Shouldn’t Wonder Woman Be Bigger?

Image: JD Hancock

Should I see Wonder Woman? I feel like her body is problematic, I hate anything Zack Snyder is even remotely involved in, I don’t really have time, I find loud noises a little distressing, war is very sad… What do you think? — No one really, but also all of you in a way

I cried in the first goddamn ten minutes of this movie, DUUURING a battle scene. Not because anything sad happened! I would see an entire other movie that was an expansion of this battle and style of fighting. It was like 300 without the overuse of slow-mo, with all women, with extremely cool horse/sword/archery tricks. Why does nothing else exist in the world that is anything like this battle? It was less about raw power and rage and more about technique and precision. I know this sounds like me dancing around not saying it was “feminine,” but this was literally historically true of actual Amazonian women — horses and archery were central to their fighting style because it leveled the playing field against men (I’m drawing from this book, which you should read). And this carries through the whole film, into the character, into her development — she’s allowed to be flawed but also skilled and the savior of the free world. Women: they really can have it all!

I’ve heard and seen a lot of criticism of Gal Gadot’s body, and, listen: I’m sick to death of hearing “she’s not perfect but.” I could go my entire life without ever hearing it again. No one ever needs you to put the words “she’s not perfect but” into their ears; I assure you that everyone is already thinking it because that is just how the world works.

One of the messages of this column has always been that strong does not look like what basically anyone thinks it looks like in women (we’re not even going to go down the path of “this is magical fiction and she is a literally a god”). Gal Gadot is not bulked to the nines, but she is also not nearly as thin as she once was. Building significant muscle, especially on women, takes on the order of years, not months or weeks. She worked out, and she was doing barbell complexes! I would like to see all the people declaring her too thin do a barbell complex. (Side note, articles about these workouts always focus on the conditioning work they do — bear crawls, rowing, et al — and then somewhere down at the bottom it’s like *obnoxious throat clearing/coughing* “and also they did some weightlifting.” The weightlifting was the important part! Not the toe touches and the walking!! That was the warm-up!!!!!)

Thank you to Katie Anne for lending her awesome physique to this thought experiment

Look — Wolverine used to be small too. Give Wonder Woman some sequels and maybe she’ll fill out a little. And hey, even if she wasn’t headed for the Crossfit Games, some of the other Amazonians were (refer again to graf one, where I cried watching them fight. It fucking ruled!)

I’m typically all for criticism and opinions and debating things to death, but I’m against criticizing this movie. Not now. Maybe someday when it’s old and dusty you can pick it apart and tell everyone how it wasn’t perfect; I will surely admit it wasn’t. But insofar as the movie is Good, deterring anyone from seeing it just stands in the way of all the good that this movie can do. Let women have things. Give the Hollywood blockbuster your dollars.

Hi Casey,

I’m building up to do the Female Physique program from Renaissance Periodization and hope to be doing this in another six months but just for fun, I don’t compete.

My question is when do you know you need a weightlifting belt? How do you work your way up to using a belt in your workouts? How do you choose which style/brand of belt to use? What moves do you use a belt with, and any other advice you can share?

Thanks in advance,


I’m reading this as “Wonder Woman wears a belt; should I?”

You never need to wear a belt; you can go on not wearing a belt forever, if you want. Stronger By Science has a nice article on the theory of why you’d wear a belt and when. Most people wear belts for squatting and deadlifting, some wear them for benching but you don’t really stabilize your core for benching to the same degree, so it seems they do it just to remind them to breathe or stay tight. I enjoy wearing a belt, though, and I’m glad I got one when I did because it removes perfect core stabilization as a limiting factor. You still have to do it — use your belt correctly, per that link above — but it just makes everything a bit easier.

I looked for thousands of years for any resource to tell me when to start wearing a belt. The best answer you will ever get is, “when you feel like you should.” People say things like this forgetting that people who are doing anything for the first time don’t know what it feels like when they should do anything, so this is not very helpful advice. The thing is you don’t want to start wearing one before you know your form/technique is good, which you can figure out by asking other people either in person or with form check videos and seeing how you feel — are you pulling your muscles all the time or insanely sore in some muscles but not others? Don’t do a belt. Are you just having trouble staying tight in your core when you’re lifting very heavy? Maybe time for a belt.

A decent rule of thumb about when to wear a belt is when you start to move from “beginner” strength numbers into novice/intermediate (there are strength standards sites that will give you some rough ideas about this). Eventually I decided that for women, belt time is something like when you are deadlifting 1.5–2 times your bodyweight, squatting 1–1.5 times your bodyweight, and benching .5-.75 times your bodyweight. If you’re smaller I’d go on the higher end of these numbers, and lower if you’re bigger. If your progress is stalling around there, I’d say that’s pretty normal. If you’re stalling on a 65-lb deadlift, that does not mean it’s time for a belt; it means you need to work on your form.

As for which belt, it’s a lot of personal preference! The link above covers the different belt types; I have a lever belt from Inzer and like it very much, because I think I would not like having to fasten and unfasten a pronged belt and my level of bloat doesn’t change enough that I have to adjust a lever belt ever. Get a color you like. That’s it! Soon you will be lifting [spoiler spoiler spoiler] over your head, like Wonder Woman.

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