“Shoulders Are The New Cleavage” Revisited

A few weeks ago before I headed up to the beach in Maine for a long holiday weekend over July 4, I posted about how I learned that Shoulders Are The New Cleavage.

See Facebook post below…

 One of my clients was telling me how her daughter had shared an article about fashion trends with her and the title was “Shoulders Are The New Cleavage” ==> http://bit.ly/ShouldersRNewCleavage.

I thought, what an awesome concept and I’m sure many women would appreciate it as it applies to body image.

Then I thought a little bit further about it and it hit home even more because I could remember a time in my adult life, not too long ago, that I was seriously considering getting implants.

No joke.  I was even talking to one of my clients about it recently as we were discussing how common it was for women in the fitness industry to have implants.

It was 2009, the year of my Kung Fu black belt test.  I was training so hard for my test that I had leaned out quite a bit and my breast size had reduced significantly.  My training was geared more towards that of an endurance athlete for conditioning, speed, and agility versus building muscle and strength like training for the Iron Maiden Challenge.

The moment it hit me was about a month after my Kung Fu black belt test. I was living in Arlington, VA at the time and I was deciding what to wear to my “Farewell – Moving Back To Boston” party that some of my clients and friends were having for me.

I tried on a somewhat cleavage-revealing top that I wanted to wear, with a push-up bra, and even with a push-up bra I could not finagle any cleavage or any breast fullness whatsoever. I had to find another top to wear.

These are pictures from that night with the top I decided to wear…

It sounds so silly, but I felt so awful about myself and my body and I wondered if I would ever get my breasts back, although I wanted them right at that moment so that I could wear what I wanted to wear!  It really left me feeling down that night and it was at that moment that I decided, that’s it; I’m saving up for implants.

As women, there is so much pressure on us to have the “perfect” body from breasts to booty that it can take a toll on our self esteem and it can take a toll on even simple things like picking out an outfit for a party.

I was not born with big breasts, and it’s something that I definitely struggled with as a teenager when many of my female friends and classmates were developing breasts and I pretty much remained on the “Itty Bitty Titty Committee”… And I did not just make up “Itty Bitty Titty Committee”.  That was actually a real thing that the boys in Junior High made up. Kids are cruel, I swear.

Beyond my teenage years, as I grew into a young woman, I didn’t obsess too much about having smaller sized breasts.  Instead I always bought push-up bras or bras with extra support and that seemed to work fine.

Then fast forward to September 2009 and there I was having a thought about saving up for implants that I never thought I would ever have.

Getting implants goes against everything I stand for about loving the body you were born with.  Embracing the beauty of what makes your body different.

Fortunately, soon after that moment, I moved to Boston and became very busy re-building my personal training business in a new city and I wasn’t training for my Kung Fu black belt anymore.  While I was training for my black belt I was only strength training 1-2 times per week, training in kung fu 3-5 times per week and teaching spinning and kettlebell conditioning classes on top of that… and running sometimes as well (who knows why???).  After I moved to Boston I was strength training 3-4 times per week and teaching spinning, kettlebell conditioning, and body conditioning classes on top of that… and STILL running (what the??).

I was not training in kung fu at that time because I was still looking for a kung fu school in the Boston area.

As time went on and I continued to strength train more, and lift heavier weights in my training, and spin less, and run less.  I started to build more muscle and more shape, and not just get my breasts back, but I also built muscle underneath my breasts that helped to lift my breasts.  Yes, I realize this may be TMI, but I believe it’s an important topic for women.  I know that I am not alone in these thoughts.

I remained just as lean as I was training for my Kung Fu black belt test, BUT I was also building muscle through strength training more often, rather than conditioning, spinning, and running my breasts off, and that’s what helped me to build shape.

As I lifted more, I thought less and less about the size of my breasts and thought more about getting strong.

Less than a year later from that moment in September 2009, I forgot that I even considered saving up for implants.

A little over a year later from that moment in September 2009, in October 2010, my priority became training for my RKC Kettlebell Certification that I would attend in April 2011.

Two years later from that moment in September 2009, in September 2011, I started to turn my training focus to training for the Iron Maiden Challenge.

Breast implants became irrelevant.

Becoming strong became mandatory.

Beyond my breasts I have always had shapely arms and I’ve always loved my shoulders.  My arms and shoulders have become more shapely as I have continued to strength train more and lift heavy weights.

So you see, I LOVED this concept that “Shoulders Are The New Cleavage” because we can all lift weights to build sexy shoulders and there is no surgery necessary.

As I mentioned previously, in the fitness industry it is very common for women to get implants.  (Ironically, I wrote this post last Friday July 11, 2014 and T-Nation JUST came out with this article today July 15, 2014, “Breast Implants For Girls Who Lift”). For most women, when they become fit and lean out, their breasts get smaller.  Breast implants are extremely common amongst body builders and figure competitors but really amongst all women in the fitness industry as I know both group fitness instructors and personal trainers who have them.  There is just as much pressure on women to have a desirable breast size and shape as there is for women to have a “perfect” body.

I have a lot of friends and colleagues who have implants, and I do not judge them for this decision because it is their choice.  I know they are all happy with their choice and how it’s changed their bodies and I COMPLETELY support that. In this post I’m referring to myself and about how my desire to once get breast implants contradicted my beliefs and what I advocate as a personal trainer, coach, and role model.

Also, I cannot speak to women who have had mastectomies. As women our breasts are important to us, they are part of what makes us women, they are part of what makes us feminine.  So I can understand wanting to rebuild and reshape something that is so important to us as women by getting implants after having something so traumatic as a mastectomy.  I believe that this is a subject matter that should be discussed separately.

However, what I am suggesting, since breast implants are so common in the fitness industry, as women in the fitness Industry, if we advocate embracing the bodies that we were born with, achieving the best version of ourselves versus trying to achieve an unrealistic Barbie doll ideal, and promote a focus on strength and what you can do and not how you look or the number on the scale, then, as women in the fitness industry, if we get implants ourselves, doesn’t that send the wrong message to those women for whom we are a role model?

Instead, wouldn’t it be better to advocate building STRONG SEXY SHOULDERS as a nice “side effect” of lifting weights, getting strong, and focusing on what you can DO instead of focusing on how you look or how much cleavage you have?

As I was scrolling through pictures for this post, I realized that, unknowingly, I have always dressed by this motto by wearing tops and dresses that reveal more shoulder and arms than cleavage.

Shoulders Are the New Cleavage – 2006

 Shoulders Are the New Cleavage – 2007

 Shoulders Are the New Cleavage – 2008

Shoulders Are the New Cleavage – 2009

 Shoulders Are the New Cleavage – 2010

Yes, a lobster bib counts as a shoulder revealing top 🙂

Shoulders Are the New Cleavage – 2011

 Shoulders Are the New Cleavage – 2012

 Shoulders Are the New Cleavage – 2013

 I spent most of 2013 in my Iron Body Studios tank top as my shoulder revealing top because we moved into our new facility last year. Not much time for socializing! 🙂

Shoulders Are the New Cleavage – 2014


 Forget the cleavage and show off those sexy strong shoulders and arms because Shoulders ARE the New Cleavage.


9 Comments on ““Shoulders Are The New Cleavage” Revisited

  1. Artemis, this is such an important discussion. Strong women are redefining personal body image and changing society’s collective images, which has altered female body shape beyond recognition. When hormones are well regulated, and a woman has lower body fat, her breasts are smaller. It is a sad fact that American women’s increasing large breast size is in part caused by diet and unhealthy hormones in meat and dairy. Since I have gained strength, my cup size has decreased, and my breast tissue is has more lift and smoothness.

  2. Thank you! I think this is an important topic that is not discussed openly enough. I hope to generate some discussion based upon this post. I believe that often the desire for breast implants is directly related to the overall body image challenges that women battle daily.

  3. Artemis, Your shoulders look fantastic! I don’t know why so many dudes are obsessed with breast size. You are the complete package and should be very proud of your physical accomplishments. Thanks for sharing this part of your life with us, I’m sure it wasn’t easy. Keep up the great work! Paul

    Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2014 16:07:11 +0000 To: pvalpreda@msn.com

  4. Thank you Paul! I think this is an important issue for women as it relates to body image and it’s not discussed enough openly. No, it’s not easy to share these things, but no one is forcing me to. It is my choice and I do it because I know it helps people even though there are always a few haters as well 🙂 … thank you very much for your kind words and positive feedback.

  5. I found your blog via Tony Gentlecore’s article that was just posted and I am happy to have! I am always on the lookout for more strength training female athletes, especially those that have embraced the bodies that they have earned and are proud to showoff their progress!

    I recently blogged my own post on body image and how it has changed since I started lifting. My perception of what is attractive has changed, but I have also become much more comfortable in my own everchanging (growing) body!


  6. Jennifer, thank you! As one woman who read that post commented to me, “The confidence that comes with lifting is the new cleavage” to her… Lifting is really the New Cleavage 😉 … btw, I read your post and I LOVED it! Keep doing what you are doing!

    LOVED this:

    “You don’t need to be on a weight loss journey to improve yourself or to acknowledge your progress and your body acceptance. You don’t need to aspire to “look like a beast” or to gain weight or get more muscly.

    You need to be able to look in the mirror and see yourself for the person that you are becoming and recognize how far you have come already. Look in the mirror and see past the imperfections and the body hatred and just embrace the you that is looking back. Learn to love yourself. Embrace who you are becoming by loving who you are today.”

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