14 February 2013

Healthy Style: Girls Don't Have Muscles

I was showing Bean No.2 old pictures on the computer yesterday. I showed him one of me, making a muscle. An old Instagram pic before I went fully un-anonymous, my face was obscured by my pink cell phone.

"Who's that?"

"I don't know."

"It's me."

He leaned in to the computer, unsure. It wasn't just the no-face shot that was giving him pause, I know. It was the muscles.

Then, I was getting The Beans ready for bed. I was still in my yoga pants and workout tank from my 6am yoga class.

So sue me.

I made a muscle in front of the mirror, as I (admittedly) am wont to do these days. I'm still fascinated by my new body. And I own that I walk around, checking myself out in the mirror. I own it. Because I still can't believe it.

"Look!" I showed them. "These are Mama's muscles."

They looked at me, bemused and laughing. I happen to be one of those lucky people whose muscles look like, well, muscles.

"You don't even look like a girl, Mama," The Bean declared.

It caught me by surprise, then I recovered, "Girls are very musclely."

We went on, brushing teeth and reading books.

Once they were asleep, it bubbled back up for me. It was beyond the typical, "girls are strong, too" thought and rhetoric. I wondered: "Do my kids know any musclely women?" Most of the female images they see, I wondered, do they show muscles?

A quick Google search today over my veggie burger at my desk, and, guess what? The images they see? Nope. Their visions of even the superheroines are certainly sleek and strong, even menacing, but there's nary a muscle in sight. If you venture into the, well, inappropriate versions of most of the female superheroes, there's more of, um, everything.

Michelle Pfeiffer, though not a heroine, as Catwoman, via; Batgirl, via; Storm, via; Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman, via. I mean really. She's an Amazon forchrissake. Where the heck are her muscles?

More thought, and even the Olympic skier with whom The Bean is absolutely infatuated, Krista Schmidinger, whom we met in real life, and whom we stalked into the bar after she coached Ski Liberty's racing team so we could give her a "letter" The Bean wrote her (completely of her own accord), while unequivicably an immensely strong woman, doesn't look muscled.

It's curious. It's worth thinking about.

But then again, I'm not worried. The Bean told me the other day that she doesn't like princesses anymore. "Why," I asked. We'd been obsessed with princesses for a while, as many 5 year old girls are. "Because they're always getting rescued," she responded.

I launched into gentle prodding about Disney's Rapunzel and The Princess and the Frog, and how they save the day in the end, not the princes. Even Snow White, I said, was strong in her own way. Backpedaling and such. These are the things Mamas do, sometimes.

"It's ok, Mama," she chirped. "I like Barbies now."

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