Does bodybuilding encourage us to fill the gaps?

Just a quick thought today, prompted by a post my friend Charlotte Ord wrote on her Facebook wall. She commented about the “thigh gap” craze which seems to be hashtagging its way across the status updates and photo-shares of social media. Not just women. Girls (young girls), too.

I share Char’s sadness and frustration about the thigh gap thing.

And it got me thinking, is this partly what I love about bodybuilding? The fact that bodybuilding actively encourages us to grow, to expand, to be more of ourselves not less? To celebrate taking up space, not shrinking away?

We’ve all heard “strong is the new skinny”, although I take issue with that, too, because I don’t think we need a new skinny at all (one is enough!)

The drive behind bodybuilding is to make more of yourself, to be more of yourself, to fill more of your space, rather than trying be as small as possible. No apologies for our bodies here. It’s more than OK to be a physical being.

So let’s take things further than “strong is the new skinny”. Let’s not look for thigh gaps. How about quad sweeps? Or whatever your favourite bit of your leg happens to be. But, here’s the catch: it has to be something which is there. It has to be a presence, not an absence. It has to be something you can see, not something you’re happy not to see.

No more “little lady”. No more thigh gaps.

What are your thoughts on the thigh gap thing? Does your sport and fitness training help you have a better body image?

Does bodybuilding encourage us to fill the gaps? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

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8 Responses to Does bodybuilding encourage us to fill the gaps?

  1. Tara says:

    Love this! It frustrates me when I see women everyone trying to be thin and take up less space. I love being big and constantly adding to my frame! Usually when I tell women I’m trying to make my butt or back bigger, they cannot for the life of them understand why. Once a woman starts lifting weights, she generally gets it and moves away from this horrendous thigh gap mentality.

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  2. Oh, how I wanted a thigh gap as a teenager. My friends told me that “fit” girls had them (y’know, as in “cor, she’s well fit.”) and indeed, I had friends who did. They were gorgeous, slim, popular, and got all the boys.
    I was 13 years old, slightly larger than my peers, but, on reflection, certainly not the hideous overweight creature my peers made me out to be. “Lacking sartorial elegance and in need of guidance when it came to personal grooming,” is perhaps the most diplomatic way of putting it. But if you tell someone often enough that they’re fat and ugly, they believe it, and “as I am such a hideous monster anyway, this extra sausage butty at break time won’t hurt…”
    I was never going to have a thigh gap. From a young age I walked everywhere as my dad worked away and my mum didn’t drive. I spent my weekends doing wall to wall dance classes. My quads and calves were larger than my peers. Obviously because I was such a colossal lardarse.
    Now, I squat, and I lift. I’ve lost a buttload of fat, and am trying to build a buttload of muscle. I’m not skinny. I never will be skinny. I will never have a thigh gap. The me who is sixteen years older and wiser is happy with this state of affairs, but my inner 13 year old looks at my thighs when I sit on the stairs with my knees bent and there is a gap there, and does a small dance of joy. And it’s not right that anyone should be made to feel like that by unrealistic expectations of body image.

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  3. I have such mixed feelings about bodybuilding, yes I agree it’s about building muscle and so taking up space but then the dieting that takes place in order to reach that level of leaness required for competition makes me wince. Bodybuilding, whilst not encouraging a thigh gap still encourages a physical ideal some might say is not exactly healthy. (One of the reasons I love your blog is that you seem to have the whole thing balanced out)

    I’ve always done some sort of resistance training but it wasn’t until I took up strongwoman training that I started to love my body for what it can do. Now when I don’t like my thighs because they wobble I think fuck that they can do farmers walk with 62.5kg in each hand and when I see my bingo wings I think fuck that they can log press 40kg for reps. I look in the mirror and see power and strength, and what other people see when they look at me is of no interest to me anymore.

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    • Nicola Joyce says:

      Thanks for the reply, Helen, and to be truthful I have a lot of those same concerns/thoughts about bodybuilding but either push them to the back of my mind (“to be dealt with later”!) or find my own ways to make peace with them

      I love strongman and strongwoman exactly for the reasons you give! πŸ˜€

      And thank you for the kind words about me seeming to have found balance… it’s a work in progress but it is something I do spend a lot of time working on (not just BB but life, the Universe and everything) so – thanks!

      I like that phrase “what anyone else thinks of me is none of my business” (or whatever the saying is)

      What people see when they look at you is no concern of yours πŸ˜‰

      Happy lifting! X

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  4. abhi says:

    Been sitting on the sidelines for a while, commenting for the first time, Nicola.

    I echo what Helen has said. Why must everything be about ‘loving your body AFTER it has been modified?’. Whether it is loving the bulked up thighs or the lean, straight ones that leave a gap in between? Whatever happened to loving our wobbly thighs, knock-kneed, bingo-winged selves as we are?

    Yours

    jellythighed-flatfooteed-bulbousbnosed me x

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    • Nicola Joyce says:

      Thank you for coming out of hiding πŸ™‚

      We have to love, accept and celebrate ourselves first and foremost, I completely agree.

      Welcome and thanks for the comment

      Nic

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