The Best of #GirlsWhoLift

I really have to hand it to Refinery29 for their plethora of body positive stories recently. On the heels of their gallery of real guys’ butts (which itself came on the heels of galleries featuring real women’s butts and boobs) comes a piece about the hashtag #GirlsWhoLift, along with a gallery of some of Instagram’s fiercest… well, girls who lift — and squat, and build, and otherwise kick some major fitness arse. And it’s awesome. It’s really, really awesome.

The story springboards off of the subreddit XXFitness, which, as Refinery29 describes it, is “where the #girlswholift… live.” The hashtag itself runs the gamut on social media, with a healthy following on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Vine; many of the women who use it, however, find their online “home” at XXFitness. I didn’t know about the subreddit before reading Refinery29’s post, so I went over to check it out — and I’m really glad I did. From what I could see on my brief sojourn, the community is warm, welcoming, and supportive, with a strong emphasis not just on fitness, but also (and perhaps more importantly) on body positivity. They’ve also got a sense of humor, with images like this one being particular favorites:

They’ve got an excellent FAQ for beginners, a variety of weekly threads that cover everything from developing good nutrition to celebrating successes (the weekly successes post is called “Feats of Thorsday,” which I love), and a terrific support system both for veterans and newbies. Speaking of newbies, today’s thread is Newbie Tuesday, so if you’ve got a question — any question at all, no matter how silly you think it might be — go ahead and ask it; XXFitness will do their best to answer it. The thread’s description is particularly entertaining, so even if you don’t have a question, I still recommend checking it out. Remember how I said they were funny? I’m not kidding. They’re hilarious, and it’s amazing.

For reasons I don’t think anyone has ever been able to justifiably explain, there’s been something of a stigma against female weightlifting for a pretty substantial portion of time. It seems to have something to do with perceived notions of femininity; again, for reasons that make absolutely no sense, it’s been deemed “bad” to appear “masculine” if you’re a woman — with strength and muscle being randomly assigned as “masculine” traits — and vice versa. In recent years, though, the idea of women lifting has started gradually to trickle away: Women like Sarah Robles, Samantha Wright, and Rebekah Tiler have taken both the weightlifting world and the Internet on by storm, giving us positive role models of tremendous strength — both literally and figuratively — to look up to. And the women of XXFitness and #GirlsWhoLift? They're right there alongside them. They offer advice and constructive criticism, and, as Refinery29 notes, they’re “just as quick to post about a less-than-great leg day as they are to update their maximum weights, and that’s maybe the best thing about following these ladies: They’re legit, and they’re honest.”

I’ve only started actively working out this year — probably due to a combination of not living in the city anymore (which means substantially less literal running around on a daily basis) and realizing I’m getting older — and I generally stick with cardio-based activities like biking. My boyfriend recently got himself a kettlebell, though, which has the bonus of effect of piquing my interest in the sorts of strength training you can do with them, too. If I do decide to hop on the kettlebell train — and the strength training wagon in general — you can get that XXFitness will be the first place I go to get started. And I can’t wait.

Images: Imgur; arcanepotatox, winkyface36, jenny4330, haley_bauser, livy.harp/Instagram