CrossFit and (Women’s) Body Image

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For a long time I’ve been wanting to address this question to the ladies around me: How does being a part of the CrossFit milieu affect your body image?

Ideally, exercise should be empowering and make you feel great about yourself and for the majority of you, that’s hopefully the case.  However, CrossFit does entail some pitfalls, that could challenge a healthy body image for women. Here’s some examples:

#1: The CrossFit “Uniform”:

Tights, hot pants, mini sports bra’s and often no top.. That’s hardly attire that leaves a lot for the imagination. You’re bound to feel very self conscious (it’s like taking a walk down the beach in bikini – but indoors … need I say more?)

#2: Comparisons

Just like other competitive athletes, we like to compare ourselves to others. That’s essentially a natural thing, but the issue arises when the habitual CrossFit “average Jane” suddenly feels compelled to look like Annie (aka. fittest woman on earth).

#3: Smile – you’re on camera!

We might pride ourselves on the fact that we don’t have mirrors in our gyms – BUT we sure have facebook/twitter/blogs . This means that if you participate in the occasional event at your gym – you probably have a few dozen “tags” to go through the day after. You’re “forced” to look at yourself in some flattering and unflattering situations (refer back to #1). Most of us are painfully aware of the fine line between muscular/athletic and beast-like hulk with giant flexed traps 🙂

I guess what I’m trying to say is, that female CrossFit athletes face some of the same issues as other competitive athletes. While it is acknowledged that “regular” female athletes often suffer from disturbed body images, the same discussion has not yet reached our community. Most information about CrossFit and body image deals with the “fear of being bulky” –  mostly a fear amongst the “uninitiated”. Less info and discussions deals with the pressure of looking a certain way, eating clean and being ‘ripped’ that we constantly expose each other to – directly and indirectly though our updates, pictures and tweets.

Remember that there’s no perfect body for CrossFit – that’s one of the great things about our sport! Great CF performance – like beauty – comes in many shapes and sizes! 


More articles about athletes and body image (issues) :

One solution to the “I feel fat syndrome” is to remember “fat” is not a feeling. That is, you don’t feel “blond hair” or “freckled.” You also do not feel “fat.” Yes, you may be feeling uncomfortable with your body. But you are really feeling imperfect, inadequate, insecure, anxious—and any number of other feelings that get described as “feeling fat.” 

Body Image and Athletes by Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD

“Many girls have concerns about the size and shape of their bodies,” the website reads. “But being a highly competitive athlete and participating in a sport that requires you to train extra hard can increase that worry… Even in sports where body size and shape aren’t as important, such as distance running and cross-country skiing, girls may be pressured by teammates, parents, partners and coaches who mistakenly believe that ‘losing just a few pounds’ could improve their performance.”

It’s true. We’re an extremely body-conscious bunch.

I’ve heard female basketball players long to be a little bit taller, swimmers a little bit leaner, runners a little bit more toned. It’s hard to blame us, with our unforgiving uniforms and the scores of “perfect” athletic bodies we’re surrounded by daily.

Body Image and the Female Athlete – article from the Guardian (University of California)

Be a role model with both your words and actions. Speak up when you hear others making negative comments about weight or body shape. Compliment friends and teammates on their talents and personality, not their looks. Take a positive attitude about fueling yourself and enjoying foods.

The Female Athlete Triad – Brown University 


One thought on “CrossFit and (Women’s) Body Image

  1. Et godt og relevant indlæg!

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