Chronicles of the Gym: Getting “Sexy”

I suppose this is going to become a series. Unsurprising, considering, but frustrating nonetheless. There’s so much cultural baggage  surrounding women and exercise–thanks to the “beauty standard” that all women are expected to constantly adhere to, and strive for.

Women are supposed to look good–all the time. Even while exercising. We’re supposed to be exercising in order to look better. Everything we do is supposed to, in some way, be about men. We work out to get “sexy.” While we work out, we’re objects to stare at–bouncing, sweaty pieces of flesh for men to look upon, comment upon, and follow around for entertainment. We’re supposed to interrupt our workout to chat with you. We’re supposed to cease use of a machine if a man wants to use it, because his workout is a priority–he’s working out to become stronger and healthier–increasing our sexiness for his benefit is of lesser priority when it clashes with his needs.

From the moment I signed my contract for my gym membership, I’ve had numerous comments outside of the gym, regarding my purpose there.

“Trying to lose some weight, eh?”

“Oh, I can tell already! You look so much better!”

“Hey sexy!”

“Your ass is looking awfully good! That gym membership is paying off!” *stare*

“Trying to get a sexy six pack, huh?”

Every time, I protest.

“I’m not there to lose weight.””

“I don’t care if I lose weight–I don’t care if I gain weight. I’m trying to build strength and endurance.”

*deadpan stare* “I’m not working on my ass. I’m training for a hike this summer.”

“Sexy has nothing to do with it. Yes I want a six pack. It’s messed up to just assume I’m working out to get sexy.”

Then come the protests.

“Oh, but you look good! You’re getting all tone!”

“I was joking!”

“Of course you don’t need to work out! You’re already hawt!”

Even when I attempt to steer the conversation away from appearance, weight loss, or attractiveness, my conversation partners never fail to correct my course change, right back to the beauty standard.

Evidently, I need constant assurance that I am indeed attractive, duh. I’m just working out to get even more so. Pssh, don’t listen to what I’m actually saying or anything. I don’t really want to get all muscled up. I’m not really trying to get to the point where I can do pull-ups, or bench my body weight, or run long distances quickly or climb mountains or anything. You, autonomous person who is not me, clearly know my motivations and goals better than I do.

I’m just a silly woman, after all. A silly woman who is obsessed with her looks, so clearly you can’t trust anything I say. Including when I say that adhering to the beauty standard is not my purpose for exercising.