Opinion: Women need to stop devaluing their own strength

We’ve all heard of women in STEM; now we need women in gyms

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Gabriela Asmar

Carlmont’s 0 period weight training class has 14 female students and 19 male students, the largest number of girls in one weight training class in the history of the school, according to Carlmont weight training teacher David Heck.

At the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, David Heck, a Carlmont weight training teacher, told his 0 period students that they had a record number of female students in the class. There are 14 girls and 19 boys. 

So many girls and women believe that they cannot lift because society tells us that we must be dainty, small, and delicate. From birth, we are fed ads for weight-loss teas, restrictive diets, and workouts that are 100% guaranteed to stave off any unwanted muscle bulk. Some people have even told girls not to fear growing muscle because it is impossible for female people to bulk up in the same way that males do. 

It is time to end the stigma around female muscle; it exists, and it’s not bad. It does not interfere with daily life; in fact, lifting has helped many people, including weight-lifting influencer Casey Johnston, regain mobility when doing routine tasks once taken for granted. 

“…Moving around had become easier [after I started lifting weights]: bending down, carrying groceries, moving boxes around in the storage crawl space beneath my apartment,” Johnston wrote in her article, “I Didn’t Start Weight Lifting Because I Wanted to be Strong.”

Johnston, author of the newsletter “She’s A Beast,” also described the pressure she put on herself to perform at her most petite, and her eventual acceptance of weight lifting.

“I had trapped myself in a cycle of eating less food and doing more exercise just to keep my weight where it was; the only thing left to try was to throw it all into reverse,” Johnston recalled.

However, even after self-acceptance and countless pep talks in the mirror, it is hard for women to find confidence in the gym. This is partially due to the fact that there are so many guys around that monopolize free-weight machines or explain everything we do wrong if we dare to take the weights from them. 

As a woman, it can be a freeing and enlightening experience to finally feel strong. Still, weight lifting also comes with a host of other issues: self-doubt, feeling underrepresented in the gym, and widespread fear of looking stupid in front of all the ‘gym bros.’ Nevertheless, we must persist and demand to be taken seriously in places where we have faced exclusion in the past. Whether that’s in the lab, on the court, or in the gym is up to you.