On a Saturday night a few weeks ago, I was sitting on my couch watching Serena Williams kill it on the court in her singles match with my family. As we watched, some of my family began making fun of Williams because of her muscular figure, calling her a man.
I was shocked to hear these comments. I have always seen Williams as beautiful and have been jealous of her strength. I didn’t understand why someone would be opposed to a woman being strong, but I discovered these comments are made towards Williams, and women with similar builds, all the time.
Reporters, announcers, tennis fans and others have targeted Serena for her appearance. In a letter to her mom shared on diversityinc, Serena explained some of the derogatory remarks made toward her.
“I’ve been called a man because I appeared outwardly strong,” Williams said. “It has been said that I use drugs…It has been said I don’t belong in women’s sports— that I belong in men’s— because I look stronger than many other women do.”
One reason many people are against muscular woman is that being muscular is seen as masculine. When I think about sports that require a lot of physical strength, I always picture a man because our society typically excludes women from participating in these activities.
It’s frustrating that even if girls have the talent and build to play these sports, they often aren’t accepted by the teams. I find females are often stereotyped as participating in graceful sports, like gymnastics or figure skating, rather than strength enduring athletics.
It’s ideal in our society for men to be muscular, but the ideal female body is believed to be thin and hour-glass shaped. This is a nearly impossible standard to achieve because it includes big hips and a wide bust while having a skinny waist.
When I was younger, I wished I could look like the models I saw on the front of magazines, but I later learned that these pictures are photoshopped to fit that “ideal” female look. Bodies that look like mine or bodies of super muscular women are often not put front and center like the thin models, which cause these muscular builds to seem less common than the thin stereotypes, even though this is completely false.
Another reason some men are against a woman having a muscular body is because they don’t want women to look stronger than them. In an episode of What Would You Do?, a TV show that creates fake scenarios to see how people will react, there was a scenario with a muscular woman working out on the beach, while another actor ridiculed her for her appearance.
Men who believed that the woman looked too muscular commented that they would not want their girlfriend to be stronger than they are. It seems like some men are so against muscular women because they do not want to lose their dominance.
It’s unfair that a woman with a strong build has to deal with these comments when a man with this build would be praised for his strength. The difference in values of what men and women should look like is the main cause for outbursts against women with a muscular build.
It’s unfair that women are shamed for looking the way they want. If men are allowed to be muscular, why can’t women? We have to stop comparing women to a certain standard and start accepting that all women look different. It is not only okay for some women to have a stronger build than others, but it’s awesome that women are able to achieve this build and have so much diversity in their appearance.