I could say I don’t get why women find a belly that looks like a breakfast entrée sexy, but then, I guess it might be hard for some women to understand why men’s eyes pop when a woman who looks like she’s wearing water balloons as big as honeydew melons jiggles by.
I like that jiggle on a woman; it suggests a cuddly softness that feels so comforting on a cold winter night. Or a hot summer day. Or any other time. Which is why I was so disturbed to learn from Yahoo! News that there are now Victoria’s Secret models who have super-taut rectus abdominis muscles. I’m not crazy about six-packs on men—and even not crazier about them on women.
I know, you ladies with six-pack abs are now thinking that I’m trying to low-body-fat-shame you into having soft bellies. But it’s not just an aesthetic thing. It’s also a health thing.
And by health, I mean unhealth.
Fitness expert Molly Galbraith says in the Yahoo! article that the only way a gal can get her abs to show is by doing lots of work in the gym and in the kitchen to melt away all-over body fat that nature puts there for good reason. “While that level of effort is definitely doable, it’s often not sustainable or healthy over the long term,” Galbraith said. “To some degree, absolutely you can make the best of what you were given, but you have to keep in mind that it might be excessive stress on your body to change the shape that you were given more than what your body is comfortable with.”
Galbraith knows first-hand. After three years of extreme dieting and over-training for figure competitions, she lost her period, experienced crippling fatigue and brain fog, and developed polycystic ovarian syndrome, adrenal dysfunction and an autoimmune disorder.
“It was my body rebelling,” she said. “Nowadays, I just want to look good, feel good, and feel healthy and strong.”
My hasty and incomplete research showed that that’s more than good enough for most women to catch the eye of most men. Contrast this Yahoo! Answers comment from a woman—“Seeing a girl with abs and muscles shows she cares about her body and that’s a turn on”—and this comment by a man—“I like a girl who is herself.”
And then there are these comments by a blogger at Single Black Male.org:
“I like a woman to be as close to perfection as reality would have. What that means is that I don’t want to date a woman whose stomach is more chiseled than mine. It’s just not natural. Stomachs should be flat, but choosing between six-pack abs and a little pudge, and I’ll take the pudge every day. Be healthy, be happy and be confident, and in my eyes you’re beautiful.”
On the other hand, ab work is important for men. Pilates expert, celebrity trainer and fitness author Chris Robinson told WebMD that men are far more likely than women to have weak back muscles, and strengthening the abs—or “core”—reduces the likelihood of lower back pain.
Which means that those guys on romance novel covers would make great partners for women who like to move furniture around—fun and functional, for sure.
Still, I have to say that beer and waffles are meant to go into your stomach, not to be etched into your physique. None of the Fast Lane heroes is over-abbed. Flat tummies, toned shoulders, strong arms, yes. But more Matthew McConaughey than Arnold Schwarzenegger.
None of the Fast Lane heroines flashes her abs, either. Lara works out because it makes her feel good, Sushma is satisfied with her curves and Douglyss’s secret to staying slim is a steady diet of sugary chocolate cereal.
This is what my ladies are. And my gut feeling is that being themselves is what makes them attractive to their suitors.