The Female Form: Embrace Your Genetics and Find Beauty in Being Unique
The following is a guest post by Amber Larsen of Massage and Health by Amber Kim:
My body, my face, my features will never be repeated. How I look is not going to mimic the girl next to me in the gym. My body shape will not be the same as another female that I may be slightly jealous of because she’s thinner than me. My ass is going to be bigger and there is nothing I can do about it.
My genetics did it.
It's amazing - on average, most women will have about thirteen negative thoughts about their appearance per day. If you break it down, it means that every waking hour we think negatively about ourselves. I can’t lie; I know I have done the same. My ass is too big, my abs stick out, my latissimus dorsi is getting a bit too big because my bras are cutting into my skin (CrossFit did it).
According to cognitive behavioral psychology, the self-hate is called withdrawal emotions. These emotions make us want to withdraw from situations or things that are linked to the emotions that are causing us to feel this way. Essentially, you can say you can be withdrawing from yourself. This can cause us to either make drastic decisions, such as not to eat, or do things that can do us harm, or do the opposite - not take care of ourselves because we ask what’s the use? I hope in writing this it can shed some light as to why you body looks the way it does, and how to embrace that you are unique and to work with your genetics.
What exactly is genetics? Genetics is a wide domain, but in short it is the study of heredity, more specifically the characteristics we inherit from our parents. Our appearance, abilities, susceptibility to disease, and even life span is influenced by heredity. That is just skimming the surface of genetics, but an overall view is that your body shape and your abilities in the gym are inherited from your parents. So what does that say about my personal body? My lower half will always be bigger because it is inherited from my father side. My upper body will always be a wee bit smaller because it’s inherited from my mother’s side. The bottom line is, ladies, I will never weigh 110 pounds. Its not in my genetics, and you know what? I’m okay with that.
Many times the media portrays an “ideal size” for a woman, but you know what? For a healthy woman who eats correctly and exercises on a regular basis there is no ideal size. The reason is because genetically we are all different. There is nothing wrong with a woman who has a leaner, thinner body, because she may be genetically predisposed to having a leaner frame. There is also nothing wrong with a woman who tends to be stronger looking with a larger frame for the same reason. Both body images are different, but both are ideal based on each individual woman’s inherited genetics.
Is your view on your body slowly changing?
So take a good look at my body (yes this is more difficult for me then you think). This photo is from 2012 and this is me at 140 pounds. If you see, my body is a bit stocky, bulky, and (since I am 5”3’) technically overweight. By the way, you can see some of my cellulite and, yes, I did throw away my scale! My abs stick out and so does my ass.
You can see my body is made up of mostly fast-twitch muscle fibers, or type II muscle fibers. My muscles are different in that they contain a higher number of glycolytic enzymes, which means my muscles do very well anaerobically. Also, my body can be viewed as a bit of a subtype of fast twitch muscles in that I am efficient in strength movements and halfway decent at aerobic movements (not the best though). My body is adaptable with endurance training, but it will not be my strongest area of fitness. Bottom line, the body you see is genetically predisposed to strength work.
Now, a slow-twitch body will not look exactly like this. A slow-twitch body will be leaner because the muscle fibers tend to be longer. These muscles contain larger amounts of mitochondria and higher concentrations of myoglobin than my own body. Again, slow twitch muscle tissue is an inherited trait.
I am not super skinny (as you can see above), but it’s important to realize that each body is unique and has strengths and weaknesses. Each body is beautiful in its own right, and its important for all of you to embrace what makes you an individual. There is no ideal weight or look for any woman. Women look different based off of their genetic make up, and that’s truly a beautiful thing. Just think - no one will ever look exactly like you. And you have automatically inherited strengths that will help you in your fitness goals.
Embrace the person you are. I know it can be difficult to stop the negative self talk that your body does not look like the skinny Victoria’s Secret model, but you know what? Maybe you were never meant to look that way based off of your genetic heredity. Maybe you were meant to look strong and maybe you were built for strength, which is beautiful. Even if you are a leaner person who wishes to look stronger, well you can, even with a leaner frame, and you can also embrace that your body allows you to work efficiently aerobically based on your genetic make-up.
The image you have of your body should be positive. No one can be you, and no one can look exactly like you because you are genetically different. There is so much beauty in that. Embrace the genetic make up that make your body unique to those around you. I hope you will not be afraid to wear that bikini this summer or to workout without a shirt on. Your body is beautiful because its uniquely you.
This is my body. I have learned to embrace the body that allows me to do amazing things. I hope you will do the same.