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:
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:
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:
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?
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:
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?
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.