Monday, March 31, 2014

Women Judging Each Other at the Gym

One common reason I hear for people, especially women, not to engage in physical fitness is because they are afraid people are judging them. Now, if I've learned anything during my time on this little blue dot, I have learned that people afraid of others judging them are often the ones doing the most judging. I work out at home at the moment, but not out of fear of judgement, just because it is more convenient and having a work out instructor tell me what exercises to do is a lot cheaper than hiring a personal trainer. We also have an elliptical/cross trainer in our house, so at the end of the day, it's really only about 20 paces from the elliptical to the shower, and then another 8 to my bed to binge watch Dance Moms.

But I used to work out at a gym and would do it again if it were convenient for me. Because through my life I've developed an attitude of not caring what others think (for the most part, it still gets me every once in a while), I never really thought twice about people at the gym judging me. Sure, I've been a little embarrassed when trying to figure out how a machine works and I'm 99% sure I'm doing it wrong, or self-conscious when the guy lifting weights is obviously trying to plot his next move to hit on you (while you're both a sweaty mess), but mostly I just do my thing, put on my tunes, get my fitness on and then go home. I guess I don't think about what other people are doing at the gym (apart from the 80 year old man who used to wear a blueberry blue sweatsuit with matching sweatbands with his headband--but mostly I'm just giving him props because he's like 80 years old and coming to the gym), so I'm not really spending my time worrying what other people think of me.

Okay, there is one exception to my rule of non-judgement: when I lived in Budapest for six months and I found there was this tiny subculture of Hungarian men at this particular establishment I visited who came to the gym in flip-flops and lifted really heavy weights. In the end, though, I wasn't making ascertains on their character, simply worried for the accident and subsequent trip to the hospital that was waiting to happen.

All too often, though, I see Facebook statuses where (mostly women, I'm honestly not sure men even notice this kind of thing) randoms at the gym are called out for wearing a full face of make-up to the gym. In a culture where women are expected to look good at all times, it is always bizarre to me that we then try to bring the same women down a peg for "following the cultural rules." It's like the juxtaposition of men who want a thin girl, but also a girl that can eat the same amount of food he can (spoiler: my boyfriend is 6'6" and I'm 5'1"....if he and I ate the same amount of food I would be obese in two months). Or the guy who says he wants a naturally pretty woman, but then balks at what women look like without make-up. Or the people in college who feel the need to openly make fun of women who wear heels or skirts to class. Last time I checked, feminism was about the freedom to wear a skirt and heels to class or sweatpants and tennis shoes and both of those choices being okay.

Really though, why does it affect your day so much that you need to make a Facebook status or a tweet about Susie Q at the gym and her make-up? Maybe she has three kids and has to rush to the gym after work to get in her workout and doesn't have time to take off her make-up. Maybe make-up makes her feel more confident when she's doing something physically challenging. Maybe she is trying to pick up on random men at the gym. Maybe she just wants to look her best at all times. So what? Does that affect the quality of your workout?

As women, we are often conditioned to compete with one another. When a guy we like comments on a girl being pretty, we have to find her flaws and reason that she's, you know, not that pretty. I've even seen famous female YouTubers and Bloggers get their pictures submitted to TheDirty just because they are attractive and successful, and someone somewhere feels that much better for a nanosecond about themselves because that horrible Nik guy doesn't deem them a ten (who does he even think is a ten, anyway?).

Why should we care what other women do, especially when they are trying to make a concerted effort to improve themselves? Maybe we should all just be a bit more supportive of one another. Besides, we're all a sweaty mess at the end of a workout anyway...and if that woman looks glamorous doing it then props to her.

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