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There is a mirror

There is a mirror and I think it’s laughing at me. It stands defiant, sparklingly clean, in the gym and the only reason I notice this mirror, if you are wondering, is not because I always look in it. No, in fact I try to avoid looking at it – I know what I look like post-run, and it’s definitely more Ugly Betty than Swetty Betty SS13, I tell ya. I mean, really, has anyone ever looked like this in the gym:

Sweaty_Betty_leggings_jacket
Committing crimes of sexy right there

But I know the mirror is there. Because every time I am standing near, I cannot help but notice what it does to the poor cretins that step foot inside. Pre-workout, post-workout, there is a classic move I always see: a side-on, tuck in the tummy, inhale deeply, flatten stomach with one hand, run through your hair with another, thing, that every woman seems to do. It’s like every girl is trying to be the Hollywood version of themselves. I even managed to get a shot of someone doing it, whilst she was taking a phone selfie, and I really hope for my sake she doesn’t happen to read online social media blogs:

photo-11
Is this cool or really, really tragic

I think there is something about fitness that has become gendered. It strikes me a pursuit that seems to have been claimed as ‘male’: glistening muscles, Men’s Health magazine and protein shakes, they all spell out testerone, power, machoness. The man that can lift 90KG is fit version of Christian Grey, the gym answer to Donald Trump: strong, potent, capable they all get their way. But put that power in reverse – a woman that lifts weights, boxes, has strong calf muscles and listens to Tiesto whilst walking around like a badass mutherfucker – is seen as butch. We seem to be generally repulsed by the concept of a muscly female. Generally speaking, we don’t find muscles chic:

Body-Builder-1898689

How do you feel? Replused? Odd, isn’t it. Yes, perhaps it’s because it doesn’t ‘suit’ the female form – but do big, bulging muscles truly suit anyone? They aren’t natural  We aren’t born looking like we’re hiding tin cans of spinach under our skin. Or perhaps it’s because so many of our responses are ingrained – things drilled into us slowly, subtly through advertisement, slogans, conditioned ideas of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. I blame television for this: I’ve literally never seen a washing-up advert that involves a guy – do guys’ hands not need to be softened through the bubbly goodness of Fairy Liquid, too? Can women not handle nuts?

This annoys me.
This annoys me.

We’ve got a long way to go in the 21st century. I actually blame Instagram a bit – I think it pushed us back 10 years, allowing women to fulfil stereotypes of what it means to ‘be a woman’: photos of cupcakes, make-up, arty cups of coffee and full red lips, we started to create a ‘fashion edit’ of our femaleness, allowing our reality to become marred by a false sense of self through pictures. It’s interesting to see how social media is used differently by the genders, as it really shows a lot about what we are trying to ‘project’ to the world: 

Sourced from Information is Beautiful - check out the site, it's amazing

Sourced from Information is Beautiful – check out the site, it’s amazing

See the full graph here. As you can see, women love Pinterest and Instagram. They allow us to create our fantasy female worlds, really. In the meantime, gender is increasingly affecting everything, from food to television as we ‘share’ more and more about ourselves online – but why is it an assumption commonly made that if a bloke orders a veggie burger there is something wrong with him, ? Meat = man. And why are programmes about drugs and gang violence for guys, when neither men nor women in South West London have ANY idea what it would be like to actually exist in the world of Breaking Bad?

This is a manburger

This is a manburger

Now what am I suggesting we do about this? Well I don’t think the entire male population should go vegan (although I will be for the month of January, more on this soon), but I do think sometimes we need to think, speak up, tweet up, a little more. Even if it’s just a few characters to Sainsbury’s about the dower-looking women that front their ad campaigns; as my mum would say: the squeaky wheel gets the oil. We spend so long online telling other the kind of person we are, we should also take some time, and exploit the fantastic open space of the internet, to let the decision-makers know who we’re not, also.

So, my friends, it’s time you got sqeaking. 

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5 thoughts on “There is a mirror

  1. Great post! Very well-written.

    While I must admit I am do not find the female bodybuilder attractive, I also do not find most male bodybuilders attractive either! As you say it’s not natural. However, I have to give respect to the bodybuilders, both male and female, that are able to manipulate their physiques in such a way WITHOUT the use of steroids or other drugs. It takes an incredible amount of time, work, and dedication to do such a thing, and those who are successful deserve a pat on the (very large) back.

    I do have to disagree with the comment about Instagram contributing to the stereotypes regarding women. Most of the accounts I follow on Instagram are of the fitness-type and there are MANY muscular women who are strong yet still feminine, I find inspiration on a daily basis reading about these women’s lives, getting up extra early to get in a lifting session before heading to work as a nurse and then coming home to take care of the baby for example. I don’t doubt that there are thousands of women posting pictures of cupcakes and flowers and other stereotypical things, however I think if you look around you will find just as many women posting pictures of barbells, plates of post-workout meat, and their hard-earned muscles. The great thing is that they don’t care what society thinks!

  2. Thanks for your kind words – so glad you enjoyed reading it! I agree, I don’t think either male or female body-builders are attractive – although perhaps people are more OK with men bulding their bodies to a ridiculous degree, whereas it’s seen as ‘wrong’ when girls do it. Pat on the large back for being able though – I wouldn’t last a second lifting all those weights! I agree with you about Instagram, I think you can find both, but I do think girls make themselves to seem more ‘girly’ than they truly are because of all the photo-taking – it’s the nature of the beast I suppose! You’ll have to let me know what your favourite Instagram accounts are – I shall follow them too 🙂

    Angelica

    • Yes I agree on society seeing male bodybuilders as more acceptable. This post came at a funny time; last night my boyfriend and I stumbled across a video on YouTube called “Top 5 Extreme Bodybuilders” or something along those lines, and we were both horrified at what we witnessed during those 6 minutes. Lol.

      A few of my favourite Instagram accounts are @bshaefit @kmaecags @ladyfit @fitamysuzanne @mankofit to name a few. There are lots more but I would say those are my top inspirations 🙂

  3. I agree too much muscles on ANYONE is NOT cute – not like that. I think it should look moderately natural for your body type, height, and build – proportionate please. I don’t use Instagram or Pinterest – I avoid FB and only handle Twitter properly as it isn’t image infested and I blog. However, if it weren’t for blogging I wouldn’t have that either! I’m working on being happy with myself and its really difficult when you have silly models walking around in lingerie in Paris on a Victoria’s Secret commercial – granted they’ve earned that body but I don’t want it fed to me as though its the “norm” because it is not. Great article and happy Holidays Jelly (fun name) – Iva

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