Building the Body


Body image is positively evolving through strength training

Baylee DeMuth / For The Post

For centuries, women have been pressured by society to obtain the “ideal body.”

The ideal body has been something most women struggle to obtain, fostering insecurities and self-loathing. Over time, body image has changed and women have become more confident in themselves through strength training.

“You have to get uncomfortable before you can get comfortable,” Megan Fish, a junior studying exercise physiology, said.

Fish is a member of CHAARG at Ohio University, which stands for Changing Healthy Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls. This is CHAARG’s third semester on OU’s campus, and Fish finds it exciting to see so many girls that want to better their lifestyle as part of the organization.

Sarah Olivieri | ILLUSTRATION

“CHAARG just wants to create a comfortable environment for girls to workout in,” Fish said. “Our aim is to help girls find out what’s their best fit to live a healthier life.”

Fish knew in high school that she loved exercising, but it wasn’t until she came to college where she began to try new things. She was able to find lifting and group fitness classes that helped her figure out where she belonged on the spectrum of health and fitness.

“I’m always finding new ways to exercise,” she said. “I do what feels good for my body.”

Lifting heavy weights is hard for some women to get into because out of their comfort zone and that can be difficult, Fish said.

Miranda Vandagriff, a graduate student studying public health, believes there is a misconception of getting bulky that causes women to avoid the heavy weights.

“Girls are really afraid of bulking up,” Vandagriff said. “If girls could get rid of the myths associated with bulking up, then I think it would be easier to get over the intimidation of lifting.”

“Personally, though, I did a lot of cardio-aerobic focused exercises, but I soon had to change the way I trained,” Vandagriff said.

Vandagriff went into recovery for an eating disorder her junior year that forced her to cut back on all of the cardio she was doing, but the experience introduced her to weightlifting.

“I found weightlifting to be very helpful and therapeutic for me,” she said. “That same year, I entered my first bodybuilding competition.”

Vandagriff competes in the National Physique Committee in the bikini division. From all of her competitions and weight lifting in general, she sees great benefits in strength training.

“Strength training not only helps with your body composition in terms of fat-muscle ratio, but it’s good in stabilizing your joints,” Vandagriff said. “You can also target train different muscle groups that can help you do other daily activities better.”

Social media is great in the sense that it gives women or other fitness gurus an outlet to put out good material, Vandagriff said. It’s an awesome way to educate women and show them that it’s not intimidating to lift weights.

Sarina Dirrig, a freshman studying journalism, thinks people get too caught up in other people’s opinions on what the ideal body should look like.

“I think it’s important to just worry about myself and my goals,” Dirrig said. “I really enjoy lifting because it allows me to physically see myself get stronger.”

The ideal woman’s body has definitely changed, but to a certain, more reasonable expectation, Vandagriff said.

“I think there’s a lot more attention being brought to the way women see themselves, but there’s always room for improvement,” Vandagriff said. “Women need to ignore the mentality that people are looking at them, because once they do that, they’ll be in good shape.”

Development by: Mijana Mazur / For The Post

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