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When you Google “femininity” and scroll through Google Images, you are met with visuals of pink, floral, fashion editorials representing depictions of being feminine. Comparatively, when you Google “masculinity,” Google Images shows visuals of strength, physicality, and men flexing their muscles.

This contrast reflects gendered norms within our society, categorizing women with a dainty image. Women are often represented in pop culture and marketing as being delicate, sensitive, and submissive. It is an unrealistic narrative that degrades women’s abilities, but women defy this narrative every day.

Over a year ago, I started hitting the gym consistently. I had never lifted weights before and was so intimidated by it initially. I began working with a couple of personal trainers who helped me learn. As months passed, I saw how my body grew stronger. I saw my weights increase, the results, and how my muscle definition transformed over time. I began to love the process and realized that it empowered me in many other ways than just in the gym. Lifting helped focus my energy, increase my perseverance, and become more in tune with my body’s needs.

I am no pro by any means, but my fitness journey has helped me realize that so much confidence and power comes from strength training. Lifting boosts determination and persistence, traits that I now carry with me outside of the gym more often. It challenges the patriarchal norm and standards that dismiss women’s abilities. It forces you to confront weights as heavy obstacles that will take all of your willpower to move. It pushes you to keep going, to keep showing up, and face your body’s limitations with grit.

When in the gym, it is usually occupied mainly by gym bros. This is also why it is a perfect setting to defy gendered stereotypes and channel feminine energy in a room full of testosterone. Femininity can be strong and defiant, especially in an environment where hypermasculinity is bred. There is so much power in women who lift and match the masculine attitudes that are promoted in society. It’s an inner power, and it can be used as motivation to push limits.

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Talazen Smith

U Mass Amherst '23

Talazen is a Spring 2021 Her Campus member for UMass Amherst. She is a Junior majoring in Legal Studies and minoring in Sociology. She is also a Content Editor for the UMass chapter, a writing tutor in the UMass Writing Center, and a member of Alpha Chi Omega.
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