What is the lesson from Natalie Portman’s arms about contemporary femininity?

Weapon Natalie Portman. It is now impossible to pronounce these three words in a normal voice. Everyone has been confused since the first images of the star from the movie Thor: Love and Thunder first appeared. Everyone is intrigued. Here’s an example of the audience’s reactions on Twitter: “I’m filling out the passport form. I wrote in the religion section: Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor,” “I’m not going to make an indecent remark about Natalie Portman’s arms do not write., “and” Natalie Portman please ambush. ” on my face “(Sure you are free to ask, but have you seen her arms? She will literally kill you with her fistfight).

Portman said he “asked her to make her arms as big as possible” for Jane Foster’s character in the sequel directed by Taika Waititi, which she did. According to her fitness coach, Naomi Prendergast, the star has been doing a 90-minute workout at 4:30 a.m. for ten months to reach this level of fitness. It’s a routine that Portman calls “really nice”, but let’s remember again, after all, she’s an Oscar-winning actress. She drank protein-rich drinks. She does weight lifting exercises. She has all the factors to make it happen. In fact, does it all make sense? We are finally confronted with a superhero who can apparently throw giant hammers at the heads of villains.

Interestingly, the reaction was very festive: this is not usually the case when it comes to physically strong women. An Instagram account called “You look like a man” documents the ugly remarks people make to women with athletic physique. Here are just a few examples of “Leave the male verbs for men”, “When you sweat you look like you’re covered in bacon fat”, “Good luck if you have arthritis” and “Men do not want to go out with their dad”. “In the late 2000s, Madonna was attacked for protruding muscles from her protruding arms, as the well-known gossip website TMZ published several descriptions of her arms, such as” the arms of a corpse covered with protruding veins “and” awfully muscular “arms that look like they’re re-attached.” with the skeleton of a dead cow. Women are usually not allowed to deviate from the ideal of femininity. Of course, Madonna committed the double sin of being strong and in her fifties.

Another story dates back to Natalie Portman’s arms. When Linda Hamilton first appeared on screen in Terminator 2, the first shot we saw of Sarah Connor displayed the shiny, tense, bulging muscles of her arms as she performed bar pulls. Her physical appearance, very different from that of women in 1991, opened movie viewers wide open. Admiring Portman’s arms, however, comes at a time when attitudes toward female power are changing. More women lift weights, with 32.4 million posts under the hashtag #girlswolift [الفتيات اللاتي يرفعن الأوزان] on Instagram. There are many reasons to embrace this sport: In addition to helping build muscle, it improves cardiovascular, bone and joint health. Gunner Peterson, Khloe Kardashian’s personal trainer, recommends weightlifting as the number one way to get in shape.

“Muscle rewards you for your effort … it burns energy all the time. Gaining weights means you continue to burn calories, post-workout, at a higher rate than immediately after non-weight lifting exercises,” says he. Even former Spice Girls member Victoria Beckham, who looks like the last woman to wear a sports bra, lifts weights. “I’ve always been a little scared of weights, but it turns out I love it,” she told Grazia magazine recently. “I even have special gloves to wear while I exercise!”

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However, when it comes to the cultural portrayal of strong women, it always seems that the magic stems from the fact that they are still very rare. Or, as Holly Black wrote in Elephant magazine, “The term[vroulike krag]is overloaded with so many dimensions … Physical strength is an acceptable aspect of a male role play, but it’s still difficult to find rewards from women. “Every now and then it gets to the point of a gender obsession. Then Barack When Obama left office, Vogue celebrated the occasion with a “goodbye to Michelle Obama’s flawless arms.” a tangible reminder of her ability to roll up her sleeves and get things done ‘- apparently.

A woman’s appearance remains the number one indicator of her worth in many parts of the world. There’s a fact that women still win Oscars because they ‘make themselves ugly’ – gaining weight for the roles they play, or burying their faces behind artificial ugliness. The world rocks when celebrities like Adele and Rebel Wilson lose weight. A woman with curly arms is obsessive, but as long as she’s still beautiful, it’s okay. It manipulates the ideal of accepted femininity without undermining its foundations – by becoming unattractive to men. And let’s be honest, Portman’s arms are a great marketing tool in this context.

This involves risks. Women are already navigating through a world saturated with Instagram-ready templates of ideal female models. Trying to imitate them is both expensive and futile – in her feminist classic from the 1990s The Myth of Beauty, Naomi Wolf wrote: “Perfect beauty is perfect because it does not exist. The effect lies in the gap between desire and satisfaction … That space, in consumer culture, is a space profitable. “

The problem with this? The combination of capitalism and patriarchy is fatal. The endless search for a perfect version of ourselves has only been intensified by social media, giving its users the illusion of independence while expending expensive mainstream trends in their minds. The New Yorker’s Gia Tolentino describes the abuse that women experience in life under emerging capitalism, like a hamster sitting on a cupboard in pursuit of an exhausting ideal. Perhaps Barre classes – an expensive, effective, painful, results-based form of exercise – can make women feel good for the wrong reasons, she says.

But what if our changing relationship with female power becomes a way to get rid of some of these things? Writer Casey Johnston entered the world of weightlifting after realizing that it “can get stronger easier and faster than I ever thought, and that lifting can be the most rewarding and fun form of exercise I have ever tried. ” In one of her articles in her “Ask a Muscular Woman” series for Vice magazine (with which she now joins the She’s Young series on Substack), she offers comfort advice to her readers. One of them wants to know how she can lose weight. Johnston reformulates the question: “What I want from you is a friendlier, more generous and more comprehensive goal than what[gewigsverlies]the world is constantly trying to give us. “If you follow her philosophy, one’s enjoyment of physical strength may be related to the requirement to run your own business and take care of yourself, in a culture that empowers women. ‘ push another direction.

This sense of significance and empowerment is something that has echoed Burna Bell, author, journalist and weightlifter. She eventually won the 2022 Sports Performance Book for Stronger, in which she can pick up memoirs about her journey to twice her body weight. On Instagram, she wrote: “Weightlifting is not just a sport for me, it’s a metaphor for life. It has given me mental integrity and physical determination, in a world that is trying to deprive me of both. “

Indeed, Portman agrees. She said: “To get that reaction and you are seen as great, you realize ‘Oh, it has to be so different, to walk in between people and look like that … my feeling that I’m strong for the first time times in my life are so wild. ”

It seems almost radical in a world where women no longer guarantee their physical independence.

The movie “Thor: Love and Thunder” is currently showing in theaters

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