Ronda Rousey’s UFC Hall of Fame Induction: a Cultural Symbol Proving That Strong is Beautiful

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Ronda Rousey will be the first woman inducted into the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Hall of Fame on July 5th, showing the importance and cultural acceptance of strong women. Rousey was the first American women to win an Olympic medal in Judo, winning bronze in 2008 and recorded four out of five of the fastest finishes in UFC Women Banton Weight history.

As an advocate for female strength and body positivity,  Rousey has encouraged the beauty of physical strength, emboldening young women to have self-confidence and embrace their own bodies.

“If I can represent the body type of women that aren’t represented much in media, then I’d be happy to do that.”,  Rousey said to the New York Times.“When women say going on publications that are directed at men is somehow demeaning, I don’t think that’s true. I think that’s one effective way to change the societal standard women are held to.”

The standard of societal beauty has progressed within the past 20 years and it’s because we are realizing that exposure to all beauty is important and valuable to the education of the public. The reason we are seeing diversity is because of the exposure effect.

In an interview with NBC, social scientist Dr. Frank Niles explains, “the exposure effect is a basic psychological idea.  The more we are exposed to something, the more attracted to it we may become. As a society, we have become more aware of the need and the value of diversity, and I think it is safe to say there are more people of color in positions of cultural visibility across a wider range of platforms.”

Declared as one of People magazine “Most Beautiful”, tennis star Serena Williams has had to overcome criticism for her strong physic and defend her beauty.  “I love my body, and I would never change anything about it. ” said Williams to Self magazine.”I’m not asking you to like my body. I’m just asking you to let me be me because I’m going to influence a girl who does look like me, and I want her to feel good about herself.”

The education of health is more important than defining what is beautiful. It is a dangerous and fine line to walk as body awareness and self-confidence begins during adolescence. And with the idea of thinness being push in publications and broadcast on television it becomes a message that plays on a loop for young women to watch.

Despite societal pressure to conform to a particular body shape, many other women have also spoken out about embracing strong physical beauty and the importance of self-confidence. Mia Kang, former model who has appeared in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, has found happiness in embracing her curves and physical fitness. Despite having a successful career in modeling, she has expressed her struggles with eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and how Muy Tai transformed her sense of self  in an interview with Meghan Kelly at NBC.

“The  [modeling] industry has a standard of beauty that is unattainable and isn’t focused on health, and that needs to change. I become physically strong,  which made me mentally strong, which then transpired to every aspect of my life. I learned about myself, I learned to love my body. I learned to respect my body.”

While many role models such as Ronda Rousey, Serena Williams, and Mina Kang have spoken about embracing their bodies as women, there is still a long journey ahead in changing society’s ideals of the female body. Rousey’s induction in to the UFC Hall of Fame is just a stepping-stone in celebrating the mental and physical strength of women.

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