“She is too strong.” Body [Mis]Perceptions and Wonder Woman Desires

March 6, 2012 |  by  |  Fitness

I posted a pict of Monique Minton and Erin Stern on my Tumblr and Facebook page. One response from a male friend was “looks too man-ly. too many muscles.”

When I told a friend I was running to an afternoon powerlifting training session, she scrunched up her face and said “Powerlifting? You mean like deadlifts and stuff? Why dont you just do Zumba?!”

On another occasion I shared with my buddy a picture of Zuzana Light (formerly of Bodyrock.tv) expressing my admiration. His response was “She is too strong.” I asked him to explain. He said, “I could not wear short sleeve shirts around her.”

Wonder WomanSince becoming seriously interested in getting stronger and lowering my body fat, I’ve encountered like-minded people and ideas, but also have come across some doubts. Lately, my Facebook page is pasted with all types of workouts and photos of fit people, many of them powerlifters. I have a favorite series of photos I title “UNF”. As in “Unf, he is fine” or she is fine. I just love muscles. I always have. It started in a young age watching cartoons. He-Man, Lion-o, She-ra, GI Joe, Wolverine, even Lex Luthor and Skeletor were swole! But ultimately it was Wonder Woman who I hoped I’d become. Little did I know I too would grow up to be  6 ft tall, broad shouldered and buxom. My mother knew. She would often tell me “Krissy, you would be a great bodybuilder. You have the build for it.” At 15 I had no clue. I was a clutz with my body and felt awkward in it. To adjust, to overcompensate I ate and grew to be 240lbs. It’s been years since I’ve been that out of shape. But here I am at 37 years old hearing my mother’s words again and thinking about those Saturday morning heroes.

Bored with the elliptical and trying to heal from a painful knee injury, I knew I could not become complacent. I set a new goal. Not to lose weight but to lose body fat. Not to just do mindless cardio but to get stronger. My goal is to lift, pull, push my bodyweight. Whether that be deadlifts, chinups, climbing a rope, pullups, front squats, whatever it is by the end of year I am going to be able to handle my own weight!

So I began reading and sharing my finds to encourage others and myself. But I also heard from the nay-sayers. Friends, who at heart meant well, would call me up and say “dont get too big” or “stay feminine” or “dont start looking like a man”. Most of these messages came from men. And most of those men are out of shape themselves. Not sure if there is some correlation there. But the idea that lifting heavy is going to cause me to look like She-Hulk is a silly biologically incorrect myth.

It is hard enough for men to build muscle. A woman with a fraction of testosterone has trouble just building lean muscle mass let alone cock diesel muscles.

I chalked up these concerns and questions as a comfort level issue. Some people are comfortable with how another person should look (especially a woman) as a reflection on their own body image. That is fine. That comfort level is not my own. There is a difference. And it is important as we grow-up to understand the distinction: what other people want versus your own peace of mind. It takes a lot of mental and spiritual strength to be able to discern one from the other. Despite other folks’ popular opinion, I knew what I wanted for myself. What would make me happy. It is fine if I become leaner and stronger and not fit their body image. I wont be attractive to them but then again I am not attracted to them either. We cant be everything to everyone. I can only try to be own superhero. Ok, I cannot be the “real” Wonder Woman, but I can become as wonderful a woman to and for myself as I’m physically able. And if I happen to attract a “SuperMan” that would be great too. I do love muscles on men!

I see a man with a great shoulders and arms and strong legs my brain shuts down. I’m 5-years-old again, captivated by an image of strength and power.  As my sister recently reminded me “You always liked Arnold Schwarzenegger. Remember how much you liked watching Conan The Barbarian? You was little but you liked that man.” I sure did. It may not be the conventional or popular ideal of what a man looks like, but I will take a powerlifter, wrestler or football player any day.  I was recently introduced via YouTube to the powerlifter Konstantin Konstantinovs. I watched him lift 955 kg. Good grief, that is two tons! At 6’4″ he and 300 lbs of muscle, I am certain he is the Red Hulk personified.

Wonder Woman, Red Hulk

Blame it on Captain Caveman, He-Man, Ah-nuld, Big Barda  or Wonder Woman, but I will always pause to admire beautifully defined lats, bulging biceps, sculpted delts, c-shaped glutes, a ripped 6-pack and tear drop quads. And I will want the same for myself. It shows discipline, focus, flexibility and fortitude. Those are attractive qualities to have in life. Can never be too strong for that.

Next up, I talk about nutrition, my phobia of eating at restaurants, experiencing Austin BBQ and how I gathered the inner-strength not to hold-up a taco truck while at SXSW! Follow me @hellobillygoat


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About the author

Krishna "Billy" Brown, a graduate of Howard University (DC) and Portfolio Center (ATL), Billy is a UX/UI designer building interfaces for various mobile and web apps. She is also a food and fitness enthusiast and strives to be a powerlifter (in more ways than one). She loves finding new things and sharing them: pictures, words, stories, products, ideas. Krishna lives by the motto of a childhood hero: "I am a Thing-finder, and when you're a Thing-finder, you don't have a moment to spare." -Pippi Longstockings


  1. Well, I personally think that you should do what you want with YOUR body. You cant be happy in life if you aren’t happy with yourself. So go ahead and get to the shape and weight that you want. I personally am not for a woman with a super ripped body but then again that is just my opinion and preference. In the end…all that matters is that you are happy.

  2. *applauds*

    While I present as fearless, desserts scare me WAY more than weights do!

  3. @BAneeB Tacos and chocolate are my kryptonite. Glad to know you are not afraid of lifting!

  4. Very well said!!!! All you can do is be the best you! Working out does show disclipine and dedication. Wish more people had it (including myself) would prevent less deaths from Diabetes and Heart Disease.

  5. Where do i start? I wish more women took this view of fitness. I hate what society and the media has done to women minds when it comes to these things. Not everyone can look like a fitness model but everyone can be fit. That’s what it’s about right? Living healthy, feeling good, teaching our children and changing attitudes. That’s what it’s about for me. The mental gains sometimes out way the physical. The confidence that comes from pushing your self to do things you never imagined you could before. The mental benefits are something young women need to move forward and change societies attitudes towards strong women. It’s amazing to me that in the year 2012 there are still people who are bothered by strong women.

  6. sooo, I dated a guy in college, just as I was getting my feet on the ground in the Iron Game, who told me I shouldn’t lift too much because women should be “soft.” We broke up a week later.

    Let’s get beast girl!

  7. Billy,

    You go woman!! There’s nothing like watching the looks on a guys face when he sees a 5’2 lifting
    a 400 lb monster truck tire. I am now getting more involved with powerlifting and cross fit and the changes im seeing are awesome. I’m in the best shape of my life now,
    Keep on going- there’s a bunch of us out there!

    Thanks for sharing

  8. Yeah, I always think about how perceptions of beauty have changed throughout time and change throughout region. In less wealthy countries, it can be a sign of beauty to be fat, because it meant you had money! I also consider how some guys are insecure and need to keep people down, subservient, or whatever. It’s all crabs in a bucket. As you said, knowing who YOU are and living life in accordance to that brings more peace than anything else. Thanks for sharing this.

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