10 In fitness

#shesquats aka Instabutts aka Does she actually squat?

A few weeks ago there was a new girl in my Crossfit class. She had the “perfect” figure – small waist and a round Instagram-perfect butt. I am on Instagram a lot and I know what kind of a butt goes with #shesquats and gets a million likes – she had one of those.

There are so many seemingly fitness related hashtags on Instagram that bring up photos of butts. May I present exhibit a, b and c:

How much of this looks to be about fitness and strength? Well, Lauren Fisher on top right, obviously, but the rest??

I’ll let you ponder for a moment.








Strong glutes are very useful for running, lifting, jumping and sports in general, but a big round butt does not actually equal a strong butt. The new girl I mentioned could not squat a medicine ball, never mind an empty barbell. Her butt was pure genetics, yet she could have been all over social media hashtagging away in a way that makes girls think that you can ‘make’ a figure like that by squatting and lungeing and so on, and that it doesn’t matter what body type you have to begin with.

But it does matter what body type you have. Round butts are like thigh gaps or ‘toned’ slim upper arms or skinny waists – they exist on hourglass body types because of genetics and low body fat. Of course exercise helps, but compare a black or a Latino woman to a white non-hourglass figured white woman and you know what I’m talking about.

Super lean Crossfit girls do have nice butts as well, but they are generally not massive and these girls also have solid midriffs and solid thighs – they have a whole lot more muscles than just instabutts.

Thankfully I know I lot of women who love to lift heavy and do not do it to “work on their -insert peach emoji here-“. They lift because it feels awesome to be strong and they know that strong glutes help you move better, and help you run faster and longer.

This morning I listened to a Barbell Shrugged podcast called ‘How to add mass to dat ass’. I was hoping to hear something sensible but actually the guys just talked about how great big female butts are. A bit disappointing. This whole world’s gone to pot butt.

So what I can’t decide is this – Are butt photos empowering for women? Is it actually just the same thing as me posting pictures of my biceps and traps that I’m proud of? Am I just old and old-fashioned and jealous of instabutts? Is getting a larger/rounder butt really a strong enough motivation for some women to keep working out?

Is this your reason?

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  • Reply
    Katie G
    March 9, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    I think its great more women are lifting weights and working on fitness/health, however I feel a little sorry for those only seeking certain aesthetic goals. Sure, it’s attractive and I’d like to be built like that….On the other hand, is part of it all about being attractive to men? Like it used to be all about having big boobs, suddenly all the memes are about ‘she squats’.
    I saw an ‘Insta famous’ girl in real life who is all about her ‘big booty’ and strong body, the reality is that she was absolutely tiny, all careful poses/smoke and mirrors. Or maybe, I’m just a jealous older hater because she looks that good in a thong (& trust me, she’s wearing one in every 5 pictures!)
    I’m still very much in the early stages of lifting and can’t yet squat my body weight, I’d rather make that my objective over dreaming of the body (or booty) I’ll never have. On the other hand, if lifting more gets me into a shape I feel more confident about? Brilliant!

    • Reply
      March 10, 2017 at 8:38 am

      It’s funny you say people in real life look so much different – I met a famous influencer once and she had the most beautiful smile and was such a lovely person but on insta she doesn’t smile at all and just tries to look all sultry and whatnot.

      As for butts, do guys REALLY care though or is this some kind of a THING women have created – like the thigh gaps and crazy stenciled eyebrows? 😉

  • Reply
    March 8, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    I’m really proud of my ass – because I built it from nothing.. Yes, I like the way it looks but I love it because it is STRONG. It helps me lock out a deadlift that’s over 2.5x my body weight.

    I hate the “fitspo” bullshit of some girl in a thong, that borders on softcore porn.

    • Reply
      March 10, 2017 at 8:40 am

      Whoa, that is some heavy deadlift! And I like that you like your butt because you know it’s got some true substance that you built through hard work!

  • Reply
    Anna @AnnaTheApple
    March 8, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    I fully agree with you that some people are blessed with good genes. We all know that person who doesn’t exercise but has the seemingly perfect body.
    I actually don’t mind the butt photos. Well, not the naked butt photos or sexualised fitspo ones – let me be clear. I think fitness can be motivated by several different reasons. Health, strength, function…but also aesthetics. There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, of working out for the sake of wanting to look good naked/good in that dress etc. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a big part of why I lift weights. My main reason is to keep strong and injury-free for running, but I’ve grown to love it more and more for how it’s shaped my body in a way running never did. I like a shapely bum and will purposefully exercise to give it a nice shape and size. It’s exactly like men wanting those “tank top” arms with bulging biceps. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But I agree that Instagram has become a bit ridiculous with butt poses and arching backs…

    • Reply
      March 9, 2017 at 8:35 am

      I totally appreciate seeing a nice butt (or nice delts or triceps or quads) on insta photos ;), I just don’t get when the photos are ALL about the butt and just the posed ones like you said with half turns and ached backs. You, by the way, have a totally perfect instabutt 😀 And you run fast and lift so thumbs up from me!

  • Reply
    March 8, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Found myself nodding along to all of this! I’m very much like you in that a big part of my motive for exercising is to see what my body can do – make it strong/fast, lift heavy etc. The way my body has changed because of this is a lovely little bonus, but it’s not my ‘why’.

    I don’t take posed photos of me flexing on my social media channels (bar the one exception when I did a diet improvement and wanted to show the results) but that’s mostly because it’s not who I am and to be honest I don’t think anyone else cares to see pictures of me posing. But I’m all for body confidence and think it’s great that people feel good enough about themselves to post those pictures (i’d unfollow pretty quickly if that’s all they were about though!). I just wish they’d back those photos up with some fitness related achievements.

    Great post!

    • Reply
      March 9, 2017 at 8:40 am

      It would be an interesting ‘research project’ to follow some of these people and see how long- years/decades – a butt-goal will keep someone exercising. I’m genuinely curious as I’m old enough now to have so many other reasons for exercising other than looking a certain way. When I was overweight in my 20s, being skinny was never enough of a goal to keep me working out. I always quit after a while. I am definitely the person who sticks with fitness when I see how my endurance/strength/skills improve and not when I analyze my looks month in and month out.

  • Reply
    March 8, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    I love the butt-centric side of fitspo because it’s nice to see a movement praising women for being bigger. That and I have a genetically nice round butt so it’s a trend I can achieve for the first time ever 😉

    • Reply
      March 9, 2017 at 8:41 am

      Trendy Jem! But yeah, I get it, I think I am a little bit jealous of your butt 🙂

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