I came across this post on the Ladies Who Run website last Friday via Sandra McDougall’s Facebook page. I promise I wasn’t being all weird and lechery, hanging around with the running ladies, Not this time, anyway.
I agree wholeheartedly with Helen’s post. She right about thigh gaps and bikini bridges, although the latter seems to have been a hoax. Women do face huge social pressures to conform to a look or to a way of behaving. I’d have thought that we’d gone beyond that now it’s 2014 and not 1914. Or 1314 come to that.
I have little enough control over my own body. It aches like a bastard all the time. I have a hernia, bits of my legs would much rather I fucked off all this running nonsense, my lungs hate me because I abused them with tar and carcinogens for twenty-odd years and now make me suffer when I ask them and my heart to put in some effort on race day. Given all of that, how can I be expected to take part in the patriarchy’s millenia-old war on women by controlling their bodies too?
I hate that someone, anyone, is expected to conform to a way of looking or a way of behaving. In particular, I hate that someone is led to believe that they are somehow not quite good enough. It’s corrosive to self-belief. It’s usually because someone, somewhere wants to sell you something. There are potions and pills, soaps and powders made for pennies in some chemical plant, sold for pounds in pretty packages on High Streets and in shopping centres because you’re worth it.
Of course you’re fucking worth it. You don’t need that shit and you’re worth it anyway.
The thing Helen mentions in her post about strong being the new skinny is interesting and depressing in equal measure. I like running around and I enjoy the company of people who run around too. We come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Nobody is really fat, nor even all that plump but some of us are carrying a few pounds around that we’d rather weren’t there. Athletes are subject to all the same pressures as everyone else.
Jessica Ennis, of all people, was told by some bufty in a blazer that she could do with losing a few pounds during the run up to the London Olympics. Jessica Ennis. She has abs you could grate cheese with and yet some anonymous twat thought that she was too fat to compete. And if Jess is too porky, what chance do mere mortals have?
Images of athleticism have become as pervasive in the media as skinny porn partly because of Jessica’s success during London 2012. It’s one more way in which we’re made to feel that we’re less than we are. it’s worse for women, much worse. Nobody asks Mo Farah for his diet tips or how to get great abs. Well, really obsessive coaches might and I might too but I’m interested in his training regime. Nobody is all that interested in publishing photos of Mo in his budgie smugglers on a holiday beach. Dual standards. Mo has his own problems with some sections of the British press and public but they’re not about how he looks, how much he weighs or what he’s wearing when he’s not on the track.
Men are not objectified in the same way as women are. It’s not fair and I know I’m guilty of it and I’m really, really sorry.