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
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?