?

Log in

No account? Create an account

In which I defend my right to want to wear a bikini even though I actually don't, or something - Tactical Ninja

May. 21st, 2013

10:51 am - In which I defend my right to want to wear a bikini even though I actually don't, or something

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

I woke up this morning with Teenage Dream by Katy Perry in my head. Please shoot me now.

Meanwhile, it's Daedalus vs Aristotal in the Thunderditch. Daedalus being Dr Wheel's desktop machine, and Aristotal being mine. Seems that ever since he installed the Oculus Rift, if Daedalus is on, Aristotal can't acces the internet. Thus, Daedalus is winning. I think this is inherently unfair since I backed Aristotal. Except, I totally wield the Power of the Button. I haven't actually used it yet, because I have an inherent avoidant tendency when it comes to touching other people's tech (I blame grist when we were kids and he was bigger than me). However, I am hoping that Aristotal will rise up and overcome his oppressors, because I have no fucking clue why having someone else's machine switched on would kill my internet connection. It's.. typical of computers actually. There'll be some weird network configuration thing that I don't understand, and I've no doubt that uttering the right words over it will fix it, but I don't know what those words are. Stupid computers.


Yesterday I ended up reading this blog post: Goals.

It's about the blogger's experience of one of those 'catch up' sessions that some gyms run with their members, and how it made her feel as though weight loss was the only recognised goal. Common complaint, right? If you're a woman, being thin and going to extreme lengths to be thin is the ideal that's presented to you pretty much from birth. And then there's the negative side of that for those who are not thin. So yes, this whole concept of weight/size loss as a reason for exercise is problematic in the extreme, and gyms seem to be one of those hub/crux/catalyst (whatever!) points where you get that weird convergence of the problematic issue with those influenced by the problematic issue, who do genuinely want to lose weight/size.

It's pretty clear from that post and the notes mentioned at the bottom of it, that a significant number of women (and likely men too, but her gym is a women's one so, you know) are there to lose weight or size. We can talk a lot about how these people are being influenced negatively by societal expectations, we can talk about the Healthy At Any Size movement, we can talk about how terrible it is that people are willing to subject themselves to unhealhty practices in order to achieve a socially constructed ideal. We can consider ourselves superior because we are not so suggestible and easily influenced as to have weight loss as a goal, and we can use that feeling of superiority to subsume the less valid goals of others under our own on the gym's post-it board... oh wait.

What the fucking fuck? Yes, we all know that wanting to lose weight is apparently not a good reason for going to the gym any more - you're supposed to want to be healthy, fit, strong - anything but lose a few kilos! If you want to lose weight, you're succumbing to societal expectation and thus you're weak! Or, invalid! Or something.

I have a problem with this attitude. You know that whole "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" thing that women are subjected to in .. well, pretty much everything? This is just another example. And when I see a woman invalidating another woman's goal because it's weight loss, I get angry.

A few months ago, I decided I wanted to lose 5 kilos. I felt fucking guilty about admitting this, because I am one of the lucky ones. I'm naturally athletically built and have good enough health that I'm able to pursue an active lifestyle that keeps me fit. Therefore, someone who's built like me admitting they want to lose weight is a social faux pas. Look at all those bigger people who are supposed to be Healthy At Any Size, what am I doing to them by saying I feel like I'm a bit over my ideal size and want to get back to where I'm happy? Shame on me!

Wait, what? It's my fucking body and I'll do what I want with it, thanks very much. Yeah, I'm thin. Yeah, I'm fit. And yeah, I know when I'm 5 kilos over what I want to weigh and I know how I feel about that, and what I want to do about it. And nobody gets to invalidate that choice just because there's an acknowledged societal influence in my aesthetic for my own body, or because other people have a different aesthetic or different goals. Fuck that noise.

So, um, when someone wants to lose weight, can we stop with the bullshit about how you're supposed to want to be healthy and fit instead of smaller? If you want to be smaller* and you've examined your reasons for it and acknowledged them, go nuts with your goal setting! Best of British to you! Have fun, that's awesome! You'll probably get healthy and fit as a side effect anyway, and I'm not going to stomp on your goals because they are prioritised differently from what the social justice warriors currently think they should be. Because that just makes people feel bad, and women spend enough time being told they should feel bad, mmk?

Meanwhile, those questions asked by the 'trainer'? It seems to me that there are two factors at play there - one being someone with unclear goals, who isn't sure how, or even whether or not they want to track progress towards them. The other being a 'trainer' whose engagement with (or understanding of) the process of goal achievement is lacking. When I do a goal session with a trainer, it doesn't go like that - we go into each of my stated goals and talk about the specifics of progress (or lack of it). We talk about what I'm currently doing, and how my goals might have shifted based on that. We talk about what sort of things might support achievement of the goals, and how the gym can facilitate that. The fact that the 'trainer' did not pick up on the asthma thing and explore it further with the client suggests that this check-in is purely a compliance-type formality. But the client didn't take it up either, and it seems to me that neither participant was actually interested in using the interview as a tool for, you know, actually achieving anything.

So yeah - I think the gym is not holding its end up with the goals check-in. Absolutely I think that. But I also think it's likely that the questions on that sheet are based on analysis of the goals of their membership as a whole, rather than some assumption that all women want to lose weight. And I think it's unfair of the blogger to assume that all the responsibility for engaging with the process is on the side of the gym. I also think it's unfair to use that as a platform for a rant about how acknowledging weight loss as a goal is harmful and we should all be righteously angry about it. And I think it's just.. icky.. to post pictures demonstrating her sense of entitlement to invalidate other people's weight loss goals.

Seriously, that is not helping. Imagine if you were the person who wanted to *do something* at the beach in a bikini, and someone posted a goal that covered yours up, implying that your goal is wrong and the correct response is actually to love yourself the way you are.

You know it's possible to love yourself the way you are and have a goal to change something, right?

* Yes I'm deliberately avoiding mentioning eating disorders and their relationship to the societal aesthetic for women here. I'm assuming we all know about that and am trying to talk within the non-disordered range of goals here, without having to disclaim everything I say, ok?


Huh. Clearly I felt strongly about that.

PS, Personally I think that bikinis are problematic, not for the reasons you might think, but because every time I've worn one I've ended up losing one or other part of it in an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. They are not very well-designed, functionally. But I'm not about to denigrate others' desire to wear them, y'hear?

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:anna_en_route
Date:May 21st, 2013 01:51 am (UTC)
(Link)
On the one hand I do think deliberately covering up other people's is a crappy thing to do...on the other it's possible to note something as a seriously disturbing trend without attacking people individually.

That was one of the things that profoundly creeped me out after I did the camino...a good 50% of people jumped straight to the weight I'd lost...I'd just walked 1000 k through mud and angry dogs and vicious clothes throwing nuns and the entire thing got summed up "you've lost weight"...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:May 21st, 2013 01:54 am (UTC)
(Link)
but.. but.. but.. VICIOUS CLOTHES THROWING NUNS!

Nothing tops that.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:anna_en_route
Date:May 21st, 2013 03:11 am (UTC)
(Link)
Exactly!

Although I did not actually enounter the nun in question...just stories of her after the town she inhabited...

It gave me a new sympathy for the Irish though...it turns out nun-fear is a real thing and actually kind of traumatic.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:helianthas
Date:May 21st, 2013 12:56 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yay Camino!!!!! I was having a full-on PMS-induced panic attack and a nun was all "Uh, you can't stay here, get out!" Only in Spanish. And wouldn't give me a hug. Which is kind of all I needed. But at least I got to keep my clothes. </p>

You see any wild boar?? Now *those* are scary!

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:anna_en_route
Date:May 21st, 2013 08:14 pm (UTC)
(Link)
This nun apparently took people sleeping in very personally and was prone to hurling their belongings out into the street.

No wild boars, but mum e-mailed me about a bear being killed on the road to O Cerebreiro a couple of days after I'd passed through...thanks mum...

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:May 21st, 2013 05:16 am (UTC)
(Link)
My gym has never contacted me to go over my goals. The do want to send me a present though, because I've been going there for so long.

I kind of figure that if you're goal-oriented and working towards something, you'll take active control of that by engaging a personal trainer, or keeping your own records. Maybe some folks benefit from a once-a-year catchup with gym staff, but I'm struggling to see how that'd work tbh.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:May 21st, 2013 05:13 am (UTC)
(Link)
I don't think it's just Western society with the gender binary, gender norms and unattainable ideals. Hello, Japan! Well hi there, China, and what are you doing over there Mauritania with that shovel full of couscous? There's a spectrum there too - some societies recognise more than two genders, and some have more strict requirements for 'doing' gender than Western societies.

Frankly, I think people care about aesthetics, and while there's probably a spectrum there too - something like outer beauty <--------> inner beauty - we are all influenced by what other people around us find beautiful to some extent, because we're social. Memes are a thing, you know?

And while we are all supposed to be individuals, and some of us get off on claiming to be completely uninfluenced by societal expectation (and therefore special snowflakes who are probably superiorly strong-minded or something), all I think those people are doing is exactly what they are railing against, which is supporting yet another unattainable standard to make others feel bad and thus promote themselves. Because people as a species are nasty and competitive like that.

I don't know why anyone cares about gender (except in that I like Teh Cock so I care about the gender of who I'm about to shag). But I'm going to guess that it's because society has a mighty powerful influence over the opportunities of the individual, so we get stuck in this loop where we care because society says we have to, and society makes us care because we obviously care.

Holding the truth of a gender spectrum to be self-evident is all very well, but how does one go about breaking that loop, if not through having the power to tell people to go fuck themselves? And being ok with spending a lot of time alone.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:c_maxx
Date:May 22nd, 2013 04:40 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hear you. I believe in the spectrum theory.

Some people are way over at one end, and some at the other. And many are somewhere in between, whether or not they choose to exercize it.

All God's chilluns are people, wherever they stand. In some places ones may wish to stand quietly, tho, for safety reasons...

Agreed, the right to tell "eff off" should be in the Bill of Rights.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:May 21st, 2013 08:43 am (UTC)
(Link)
Word, lady!

I had a funny interaction last week. My dance teacher (who is at least a head smaller than me and has a body I envy her for) got a few moments alone with me and we got into "women's discussions" about cellulites and weight. Now when I was as lean as she is now (at about her age too) I felt the same. I've always thought I'm a few pounds too much, and worried about cellulites. Yet I often heard others say "what - you?!? Where do you want to lose weight, on the kneecaps?" Subsequently I always found it hard to admit I was trying to because others apparently felt I was judging them the same as myself. It's a weird vicious circle.
I managed NOT to tell my dance teacher she shouldn't try to lose weight. I managed to be sympathetic about her cellulites, and told her about my own, and managed NOT to think "OMG I need to slim down to her weight" or something. I am coming to terms with my current weight. I am still perceived as slim (there is a different word in German that doesn't translate well) and I should be ok with it just as I am ok with getting gray hair and wrinkles around the eyes :-)

It's a process. I want to be healthy but I don't begrudge others their goals any more, and that's a good thing. And besides, I've never thought of bigger people as unattractive. I often think they are looking good. I can't bring myself to think that about me, though. Social conditioning is hard to overcome.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:May 21st, 2013 08:30 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Haha, bizzarely, I do have those odd fatty deposits on the insides of my knees, and I envy those without them for their elegant knees. So you could say that yes, I do want to lose weight on my kneecaps. ;-)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:May 22nd, 2013 07:32 am (UTC)
(Link)
*lol* See - even that one is individual :)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:helianthas
Date:May 21st, 2013 01:02 pm (UTC)
(Link)
When I lost a tremendous amount of weight last year, my friends were worried, strangers/ acquaintances were envious, despite the fact I looked grey and malnourished. I never quite understood that, and it took everything in my power not to respond to the question "How do you stay so thin??" with "I'm so sick that I can't eat."</p>

Also, why do people think it's OK to (unsolicited) comment on someone else's weight??? People have been doing that more and more with my skin color and it's beginning to creep me out a little... Do pale people also have others comment on their paleness?

(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:May 21st, 2013 08:29 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I have people tell me I look sick sometimes. The stupid thing is, the only time I look sick is when I'm upset emotionally. I don't seem to look sick when I am sick. Weird.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:pundigrion
Date:May 21st, 2013 08:53 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Do pale people also have others comment on their paleness?
Yep! Sure do! If I didn't wear a watch you'd never know I had a tan, but I'm still not sure why people comment on it. I mean I don't run up to people and go, "Wow look how BEIGE you are!!"

When I lost weight to illness I did tell them just that...and they were even more envious. *headdesk*
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:c_maxx
Date:May 22nd, 2013 04:30 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yes, I always get a comment or two when I put on a swimsuit.

If no one else does, I do; "whoa, get out the sunglasses, check out the glare off that tummy!"
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:labelleizzy
Date:May 24th, 2013 07:32 pm (UTC)
(Link)
huh. having just got back from the gym and reading this, is... interesting.

need to chew on this awhile.
(Reply) (Thread)