comment:


“Ladies who don’t want to look like men don’t need to put in real work.” So your fitness goals are just going to come to you without work? Seriously, what the heck have I been doing wrong—you mean I don’t have to actually lift the heavy weights?! He ALMOST saves it when he says anyone decides what they want to become. Then again, like the idiot before, shames himself. “What do you want to become a fit girl, or the female version of Franco Columbu?”

First off buddy—WE ALL HAVE TO PUT IN WORK. Do “fit girls” just wake up that way overnight? The best part of this is YOU wouldn’t date Franco—guess that means we need to fit YOUR idea of a “fit girl” or we are doomed of finding a man capable of dealing with a strong women with muscle.

The only part of this that’s right is anyone decides what they want to become. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is what I’ve heard before but that doesn’t mean I don’t think some beholders are wacko!

These comments and visualizations make up this idea that as women, we have to mold into this certain cutout, or we are going to be unhappy and looked down upon. This is BS! I am sorry, but I do not look the way I look or choose to powerlift so I can make any guy happy. I choose what makes ME happy, as I believe all women should. I choose to be strong, and have muscle—guess that means 90% of men will think I’m too “masculine”.

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