In this month’s edition of Women’s Press, an On Your Mind article talks about running as a feminist pursuit. This may seem like a stretch at first glance, in the same vein that Tampax might tell consumers that using tampons is a feminist pursuit against the tyranny of Aunt Flo, but the author does have a very important point: “nothing-especially nothing involving women and their bodies-can remain neutral for very long.”
I don’t exercise much or at all these days, chalking it up to undergraduate stress and time management, but when I did, one of my workout buddies Shivaun told me once that she has to make the time to hit the gym, and she always feels good about it because exercising was one of the few things she gets to do for herself alone, and how often does that happen?
Last summer I was on a flag football team which was one of the best experiences of my life in Minnesota. After my first day of practice, I woke up with my body sore all over and could not believe how much pain comes from waking up your body from dormancy. But from then on, the adrenaline and endorphines kicked in and I started to feel like the Hulk. And I started to eat like him too, with two helpings of dinner after every nightly practice.
One weekend I was away to be a volunteer camp counselor, and during lunch, another woman counselor looked at my tray, eyes bulged and went, “Are you going to eat all of that?” Yes, I am. And I did.
There are plenty of paradoxes tied up in women exercising, such as how your body may get slimmer from burned fat, but still put on more pounds from gained muscle, and they way you’ll need to adjust your diet accordingly to feed these processes. All of these things may happen, or nothing at all. Everyone’s body responds differently, which is why it is important to listen to our own bodies first and honor the practices that make us feel good rather than be shouted out by hegemonic ideals of feminine beauty.
Society puts enough limits on women that we do not need to perpetuate that amongst ourselves. We need to end fat talk. We can start by saying to each other:
“Your body is your body, and you can make it strong, and healthy. No one can tell you what to do with your own body, or that you’re not good enough to do what you enjoy. Your body, however imperfect it might seem by the wildly unattainable standards of our culture, is yours, and it is good.”
And then, we can get out there and just start running. Here is a song to get going: