GMA concern-trolls buff women

Dear Good Morning America,

It’s not every day that I see a segment on a morning fluff show that makes me flush with anger.  Normally you have inoffensive segments about a new recipe featuring the food du jour or an interview with the contestants from America’s Next Hot Top Dancing with the Chefs, which makes you easy to tune out when you are on.

So I have to congratulate you on your accomplishment, because your segment, entitled “Women Who are Too Toned: Is it a Bad Look?” literally turned me red with rage.  Well done, GMA producers!  Well done!

Cited as examples of women who unnamed “critics” (i.e., ignorant-ass bloggers and anonymous commenters) say are getting too muscular:

Yes, these are examples of women who are seen as possibly being too strong to be attractive.

At one point, the reporter talks about the way men are expected to be big and muscular, and says women may be facing a double standard here.

Do ya think?

No one bats an eye when a man lift weights and makes an effort to be strong and muscular.  It’s expected of him, because that’s part of how we’ve defined masculinity – as strong and powerful.

A woman who lifts weights and builds muscles is seen as betraying her “soft” feminine nature.  She’s trying to look like a man, people say.  She’s a gender traitor.  She hates being a woman.

But when you parse it out, what’s the not-so-hidden subtext here?  It’s that women are only feminine when they are physically weak and when they are vulnerable (and hence, in need of protection from those big, strong menz).  That’s what’s at play here when “critics” bash women for being too muscular.  Think about it.

I’m glad GMA decided to talk to fitness model Summer White, who defended women who lift.  (Although I do think it’s funny – and noted the same – that White is a bikini model, and yet they are using her as an example of a muscular woman.  Imagine if they had done this segment with an actual female bodybuilder?)  At least they gave a rather minor nod to balanced “journalism” in doing so.

But at the same time, I simply cannot wait for the day when ladies who love to lift weights can do so without having to hear that they are somehow less womanly because of it.



3 responses to “GMA concern-trolls buff women

  1. I just happened upon your site and wanted to congratulate you for bringing up this topic and creating an open forum to discuss. I do, however, want to clarify something. I am an actual female bodybuilder, but compete in a division called Bikini. I cannot speak for other girls who I compete with, but I train and diet like a bodybuilder, with one of the top trainers and nutritionists for competitive bodybuilding, fitness and figure athletes in the world.
    Because I compete in Bikini, does that make me less of a bodybuilder?
    Girls that compete in Figure, Fitness, Physique, and Bikini haven’t developed the level of muscularity necessary for the Bodybuilding division, but we are all in related areas of competition.
    News segments can get things wrong a lot of the time, but I actually applaud Good Morning America for this segment. It was their intention to shine light on the double standard in our society. The answer would have been obvious should they had chosen to interview a female with more dense and developed muscle… Is Cameron Diaz too toned? Umm… compared to who, me? haha!
    Cameron Diaz and I are not in the same category of fitness. I am a nationally ranked NPC Bikini competitor. Given that, I am qualified to be the voice of the fitness perspective.

    • Hi Summer! Thanks for your comment.

      My intention was not to say you are less of a competitor but rather speaking more about the actual divisions of competition. I do see how my statement could have been misconstrued, and I didn’t mean to make that implication. As you pointed out, the women who compete in bodybuilding competitions have a very highly developed level of muscularity beyond figure/bikini/etc., which was more my point than anything.

      Also, thanks for going on the show and speaking out for all of us ladies who like to work out hard in the gym. I do tire of hearing people say that, for instance, Jessica Biel looks like a man because she has developed shoulders, and I appreciate you going out there and saying, hold up, that’s ridiculous.

      P.S. Congratulations on your achievements!

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