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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Can a woman do exercise without everyone assuming it is because she wants to lose weight?

26 replies

Anypointinseeingdoc · 19/07/2012 15:19

I am possibly being too sensitive here because I DO need to lose weight but I am getting a bit hacked off with other women seeing me do some kind of exercise or sport and asking me how the weight loss is going or saying "I know you are trying to lose weight". DH goes running and plays sport and nobody ever asks him this, even though he has about the same amount to lose as me. Why can I not just exercise because I enjoy it and play sport for the sake of playing sport? This is not just a recent thing. I have always tried to be quite active so it is not like I am on a sudden health kick.

And another thing, I can't bloody eat anything without being told I will "undo all my hard work". It's not hard work, it's something I like doing.

My friend who is rake thin does a lot of sport too and is constantly being told she doesn't need to because she is thin. Can women just do something because they enjoy it, and not because they are on a never ending journey towards physical "perfection"?

OP posts:
namechangeguy · 19/07/2012 16:26

The comments are from people who do not understand the links between activity, food and good health. Rejoice in the pleasure you get from your activities, and pity their ignorance. It isn't worth getting wound up over.

Ormiriathomimus · 19/07/2012 16:29

I totally agree. It's belittling IMO. As if women only do something in order to look good.

When I started running properly a few years back it coincided with my having lost a lot of weight through dieting (and subsequently a nasty bout of anxiety/depression). People who ask me why I was running as 'I didn't need to'. Completely misses the point!

Melpomene · 20/07/2012 08:48

Seconded. Another thing that annoys me is when people promoting exercise feel the need to reassure women that "This class/DVD will just tone you up; it won't give you big muscles." Based on the assumption that no woman could possibly want to have big/visible muscles.

OTheHugeManatee · 20/07/2012 08:51

Lots of people don't get the idea that someone might exercise just because they line it. That's especially the case if you're female. They're just projecting their own idleness and ignorance onto you.

Thistledew · 20/07/2012 09:03

What sort of exercise/sport do you do? I used to do martial arts and am now into cycling, and haven't heard those sorts of comments. Maybe because they involve learning new specialist skills and a degree of competitiveness they tend to be seen as obviously for something other than weight loss.

Anypointinseeingdoc · 20/07/2012 09:14

I do swimming, cycling, badminton and tennis. The only thing I don't get comments on is the tennis, and I think it is because I play with another woman and it is seen as a nice girly day out with a girly friend Hmm and not an actual sport.

The cycling and badminton I do with men and both seem to bewilder people. Maybe because I am getting all hot and sweaty in front of the men I am supposed to be losing weight in order to attract?

I am thinking of trying running because I am not actually that fit but I'm sure I will get more weight loss comments.

Like I said, I do need to lose weight so that probably doesn't help. But how many portly men do you see playing football and do they all get asked how their diet is going?

OP posts:
DoingItForMyself · 20/07/2012 09:56

I totally agree Anypoint, I run because I enjoy it, but if I turn up to school in my running gear people feel the need to point out how much weight I've lost (no, its just that I'm wearing tight black clothes instead of flowing baggy comfy clothes!)

I run because I enjoy the fresh air, the sense of doing something for myself (hence my username!) and the feeling of satisfaction I get from pushing myself further than I thought I could. I also run so that I can continue to eat pile of cake and crap without putting on loads of weight, but not specifically to try and lose any.

My stbxh bought me magazine subscription for Women's Running and every other article is about losing weight, toning up, having great legs, choosing this season's flattering running fashion! I haven't even bothered to read last month's yet as I find it so frustrating and end up wondering "do they put all this crap in Men's Running too?"

SardineQueen · 20/07/2012 10:23

Q Can a woman do exercise without everyone assuming it is because she wants to lose weight?

A Probably not. Unfortunately.

It's appalling isn't it.

Maybe dancing?

samandi · 20/07/2012 13:52

I've lost count of the number of times people have told me I don't need to do exercise. It's baffling. Most times those people don't do any form of exercise so I assume they do see it as hard work and not an enjoyable activity.

Lottapianos · 20/07/2012 13:57

Very good point OP

I have lost some weight recently and loads of people have commented on it. When they ask me how I did it, I tell them that I've been doing a DVD to work my core muscles, because I'm trying to manage my bad back, the weightloss has been just an unplanned side-effect! Not one single person has asked me how my back has been feeling, they're just all hung up on the weight loss!

It does seem that woman + exercise = trying to lose weight in most people's minds Hmm

CrunchyFrog · 22/07/2012 19:23

I just bought an exercise thingy for the house, the delivery guy looked me up and down and told me I didn't "need" it.

I do, I'm not very fit. Slim is not the same as fit!

Having said that, I absolutely would not be exercising if I didn't feel like I had to, exercise for exercise's sake eludes me!

TheLightPassenger · 22/07/2012 20:32

Agree. It's irritating that women aren't encouraged to exercise to have a stronger healthier body but just to fit into that little black dress.

/hijack - Lotta - I've also been advised to do more exercise for back pain. Has it worked for your back pain? Do you have any DVD recommendations?

Thistledew · 23/07/2012 02:13

There is a connected issue (which I can't at the moment see whether or not stems from the same problem) is that we have as a society managed to detach the idea of physical and mental health from exercise, nutrition and training the mind. When we get ill our reaction is to go to the Dr for a pill to treat the symptoms, rather than looking at whether there are changes we can make to our life styles to stop the thing that is making us ill.

Of course there are many illnesses, diseases and chronic conditions for which a life style change does not make any significant difference, but there are many more for which changes to exercise and the adoption of a healthy diet can help alleviate, or prevent occurring in the first place.

I think this issue crosses both genders- the idea of men taking an active interest in and care for their health is not seen as 'masculine', but I think there is a greater expectation that men do sport because they find it fun, a stereotype that is not applied to women.

fireice · 23/07/2012 02:23

I have never come across this and do a variety of different fitness activities. People seem to see it as something that you do as a way of staying healthy rather than as a way of losing weight.

Lottapianos · 23/07/2012 09:31

TheLightPassenger, walking more definitely helps. I try to walk for an hour 2-3 times a week and that does make a difference. Also not sitting for long periods without getting up and moving about - I am really bad at following my own advice though! I find that stress is just the worst thing ever for my back so increasing exercise helps with that. A bit Smile

The DVD is called 'Blast Off Belly Fat' and I bought it on Amazon for about a fiver after seeing a recommendation on MN. It's flipping fantastic - pretty hard work and I still can't do all of the exercises but I noticed a difference to my gut after about a week. Overall, my back has been a bit better than usual in the last few months - whether that's down to walking or DVD or something else I can't say for sure.

Trills · 23/07/2012 09:35

Q Can a woman do exercise without everyone assuming it is because she wants to lose weight?

A Depends on who you mean by "everyone".

This is a reflection on the people you spend time with more than anything else.

maybenow · 23/07/2012 09:35

i dont do 'exercise' i do 'sport'. like a man Grin

actually most people don't assume i'm doing it for weightloss, maybe because i've always done a lot of sport and have never been any heavier or got any lighter (i've got a chunky sporty build). i talk about the fun i have trail running and mountain biking and i enter races/events so i guess most people know i'm doing it to train for events and for fun... but i do watch my language and i would always talk about sport or training rather than 'exercise'.

GrassIsntGreener · 23/07/2012 09:37

Oh yes! I love to run, it clears my head, gives me 'me' time, makes me feel amazing and I get a big satisfaction from seeing improvements and reaching my time or distance goals.

I did start it to help not just lose weight but be fitter and healthier too. It's more of a hobby really.

Well I'm quite pregnant now so I'm on a break but will be getting back to it.

Trills · 23/07/2012 09:41

Some people like to run.

Others don't.

That's fine.

It's not fine when people who don't like it assume that everyone dislikes it, and so the only reason someone would do it is to achieve something (like weight loss).

LemonTurd · 23/07/2012 14:01

I'm just starting to exercise, walking everywhere and swimming, as I've got depression. I'm doing it to aid my mental health, if I lose weight it will just be a side effect.

I'm deliberately not discussing it so I don't get drawn into slimming/dieting talk.

I saw this on pinterest the other day, made me smile Grin


choceyes · 23/07/2012 14:20

oh yes I agree with you OP.

I do zumba twice a week. I started in January to lose my pregnancy flab. I've lost all that weight now but I still continue going to Zumba as I really enjoy it, I look forward to going. But my mum says that now I have lost the weight that I should stop going Hmm

Krumbum · 23/07/2012 17:42

I do think people go to gyms for weight loss/vanity reasons. Both men and women. Gyms are All marketed as places to go get the 'body beautiful', and they rip a lot of money from you for the pleasure of doing mind numbing exercise.
But sport, getting out an about, activity, that can be done for many reasons, not weight loss. And your right I think because it is so ingrained into most people that Women want to be skinny and 'hot' they can't imagine why she should would do these things for any other reasons. The dominant ideology being that women do and should always be working on their appearance. Very sad and puts some women off going out and having fun.


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PlumpDogPillionaire · 23/07/2012 21:36

This is like the thread from the poster who's neighbour needles her because he can't handle that she's materially successful (well it is sort of, anyway... Grin )
Of course there'll always be people who make boneheaded assumptions about why you're doing the things you are and what you should be doing. So what? If they choose to express the limits of their social skills and imagination in those ways, then that's their loss, surely?

OatyBeatie · 24/07/2012 17:23

I feel a bit ashamed of myself because a largish part of my motivation for going to the gym is to lose weight and look better, even though I am not actually overweight. But I do find that the more exercise I do, the more I realise what the other, more important, benefits are. I feel so much stronger, I get such a kick out of the feeling of well-being, and the knowledge that I can make bigger and bigger efforts. My body moves about more effectively and freely, and it talks to me. It tells me all the other things about itself that get lost when we focus on its appearance (and on making it smaller). It tells me what it needs, and what it can and can't do, and it tells me about all sorts of fiddly little muscles I never knew I had. In that sense exercise is quite consciousness-raising, because it drags us away from appearance to reality.

PlumpDogPillionaire · 24/07/2012 18:29

Oaty exercise and getting fit and being able to really enjoy living in a healthy, happy body that's getting stronger and suppler are indeed one of life's great joys. If a tiny, wee small part of you also prefers the way you look when you're at your healthiest, this isn't such a terrible thing.
Also, if the way you're looking is reflecting that you're healthier and happier then that's appearance reflecting reality and it's all good. Why on earth should you feel guilty about that?

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