My Battle with Women’s Magazines

I’ll admit. I’m a sucker for magazines. Fashion, fitness, lifestyle; I’ll read them all. However, just because I read them, doesn’t mean that I buy into all that they preach (don’t ask why I read if I don’t believe half the stuff, I just do. It’s entertainment.) Especially when it comes to about 99% of the “fitness” articles for women.  When recently reading one lovely mag that shall go un-named, I came upon a wonderful article asking women if they wanted to look like Skinny Celebrity A, or Mildly Muscular Celebrity B. In fact, they were touted as “Mini Muscles or Maxi Muscles”. *Vomit*.

Title aside, I decided to take a look at the workout that was being proposed. The exercises that were suggested were actually not terrible, if they had been done with any amount of decent weight, although there were only four of them. Then I got down to reading the actual description of how to obtain said Mini and Maxi Muscles. (What is a Maxi-Muscle anyway? and aren’t those terms that should be describing clothes, not muscles?)

Hmmm… I don’t see any Mini or Maxi muscles here…

Their message was this: for mini muscles, or as they called it “a toned appearance”, do more reps with less weight; for maxi muscles, or “serious definition” lift heavier weights and do fewer reps.

Wait…. What??

While I appreciate their half-assed attempt at mentioning “heavier weights”, I have three major problems with this.

  • These two different “looks” that they are talking about essentially mean the same thing. Having a “toned” appearance is the same thing as having muscle definition, so how exactly are they differentiating between the two? I would actually pay the editor of this magazine to define “muscle tone” and “muscle definition” and to explain to me me how one is caused by light weight and one by heavy weight. The answer, as we all know, is that it simply isn’t true.  Not to mention the fact that doing a couple of light weight exercises will never ever get you to look like Skinny Celebrity A.
  • Can people stop trying to convince women that there are magical easy exercises out there that will “tighten the skin around your muscles to make you appear trim and toned”? Unicorns and fairy dust are more believable than some of the nonsense that comes out of the mouths of certain celebrity trainers (Ahem, Tracy Anderson… but that’s a whole separate post).
  • The skinny “mini” muscle celebrity that they used was Gwenyth Paltrow.  Really, in an article about muscular celebrities, This is what you’re striving for?

(I’m Pretty sure I could bench press Gwenyth Paltrow).

THIS is exactly why so many women out there are so confused when it comes to training effectively. Celebrity trainers who pretend women will get bulky if they lift more than 3 pounds are the ones who get all of the media attention, even though they are serving up false information. That’s right, they make S*** up, and get paid the big bucks for it.  The whole idea of light weight exercises that “tone” your muscles has absolutely no scientific evidence behind it. What does have scientific evidence supporting it is the practice of resistance training (and increasing the load over time), certain types of cardio, and smart nutritional habits. Would it really be that hard to promote these types of things in women’s magazines? Or is it that women won’t read a magazine that tells them to lift heavier weights?

If I had a dollar for every time I saw a women’s magazine promoting this type of senseless mumbojumo, I would be a millionaire by now! Or at least be able to buy myself a shiny new car.

When will women stop believing that they will get bulky if they step into the weight room?

My girl Kristen over at StrengthSwag has an awesome article here with some great info and pictures of women who lift heavy weights who are NOT bulky. I’m not sure if these muscles  would be “mini” or “maxi” but I’d choose looking like those girls over Gwenyth Paltrow any day.

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10 thoughts on “My Battle with Women’s Magazines

  1. Great post! Don’t even get me started on those celebs. “Unicorns and fairy dust are more believable than some of the nonsense that comes out of the mouths of certain celebrity trainers” <– so funny and so true!! 😀
    And I'm with you on looking like the muscular, sporty gals in Kristin's post over gweneth paltrow-like chicks. I'll pass her figure up annnyyy day!

  2. hahahahah i knew you’d do a great job with this topic!! ‘maxi muscles’?? what are they now, a feminine hygiene product??? thanks for the shout out – and im going to be sending this around to everyone! teamwork!!

  3. I just hate the programs they lay out! I don’t really care how people get started lifting — eventually if they enjoy it they’ll learn more, you know? But the programs in these magazines set people up for injury. They’re so unbalanced and the explanations of the exercises generally suck.

  4. As you know, I have worked for a body full of muscle for my entire life, yet I have never been able to get there. Now, because you are wonderful at being inspirational and helpful (although I must say I learn more when I go to the gym with you as my mouth falls open watching you lift) I focus on less reps and more weight. I have never wanted to look like our dear friend, Gwenny face, but I am also realistic (ug) that this will take a lot of work. Thankfully for blogs like yours, I have motivation and TRUTH about how to attain our fitness goals as women. Hats off to you, Stephanie D’Orsay! PS- I still want your arms

    • Thanks Lori!! I’m glad I can just put some honest truth out there for people to read and hopefully enjoy. And as long as you keep working (which I know you will because you’re extremely hard working at everything!) you’ll get to where you want to be. And Hey, I’m still trying to get to where I want to be so try not to get frustrated 🙂

  5. Hi!
    Really great article, I was wondering if you could tell me where you got the Magazine cover picture from as I would like to reference if for an essay on Anorexia as a Social Construction, I think it really shows just how damaging women’s magazines are!!
    Thanks,
    Jocelyn

  6. Pingback: I Train Therefore I Eat Turns One! | I Train Therefore I Eat.

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