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Oct 22

I’m A Woman (who looks like a man?)

In my first ‘official’ race as a member of Team Oiselle, I was the second woman overall. About two minutes after crossing the finish line, I heard the announcer yell “And here comes our second place female!” Um, hello? I’m over here, and I crossed a little while ago. This is what I looked like, coming into the finish:

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Definitely not the most flattering picture, and I was hesitant to send it to Oiselle as my new cover photo for my athlete page. In fact, when I told the story to my friend (who finished fourth) about the announcer missing me as the second female, she laughingly suggested Oiselle make me a shirt that reads “I’M A WOMAN!” It was funny and we both laughed about it, but this wasn’t the first time I’ve questioned what other people may think about me and my, um… physique. The short hair isn’t doing me any favors either.

And then I read the article Lauren Fleshman (a fellow Oiselle teammate, albeit a big tier above me!) wrote in Runner’s World, titled: Do I Look Like A Man?

I couldn’t open the link fast enough because I thought “Finally! Someone else gets it.” This is the picture that accompanies her article:

At least you have long hair Lauren!

At least you have long hair Lauren!

She wrote it after she strut her athletic stuff on the runway in NYC, for the second year in a row, to debut the new Oiselle running kit during fashion week. Later that night, when she was browsing the local media’s take on the line, she saw the above picture on Facebook and, although there were tons of positive comments, the one negative one jumped out at her. The one that simply read: ‘She looks like a man.’

Instead of replying only to the comment author, she replied to us all:

“At what point does physical strength become a trait reserved for men? When exactly do you cross the line? Is it the same point where courage becomes having balls? The same point where getting it done becomes manning up? Why is there no female corollary for these terms? And why do I, as a feminist, continue to use the dude ones?”

Fleshman decided it’s high time we ladies “woman up!” Now, I’m not one for corny rallying cries. I don’t think “strong is the new skinny” and I’ve never shouted out a “you go girl!” but I’m 100% behind the concept of upping my woman.

Why indeed are muscles reserved for men? I don’t think Halle would agree with this at all.

No one ever said she looked like a man. Ever.

No one ever said she looked like a man. Ever.

Or my friend Nikki who killed it in a Figure Competition two years ago:

Wa-BAM!

Wa-BAM!

For those of you who don’t know, when a woman passes or beats a guy in a race, it’s called being “chicked.” No sexist undertone in that, right? I prefer the Ragnar term of “kills” when passing another runner. At least there’s no gender bias involved.

So, how am I going to “woman up” and answer Fleshman’s rally cry? By being my authentic self. I work hard to build these muscles and improve my speed and strength. My body is a direct result of logging countless road miles, swim laps and bike revolutions. My body created two perfect human beings – – at the same time! My body, as Oiselle’s Kristen Metcalf so awesomely put it, when she tweeted out my racing photo, is “Fierce feminine!” Yeah, I’m sticking with that!

How are you going to ‘woman up?’

What do you think about this message?

What do you think about women with muscles?

57 comments

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  1. Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama

    First of all women with muscles are sexy! My husband comes and hold my arm always trying to get tickets to the gun show but what he doesn’t realize is that it’s a show for one–him lol! I was at the Oiselle fashion show (still need too put that post up thanks for the reminder!) and the women were simply amazing I was in awe of their femininity. The trolls will always exist. They will be horrible and sit behind their computers looking for negative things to say and that will never end.

    Kudos to you for not knocking that silly announcer out. You already know how gorgeous you are!!!
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted…Weekly Wednesday Workout: Back Bow CrossoverMy Profile

    1. vita88

      That’s right mama! We’re bringing sexy back 🙂
      I think I was just too fast and he missed me! hahaha!!! I guess I’ll have to come in first next time.

  2. Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness

    Oh geez, you can’t imagine how I hate that! I am a long way from achieving your physique. With working full time (now having two jobs), I cannot put in those hours unless I decide to give up sleep entirely which already seems like I’m working my way to that point by getting up at 3:30 every morning. My goal is to achieve your level (or close) of athleticism. My husband, on the other hand, likes me “soft” and would hate it if reached my goals because to him I wouldn’t look like a woman. On the one hand I’m happy that he isn’t expecting me to be that way but I don’t want to be criticized for it either if I do. You have an amazing physique and should be proud of your accomplishments! There is no “man” about you!! Those people can go fuck themselves if they think otherwise.
    Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness recently posted…Questions About Beachbody CoachingMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Hahaha! Thank you SO very much Kris. I absolutely agree with you and, my husband is forever telling me I’m too skinny. In response I just give him “the look” and promise to be very much overweight when I’m 80 and see how he likes that!!

  3. Tina Muir

    Allie! I wrote about a similar thing today!!! Even including a bit about Lauren Fleshman and her post. We must be on the same wavelength…..you will definitely like my story today! And for the record, HECK NO! You are beautiful and strong as you are, never change! 🙂
    Tina Muir recently posted…Find Your Strong- Is the “Runner” Body Image Finally Changing for the Better?My Profile

    1. Linda @ The Fitty

      Yes! This article reminded me of yours, Tina. Finally, the world is changing. What bothers me is, why put hate on other people’s successes like that? I don’t understand how people an be so cruel and inconsiderate.
      Linda @ The Fitty recently posted…What Your Breakfast Says About YouMy Profile

      1. vita88

        It happens and I’m just glad that it sometimes happens to someone as fabulous as Lauren Fleshman so she can fight back and stand up! Thanks Linda.

    2. vita88

      How cool is that??? Cannot wait to read your post!

  4. Tara Newman

    I love you to death. You are fabulous and gorgeous and fit and strong and badass and a tremendous athlete and a great mom. Boom. Boom. Boom! I can keep going 🙂
    Tara Newman recently posted…Triathlon Training: 7 Ways To Maximize Your Off-SeasonMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Right back at you mama!!! Nothing but love here!

  5. Janine Huldie

    I absolutely adore you and seriously you never cease to amaze me. You are just perfect the way you are and sadly I am the girliest girl you will ever find, but still I truly look up to you and only wish I could be more like you!! 😉
    Janine Huldie recently posted…Rise of the Jack O Lanterns Revisited Wonderful Wednesday Blog HopMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Janine! You are too sweet. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. THANK YOU!

  6. Leah

    Strength is strength. People who take care of their bodies are people who take care of their bodies. Courage is courage. There is no gender attached to any of those things. Just our own unique characters, values and personalities. You are an incredibly strong, beautiful person.
    Leah recently posted…New York for Thanksgiving – Part 3My Profile

    1. vita88

      You put that so well, Leah! Thank you so much.

  7. thedoseofreality

    What you look like is insanely FABULOUS my friend!! And I love your sunglasses! You rock! :)-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted…To My Teen: It’s (Mostly) All GoodMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Hahaha! Thanks Ashley. I actually didn’t mean to wear those, but had nowhere to put them but on my face when the race started!

  8. misszippy

    Fierce féminin–love that term! it is definitely high time that we accept and promote muscles on women. C’mon folks–it’s 2014 and we have long since arrived. And I will admit–i wish I had a more muscular build. My body doesn’t pack on muscle easily and I always envy those with a bit more of that natural body type. Of course, I could also choose to do more strength training to achieve that, but I also do what I love most, which is running. Which brings me to this: as long as we are fit, healthy and happy, there’s room for all of us and it’s time society embraces that.
    misszippy recently posted…Running as a catharsisMy Profile

    1. vita88

      *applauding and nodding head in total agreement*

  9. Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life

    You are beautiful and I would never mistake you for a man! And I love that term fierce feminine…totally describes you!
    Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life recently posted…Curried Green Onion HummusMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Thanks Michelle! Maybe I should change the name of this blog to “Fierce Feminine!”

  10. Carla

    I’ve never understood why people think muscular women look like a man. If that is what they are saying then by the same token wouldn’t a man lacking in muscle look feminine? But I never see that posted on a man’s photo. I think people who say this are not comfortable with themselves enough and deep down they know they lack the discipline to get in such good shape. Instead of turning things inward they turn it outward. I’ve never once thought you look like a man. Have to admit, I covet your muscle.

    1. vita88

      Carla, you are awesome. You put this so brilliantly and yes, shouldn’t it be the same for non-muscled men? I have to admit that I sometimes think a very skinny, long-haired guy at the front of the pack is a woman! Thanks for this 🙂

  11. Tamara

    Even objectively speaking, I’d think that photo was a woman. And I’ve met you, and you – to me – look very much like a woman. And Scarlet lives in ambiguous Northampton land, and many people DO confuse her, but you don’t.
    Anyway, I know that’s not the point.
    You are perfectly you, just the way you are. Fierce feminine.
    Tamara recently posted…Raindrops on Roses.My Profile

    1. vita88

      Hahahaha!!! That is funny!!…because it’s true. Thanks Tamara 🙂

  12. Dana

    Chicked – really? That’s offensive. There are muscles from working out (like you), and there are muscles from serious competitive weightlifting. Those competitors don’t look like men, and they have more muscles than 99% of males. They don’t look like the traditional curvy woman, though. So why can’t a woman be defined in both of those ways? We all have the same plumbing.

    I don’t have as much muscle as I’d like, but when I look in the mirror while doing repetitions I think I look fierce. Almost as fierce as you.
    Dana recently posted…Teen drivers don’t know everythingMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Ferocity comes from the inside and you absolutely HAVE IT! It comes though your writing…
      Thanks Dana!

  13. Kim

    First, I think you are beautiful and would know right away that you are a female – a strong one at that!!!
    If I could have the muscles you do, I would in a heartbeat – I try but I don’t know if my body type will allow it. A friend and I have discussed that fact that sometimes those of us who are a little taller don’t get the same muscled look no matter how hard we try. I will keep trying because if I ever looked like you do in that picture I would be ecstatic!!!
    Kim recently posted…Sometimes I Just Feel SadMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Thank you, Kim, and yes it has so much to do with genetics and body type, because I know you train like an animal. You are strong (and fierce) inside and out, and can rock a pair of cowboy boots with a dress like nobody I know!!

  14. Alison

    I wish I had your body. Truth.
    (wish I had the discipline and know-how to make that happen!)

    1. vita88

      Right now (mostly) all that disciplined needs to be channeled into one thing – all your beautiful children. xoxoxo

  15. Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness

    First of all that announcer has to get his eyes checked bc in no way, shape or form do you look like a man there. You look like a hot woman who just killed it in the race!! You have the best figure around- I’m jealous. My sister is built the same way and i’ve been enviable my entire life!!
    Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness recently posted…Ghost-Eating (TOL)My Profile

    1. Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness

      *envious
      Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness recently posted…Ghost-Eating (TOL)My Profile

    2. vita88

      Thank you Charlotte! I really appreciate you saying that and, I absolutely love my body but sometimes I get that “muscle masculine” thing.

  16. Patty

    When I met you I thought to myself, “wow she is really strong” and then I learned you were a mom of twins and thought “hell yeah she is!” Besides that you are a gorgeous lady so that announcer must have been blind. I love the term “woman up” and I am going to change my vocabulary from now on. Thanks for the inspiration.
    Patty recently posted…My Favorite iPhone Photography AppsMy Profile

    1. vita88

      That is awesome!!! Thank you so much Patty!

  17. Christine @ Love, Life, Surf

    Fierce feminine indeed!! I love you and love that you wrote this. You look so freaking amazing and strong which reflects YOU. I mean, it’s kind of crazy that we are still having this conversation in 2014 but yes, let’s #WomanUp.

    1. vita88

      Love you right back! Thank you Christine!!!

  18. jill conyers

    I strive for muscle definition! My daughter is a competitive cheerleader and she spends hours at the gym for practice and conditioning. She loves it and has great muscle definition not to mention strength. Very now and then someone at school will make a comment about girls shouldn’t have that much muscle (or something like that). It’s confusing and frustrating for her and irritating to me. We’ll get through these teen years 🙂
    jill conyers recently posted…5 Benefits of Hemp HeartsMy Profile

    1. vita88

      That is awful. I cannot imagine having to go through this as a teenager. I think it’s awesome that cheerleaders are cross-training! I love watching those competitions on TV and I can definitely see why they need to train. Luckily, she has a great mom to help her though those rough years.

  19. Carly @ Fine Fit Day

    I have to think the guy just didn’t see you cross the line. And if he did, what a blind moron!!! Women should have muscles, we work hard for them, and we should show them off. Like any other ridiculous, nasty, petty crap that you all-too-often read in comments in blogs and social media, I honestly think it all comes down to the commenter’s fear, narrow-mindedness, jealousy and spite than actually being valid points. And I LOVE “fierce feminine.” I’m going to use that!
    Carly @ Fine Fit Day recently posted…12 Lovely YearsMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Thanks Carly!! You always say just the right things!!

  20. Melissa Burton

    I’ve been a little social media quiet lately and I just read this post. I love it! I think you are one of the most gorgeous women I know inside and out. You’re dedicated to health and it shows. You have muscles but there is nothing about you that masculine! Your strength is something you’ve worked hard for and I’m glad that it shows!

    You’re a competitive runner but I’ve seen you in the field and you’re encouraging and supportive as well as strong, fast and happy and I think everyone would say that’s picture perfect.

    To me, you represent everything that a woman can be, in every way possible. People are multidimensional and those that only judge by the surface have their own limitations to blame.

    F#%^ the jealous haters and go on with your bad self – that sounded much better in my head than it reads.
    Melissa Burton recently posted…Billy Idol – Sirius XM Artist Confidential at the TroubadourMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write this Melissa. I am truly taking it to heart. I love what you wrote about “seeing me in the field,” because I absolutely love cheering for and encoring other friends, and runners in general. As always, you made my day with your thoughts. THANK YOU!

  21. Whitney @ To Live & Diet in L.A.

    Strong is sexy! Way to embrace women’s right to be buff. If anyone has a problem with it, it’s because they’re intimidated.
    Whitney @ To Live & Diet in L.A. recently posted…Five Things FridayMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Hell yes! I’m totally going with that. Thanks Whitney.

  22. Kate

    Fierce feminine is right! You go girl 😉
    Kate recently posted…Who doesn’t love fresh flowers?My Profile

    1. vita88

      Right on Kate!

  23. Rachel G

    I think muscles are equally useful, for men or women. I’m not built, that’s for sure, but very skinny, curveless, and tall for someone living in Asia (5’5″, and the shortest adult in my family), and in high school I had a pixie cut and was mistaken for a boy frequently. Now with shoulder length hair and wearing more feminine clothes I don’t get mistaken any more–it’s not really the best feeling, although now I think I’d laugh, in high school my feelings were probably a little more tender.
    Rachel G recently posted…Cultural Faux PasMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Oh I wish I had your height!! HAHAHA!!! I’ve been mistaken for being a boy my whole life…but also for being much younger then I am so I’m ok with that! Thanks for reading and for your comment.

  24. Sarah

    when I first saw you at Fitbloggin my first impression was this girl is an ATHLETE! One look at your arms and I knew that you work hard and mean business. My second thought was damn I wish I had those arms:) I admire your physique and gosh darn I woman that body has done amazing things!! More power to you!
    Sarah recently posted…Get Outside and Fuel Your Adventures with LÄRABARMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Thank you so much Sarah! I’m so glad we met at FitBloggin’ and I cannot wait to meet up again!!

  25. Lex @ Flecksoflex

    Allie, you ROCK! I love this post, and I think you are a superwoman! I’m glad that so many women around the web are talking about body image this week. I think all of us ladies need to keep the dialogue going! And, if it means anything, I would kill for your shoulders! You are a truly inspirational athlete (regardless your gender!).
    Lex @ Flecksoflex recently posted…I Have Been One Lazy Lima BeanMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Thank you so much! And YES, we all need to be on the same page. Strong women unite!!

  26. Britt@MyOwnBalance

    First of all, neither of you look like a man at all. Whoever says that is just plain stupid. Second, I really like your point that muscles shouldn’t be reserved for men. I saw the photos from the Oiselle fashion show and I thought the women looked great in that show. I also love the Athleta catalogs because I think the women are so inspirational in those. I think we should ignore the naysayers!
    Britt@MyOwnBalance recently posted…Freezer-Friendly MealsMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Agreed! Athletic fashion is really starting to come into it’s own and I LOVE that. Especially since I wear workout clothes 90% of the time!!

  27. Jesica @rUnladylike

    I love, love, love this post. Thank you for writing it! I think you look amazing and would gladly trade arms with you any day of the week. LOL!
    Jesica @rUnladylike recently posted…Trail Shoe Talk: Brooks PureGrit 3My Profile

    1. vita88

      Hahaha! Thanks Jes!!

  1. High Five Friday: Appearances, Appearances, Appearances - Love Life Surf

    […] I’m A Woman (who looks like a man?): Allie is strong and fast and beautiful and funny and I adore her for writing this post. Even in this day, there’s still a stigma associated with women looking too muscular – that it somehow makes women less of a woman. Kind of crazy in my opinion and, as pro runner Lauren Fleshman said, it’s time to Woman Up. Tina also wrote on a similar topic about how the runner’s body image is starting shift and change to a healthier image. […]

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