Muscle doesn't inhibit your femininity.

Men, more often than not, are complimented for their muscle and praised for their "gains". Yet, surprisingly frequently, we see women facing criticism for the exact same thing. "Too" muscular is the term I've come across. But what does that even mean? What is a woman "too" muscular in comparison to? In comparison to a guy? In comparison to a 'normal' (?!) woman? In comparison to the person criticising them?

This discourse is derived mainly from the belief that muscle is "manly". But we all have muscle, so why is it that having bigger stronger muscles has become associated with masculinity? Visible muscle is not a sign of lost femininity but hard work, strength, maybe a physical manual job or even simply genetics. Muscle is should not be related to gender stereotypes in any way; men are not any less manly if they're not stacked and women are no less feminine if they are.

It's important to emphasise that this criticism doesn't just stem from men. A huge swath of this negative talk around muscular women stems from other women.

A common concept among women is that they want to be "toned" and not "muscular". Yet to get the 'toned' look everyone is searching for, muscle needs to grow... the exact same process for getting that 'muscular' look. Toned appears to be the acceptable version of 'looking strong' for women, the feminine version. Let's not forget, it's fine to be toned or want to be toned but there's no right or wrong version of how to look strong as a woman.

For me, I've never felt more confident. My changed body shape is a reflection of the hard work I put into my training, my increased strength and a better quality of life. It's made me feel more confident, more able and ultimately, with more strength, more independent. Yet, when someone judges the way that you look, they won't think about all the ways that it benefits your life. Instead they just consider how it goes against their idea of what's attractive and feminine.

And, let's be realistic, someone's physique is not really anyone's business except theirs.

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