Fearless, bold and wild strong women are "in"
Stacy D, Romwod wearing The Chestee Sports Bra arm wrestling Lorelei Fedeczko of FitAid at the Titos Tent, Photo by Becky Yee

It was about 27 years ago when mainstream media had its first desirable, strong, fit female role model. We can thank Linda Hamilton's role in Terminator 2: Judgement Day for that. Her lean, sinewy, muscled body became the new physique for women to aspire to and men to find desirable, sexy, and appealing.

When Kerri Keegan started lifting weights in high school, she remembers people telling her “oh, just make sure you don’t get too big.” But she never let it bother her, and she says that she has seen a huge shift in mentality over the past few years. Now the high school girls she coaches say that they don’t want to be skinny. They want abs and muscles. Keegan feels that this is in part due to shifts in marketing, popularity of women’s sports, and the positive image and morals that many elite athletes are promoting. Most women that Keegan talks to now aspire to look like and appreciate the physiques of the elite-level CrossFit women in the sport.

 At Wodapalooza, an annual crossfit and fitness festival held in Miami, saw 1,700 athletes and 30,000 spectators gather for the multi-day event.  Divisions like the adaptive standing and seated divisions had athletes with prosthetics doing more burpees than most people with all their limbs.  The popularity of Wodapalooza attracted female competitors ranging in age from 10 years to 55 years old.

The first ever Wodapalooza was held seven years ago and had a mere 62 female competitors. Now, in 2018, there were 847 women competing from all over the world.  That is a 1,282% increase in less than a decade.   It is easy to see where the trend in strong and fit women is going.

Although many women still have the irrational fear  that weight training equals getting bulky and too big, the recent fitness movement encourages women to be both strong mentally and physically, and it seems that guys are going for it too.  In terms of what is attractive, Keegan said, “Guys seem to find it very attractive that I have such an investment in my fitness.  Not only in the way it makes me look, but the confidence it gives me, and the dedication and passion that is apparent from training in that capacity.  It’s always funny at the gym when I’m at a new place and me a 5 foot 115 lb female is doing 198 lb clean and jerks and squatting the same as a big guy beside me, haha… it always turns into a conversation starter.”

“I tell my daughter daily to believe in herself, and stretch her thinking about 'normal'. Be your awesome self and be happy with your gifts. I’m so happy Strong is the New Pretty. The reason I chose my new job and product line and our product NEVER QUIT is to help keep people in the game of life. Be strong. Recover fast. Get back in there. There’s a lot of living to do: we have such an amazing world!”

18-year-old Anna Weigrand, who competes in the Crossfit Games and also placed third in the teens division at Wodapalooza, chimed in, "I fell in love with the process of sharpening my strengths and constantly improving my weaknesses. The pain and suffering in workouts became second nature to me. My self-confidence increased and I loved how my body was shaping. I absolutely love my muscles. I love the way I’m built and how my muscles help my performance in Crossfit! I wouldn’t trade my muscles and how my body is built for anything! I love what my strong muscles can do.”

Jen Campanelli, a crossfitter from Verge Athletics and team member of Blondtourage who competed at Wodapalooza, said, “It's nice to see women of all shapes and sizes finally being recognized as beautiful for looking exactly the way they are. I avoided the weight room in school because I didn't want to get big because I thought everyone would look at me differently. I like to think it's more acceptable now for women to be strong because women are finally allowed to be who they want to be, and not just what society perceives them as. It doesn't matter if someone is or is not interested in being strong, but for a long time that was frowned upon. I very much enjoy all the women who are strong and proud of it, and make it easier for women who are more unsure of themselves to gain confidence to look however they want.”

Sweating and building muscles doesn't stop these women from doing their makeup.  Taryn Hemmings, a former professional soccer player, wanted a quick and easy foundation, and she created Sweat Cosmetics.  The foundation has 30 SPF and lasts the entire workout without running or caking.  In fact, some Wodapalooza competitors wore it during the competition, and it still looked great even after an hour of several ocean swims and a full sweaty WOD (work out of the day) competition.

There are different types of strengths: physical strength, mental strength, emotional strength. Whatever you do, have fun and challenge yourself, and don’t be afraid to hit the weight room or check out a local crossfit box, or, my favorite, a tough mudder or spartan race.  I encourage everyone to go out and kick some butt.  I am so happy about this new trend, strong is the new pretty!