So I went to spin class the other night.
And I fell, and hit my head, and woke up and thought I was the most beautiful person in the world.
(But for reals, that movie was hilarious, no?)
I did have a related experience, though – in that it reminded me of the continued distortion being perpetuated in regard to body image, particularly women’s.
Walking into the gym, I wondered if it was going to happen. It had happened before. We were warming up, and the instructor called, “Okay! Is this anyone’s first workout today?”
I looked around. Was it…not anyone’s first workout today? Had we been cast in a Marvel movie and someone failed to tell me?
Later, halfway through the class, she called out, “Okay! Remember your motivations! Whatever brought you here…doesn’t matter how vain it is; how shallow it is; it’s your motivation!”
Huh? Surely we should be focusing on motivations that go beyond how many calories we’re burning?
At the end of the class, she took another poll. “Who’s going to Anthony’s class next?”
A few people raised their hands. Not me.
Then, as we were stretching:
“Has anyone tried the keto diet?”
(In case it’s not obvious yet, this is a small class and therefore a bit more chatty than your average SoulCycle. It’s like a very breathless book club.)
The final straw was when she asked me again, conversationally, as I grabbed a wipe to clean off my bike: “So, are you doing Anthony’s class?”
NO! I wanted to shout. I HAVE TO GO HOME AND CRITICIZE LUCY LIU’S WARDROBE ON ELEMENTARY I MEAN SOMEONE HAS TO!
(But for real, this is how I imagine the conversation going between the producer and costume designer on that show.
PRODUCER: “All I’m saying is, maybe you could add a couple of other people to your Pinterest board besides Joseph Gordon Levitt.”
COSTUME DESIGNER: “I REFUSE TO BE STIFLED!!”
*goes and rage-buys twenty more skinny ties*)
Photos of Lucy Liu courtesy of Elementary; photos of JGL courtesy of The Fashionisto (top) and Pinterest (bottom).
“Actually,” I said evenly – quite fed up at this point – “I used to have an eating disorder, so I really try not to overdo it when it comes to exercise.”
I was hesitant to say anything – and honestly, feel a bit weird recapping it here. Stigmas against mental health are fading away so slowly a time-lapse video of erosion on the Cambrian coast would be more action-packed, and I feel like when people talk about it, it’s sometimes viewed as like…attention-grabby? But look, if I was out for a bit of attention-whoring, I would make up something way more exciting like a normal person (or James Frey).
Things I Would Say If I Was Looking for Attention:
“I once hooked up with Trevor Noah.” (That’s more like a wish that I’m hoping comes true someday.)
“I ran into Steven Moffat at a pub in Camden and it was me who told him he should do a modern-day re-telling of Sherlock Holmes. He was like, ‘But Robert Downey Jr. already did it!’ and I was like, ‘NO, TRUST ME. Also, cast that guy from The Other Boleyn Girl. No, not Eric Bana. The other Boleyn guy.’”
“While I was in Dubrovnik, I totally photobombed while they were shooting a scene for Game of Thrones. Security on that set was way more lax than you’d think.”
Apparently my fake accomplishments are all TV-related. Whatever. Anyway, my point is, at the risk of sounding like someone looking for a memoir deal (it wouldn't be that interesting; I'm very bad with anecdotes as a concept), I feel like we need to keep bringing these insidious mind-fucks to people’s attention, so they can no longer do their evil subliminal work. It’s like when your parents encouraged you to tell them about your bad dreams, so they lost their power. Let’s get these open secrets actually into the open – the idea that we need to find another way to avoid carbs, or do more than an hour of exercise in a day – because it’s not normal. Not healthy.
And my spin instructor? She confessed that she, too, had a disordered relationship with food. In fact, she was so forthcoming and self-aware about the status of her mental health that it made me wonder, How can you not realize that your “small talk” is potentially damaging? I didn’t have the courage in that moment to outright say, “Please stop asking questions like that in your class.” But I’m hoping our conversation still made a difference. I haven’t been back yet, so we’ll see. All I’m saying is, if she’s looking for new poll questions, I can totally help.
I would really like to know if I’m the only one who thinks Joan Watson needs some new outfits.
Looking for some positive body image inspiration? Check out my lovely friend and badass #bopo #mofo Katie Yeilding, or this great interview. (Also watch Elementary. It really is very good. In spite of all the ties.)