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Women’s magazines are out to get us all.

I don’t mean this in the usual sense – airbrushed photographs of tiny women in sexy poses, an unrealistic standard of beauty, a disposable income larger than my actual income to spend on clothes, shoes and makeup, handbags that hold small creatures and advertising that not only targets our insecurities about aging/wrinkles/soft, sun-kissed skin/perfume, but makes us believe that this kind of targeting is normal. I don’t like these things at all. I don’t like that celebrities can’t have a bit of cellulite (we all have cellulite!) or go out to lunch without being pasted across the pages to, astonishingly (given the other messages these magazines send us!), make us feel better about our flaws. I don’t like the focus on women doing things for men; that Cosmo recycles lists of “101 Sex Positions to Turn Him On” or “Ways to Decorate Your Apartment with Him in Mind.” No no, I’m talking about the much smaller but almost equally annoying issue regarding how women’s magazines talk about exercise.

I don’t like exercise. I firmly believe that there is some kind of Emperor’s New Clothes kind of situation where no one actually likes exercise, but everyone is too afraid to point it out. Don’t get me wrong, I see the necessity of exercise, I walk everywhere, I go to the gym 3+ times per week and I go swimming (less regularly than I should); but anyone who actually enjoys it seems crazy to me. It’s sweaty and uncomfortable, your boobs jiggle around (sometimes painfully, when you are “blessed” with plentiful assets like mine!), there are lots of other sweaty people and my asthmatic lungs rail against the process vehemently. I go to the gym because I know that I have to. I turned 22 and realised that my life had come down to a choice between eating delicious food (BUTTER AND CREAM. As a chronic foodie, this is very important to me) and getting really fat, or going to the gym. I chose the latter – giving up delicious food was never a reasonable goal. Exercise doesn’t make me feel good, the fact that I have exercised makes me feel good. It’s a self-righteous sort of “I did the right thing” good feeling that has everything to do with the knowledge that I’m doing the right thing and nothing to do with the action of actually doing it.

My problem with women’s magazines and exercise isn’t that they peddle the “exercise is wonderful and makes you feel good” nonsense, it isn’t even that they seem to believe that we all have limitless time for working out and money for gym memberships; it’s that they have communicated a whole new problem to us ladies: exercise on your period, it’ll make you feel better! For once, they actually have some reasonable medical advice on their side – apparently exercising on your period can alleviate some of the more unpleasant feelings associated with the situation, like cramps. Much like the advice to “eat healthy” and “drink plenty of water” while menstruating, flying in the face of all of our instincts to hunker down with chocolate and tea, the health-gurus tell us to get out there and run/swim/do yoga/dance. Apparently the only concern we have to overcome is the fear of *gasp* anyone realizing that, LIKE ALL OTHER WOMEN OF REPRODUCTIVE AGE, we menstruate.

I call bullshit. I don’t get grumpy or moody or any other stereotypical “girl-moodiness” that they reference in pop culture. I am just as pleasant a human being as usual (reasonably pleasant, I promise!). It’s just that the last thing I feel like doing when I’m on my period is running/jumping/sweating. My back hurts already, I don’t need to run around making it worse. I feel tired and heavy and uncomfortable and sore and the only thing that sounds appealing is a bad movie (or bad daytime T.V), a heat pack and my couch.

Preferably with both a mug of steaming tea and a small mountain of chocolate.

And no women’s magazines.

– Liv

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