Getting Fit as a Feminist

Getting Fit as a Feminist

A lot of basic feminism talks about how you shouldn’t be concerned with what other people think of your looks; you should love yourself and your body as it is, whatever size. That’s really great because of course everyone should love themselves as much as they can. And I certainly do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel lazy because I don’t work out as often as I think I should (i.e., at all) or that I don’t feel like crap after I eat crap. Obviously I love delicious food. But a lot of food is also obviously bad for me, and a lot of it happens to be the really delicious stuff.

It’s a struggle to decide between eating well and building my body into something that will last a long time or making a shallow attempt at the feminist approach by just doing whatever I want and eating whatever I want. But here’s the thing: Just because I decide that I want to eat well and work out doesn’t make me less of a feminist. What does is trying to dictate to other people that they should be eating a certain way or working out for some reason or another–and I don’t do that. At least, I try my best not to because it’s not my place to make that decision for someone, just like it’s not their place to make it for me. It’s also not their place to assume that I want to get fit because I want to “look hot” in the mainstream sense, because most days (most days, because I am human and I am not perfectly immune to being self-conscious) it’s so not about that. It’s about the fact that I bitch and moan just walking from the car into the house, or I don’t have the money to buy new clothes after I grow out of old ones, or I just feel physically uncomfortable after a certain meal because I don’t know when to stop.

There’s also a lot of problematic stuff within the fitness community because most so-called “fitspiration” is based around that mainstream look that people want to achieve through food and exercise. They want to be skinny and fit into size two jeans. They want to have a six pack or reach a certain number on the scale, and I think that just shouldn’t be the goal–not on a feminist fitness journey anyway.

This post is not only to make other people aware of this concept (because believe it or not, there are some people outside my feminist circle who may not realize it), but also simply to remind myself. Once in a while someone will make an off-hand comment about how useless it is to go running or how it’s more fun to gorge yourself on pizza, the apparent chosen life source of tumblr, and it’ll bring me down, make me wonder if I’m doing the right thing when I say I want to workout and maybe eat a salad. But I’m also not going to pick on someone because they opt not to make the same choices as I do. Fitness should be about loving yourself because you can run faster, do more reps, lift more weight and only because those are the goals you want. If they aren’t the goals for you, then cool. Find the key to loving yourself more that does resonate with you. If it’s that extra piece of pizza, then I say go for it. Who am I to stop you?

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7 thoughts on “Getting Fit as a Feminist

  1. What a great post! I don’t know much about the feminist side of things but its your body and if its telling you to work out or eat a pizza you should listen 🙂 I’m currently trying to work out more and eat better to loose my baby weight and just be healthy. No dreams of size 2 jeans here. 🙂

  2. such a great post!
    i feel the same way. i want to bet into better shape. not cause i want to lose weight, but cause i want to make my body work better. i just started university few weeks ago, and most of the buildings are on this high hill and there are a lot of stairs. for the first few days climbing those stairs was really hard. i honestly felt like fainting when i got to the top. probably cause for the past two years i’ve mostly just drive everywhere. now i don’t have a car anymore and now that i’ve started walking more and have climbed those stupid stairs like a lot, it’s already easier. i might never want to go to gym or play certain sports, but i really want to be more active and healthier. i don’t even own a scale, so it’s really not about looking certain way, just feeling better.
    shouldn’t it be empowering and definitely feminist that women start to be good to themselves cause they love themselves, not cause they feel like they need to be a certain size. but i guess for some people it’s hard to see what’s the difference between giving into the ‘beauty standards’ or taking care of yourself.

    xx
    Stu

  3. This is where I start to get fed up with feminism and kind of plug my ears a bit. Not with feminism itself, or its message in the context of fitness, but in that people will make arguments for the silliest of things saying “It’s not feminist!”. I want to look good and feel good, not to fit the model of magazine ads or images out there, but just because I want to. Who doesn’t want to feel good? Who doesn’t like to see a bit of muscle on their arms, or notice that it’s easier to lift things and run? Who doesn’t want to not have to unbutton their pants because they ate cheese sticks when they knew they shouldn’t have AGAIN? Who doesn’t want to put on a twirly dress and feel like a million dollars when they walk out the door? Not for anyone else, but for me.

    So basically, my boiled down version of feminism is “I do what I want”, because I’m a flipping human being who likes what I like so help me.

    I’m done semi-ranting now xD

    • I think this is part of why I haven’t bothered going on tumblr recently. The feminist community on there has turned into something that almost makes me feel guilty just for breathing. I know it’s not everyone feeling the same way, but it seems more often than not everyone is policing everyone else’s minor moves. I’m definitely of the belief that as long as what you’re doing isn’t hurting someone, then have fun.

  4. I’m a feminist who says thinks that it’s your body and your choice! If you want to work out and go on a diet and do a cleanse or whatever, do it! Just know that it is possible to be happy at any size. Over a 3 month period this year, I actually gained 50 pounds thanks to a switch in my medication. I’m not unhappy with my size, but I’m unhappy that I need to buy a whole new wardrobe! I’ll probably be hopping on the “feminist fitness” bus soon by busting out my Zumba DVDs and kickboxing DVDs and starting up a routine again because I actually like doing those exercises!
    tl;dr Do what makes you happy. You deserve to be happy!

  5. i love this post so much! i started running again and eating better and i’ve had a hard time talking about it on my blog. i feel like if i so much as mention that i like to run then people assume i am shaming them for not running (or working out or whatever). but in reality, i just feel my best mentally when i’ve, oh i dk, MOVED OFF THE COUCH. i also want to eat all the donuts and pizza but obviously being literally immobilized after that (bc i, too, don’t know when to stop) is not a good thing. now i eat a salad and one slice of pizza instead of the entire pizza— not because i want to take up less space to please society but because my body feels better when it can move without fear of ralphing. great post, sonya! love that you are blogging again.

    • I ate salad so regularly a few weeks ago I actually started to really enjoy it, and I’ve had more than one day since when I actually crave it (like right now, but we don’t have ingredients for one). Also, I love that you said “ralphing.”

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