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It’s universally known that it’s downright mean to make fun of people for their looks. There are so many ways to shame someone for their body, including, but not limited to, deeming them overweight, too skinny, “skinny-fat”, or too “muscly”. Now, being very muscular is something for which a lot of men are praised. I should mention that sometimes they get made fun of, too. But for women, it’s seemingly not as acceptable to walk around with a muscular physique, opening jars for people and accidentally breaking off car door handles — you know,  the usual.

In the not too distant past, Jessica Simpson was criticized in the media when she showed off defined quads and calves in her signature short shorts and bathing suits, some going as far as to assert that she must have had an addiction to working out. But not five years earlier, she had been criticized for being ‘overweight’. It seems the ideal shape is pretty darn specific, down to what curves and muscles you are and aren’t supposed to have.

Some might say that receiving criticism for being too fit is nothing to whine about, but female muscle shaming is a real thing, along with any sort of body shaming. Here are a few things to remember about muscular women, even if you may be one of them (and if so, yay you!).


Muscles aren’t only found on men…

so referring to a woman with muscles as “manly” really makes no sense. When you see muscles, it’s a result of activity that’s built those muscles, whether it be a physically demanding career, time spent in the gym, or any number of other activities requiring physical strength, and you don’t have to be a man to do any of them. To an extent, it’s also a result of genetics. Even if you believe it’s alright to shame someone who is intentionally muscular (which it still is not) some people look that way just because.

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Barbie’s not a woman, Barbie’s a doll.

Who came up with these ideas of what a woman is supposed to look like? Men come in all shapes and sizes, and not all of them resemble a Ken doll. A man isn’t any less a man without beefy quads or bulging biceps and a woman isn’t any less a woman with them.


“Toned” isn’t the acceptable version of “muscular” for women.

I have heard more times than I can count that women want to be “toned” and not “muscular.” Toned means ‘given greater strength’; well, what makes you stronger? Answer: muscles. Unfortunately, “toned” seems to be the acceptable term for a strong-looking woman because, to many, anything having to do with muscles or being muscular is akin to masculine. It’s fine to want to be toned but don’t use it as a way to put down muscular women.

Strengthening her entire body

Most women have a clear understanding of how they look.

I know people may think that they’re somehow helping a woman by pointing out that she’s getting too big or muscular. Believe me when I say, women are aware of their appearance, and you can bet that surely goes for the ones that you believe are intentionally gaining body mass. It’s not going to make you seem like a better friend/coworker/acquaintance to notify them that they aren’t fitting your idea of what a woman ought to look like.

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Her body isn’t really any of your business.

Why does anyone care about the physique of another woman? Does it somehow affect another’s life or even their body? I can’t come up with a single scenario in which a woman with muscles somehow negatively affects the happiness factor of another person’s life. As with anything critical that could be said to another human being, calling a woman “manly” or “too muscular” might hurt her feelings, as tough as her exterior may appear.

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Shaming someone for their size or looks is downright mean.

Didn’t we learn anything from Mean Girls? And honestly, when you try to put a strong woman down, you run the risk of coming across as jealous and petty. And that’s not a cute look for anyone, regardless of your figure.