You know what makes me mad?
I know, I know - what doesn't?
The fact that when I went to replace my weight lifting gloves the only women's gloves they had were light duty. Little flimsy things cut away at the back of the hand and palm to I don't know - look sexy? But also to not stay on the hand when you're using them and to wear out in five seconds because I think they're meant for reps with little hand weights painted pink or silver and topping out at 5 pounds.
So I bought men's gloves and I hate them. Because my hands are biggish, but still female. So they were snug when I tried them on, but now I've worn them and the fingers are a little too big, the palm slides around when I grip because they are cut for a different hand shape. Makes my palms hurt. You can get decent gloves for women - my last ones were good. I had to - and I know this will astonish you - order them online. But they fit. Now they have holes in them. And my sneakers are flapping at the sole.
Those are easier to replace. Because we like to pretend we revere strong, physical women and women's sports have gained ground, you can get a decent athletic shoe cut for a woman's foot - because yes, that's different too.
I followed a link recently to the Nike "I feel pretty" ads. They are terrific ads.....if you are a guy or an ad director. Whoever thought them up, approved them, made them has to be feeling pretty good right about the clever, attractive, amusing, catchiness of showing a women feeling pretty when she puts that serve right in your eye. Or when she runs further, bikes longer...cause really, who wouldn't? Because I....wait.
At the gym I feel like I belong in my body the way I often don't in the rest of my life. I feel strong. I feel healthy. And that's why exercise and sports are a great thing for human beings of all genders and why women's sports are important. But pretty? My hair is pulled back tight, I'm sweaty, I contort my face, my body. I squat and curl, I make myself physical, I make myself more than just a pretty thing and I feel great. Sore and bitchy sometimes too, but great.
(The magnificently irritated Twisty was recently struck by the insanity of Nike's "sports corset" - yes, you read that right - and had some pointed things to say about the notion of the "empowerful" woman. I had begun this post when I saw hers and abandoned it in despair, outclassed. But the irritation persisted, a nagging zit of marginalization brought to a head last night when a man I met recently told me that he wasn't "into a woman trying to show me "who is the boss of the house"..... Maybe that means she gets better results not showing off her strength but weakness? The man has steering control but the woman keeps the ship on her palm."
Ghod on Popsicle stick, the shit one has to put up with in order to get laid.)
The thing those ads have in common besides their message and some clever copy writing is that the athletes are all thin, muscular women, at or below their socially ideal weight. Wouldn't I love to see that runner with a bit of an ass, a bust, some curves that were strong and muscular and imperfect too. Or any of these women looking the way people I know do when they exercise - bulging, straining, teeth-grittingly physical. Also goofy, extended, awkward, drenched, reaching, sprawling, moving, using themselves.
Because the empowering (sorry) thing about exercise is feeling at home in your own body, and yes, improving it inside and out. Not just outwardly, for the gaze of someone else somewhere who, heaven forbid!, should be offended by flesh actually moving....or by a women so absorbed by her own commitment to an activity that she forgets to be attractive for a minute there, but inwardly, for better health, calmer mind, an active life.
I guess I wouldn't mind so much the idealized bodies - it is advertising, after all - if when I clicked on through to the Nike site (I admit it, I was dazzled for a minute).....I could find something to buy other than sneakers.
Seriously. Two pair of gloves that look too light duty for real free weights. Not one sports bra that I can find on the site will accommodate my needs. Not one. As far as I can tell from the website, they don't make a single item of women's sports apparel for a bust size larger than 41-3". I could be wrong - it is one of the worst sites I've seen for finding information as opposed to pretty pictures (it's been updated since I wrote this, and it slightly better. So I take back some of it: there was one top I found that might fit.)
And while they have specific categories for golf, and fitness dance, and running and yoga and sports culture - which means posing, I think - they don't have a category of weightlifting equipment for women. Not pretty enough, I expect. If we are celebrating the beauty and power and real sexiness of women, shouldn't that message include ways for everyone to get dressed for the gym? (edited to add - And sexiness has WHAT to do with my ability to hit a golf ball, or swing a racquet, or run, or lift or bend? I concede the point for sports culture though. Posing is all about the external eye.)
They are far from the only company I've seen that clearly thinks their brand will be debased if it is widely available to the less aerodynamically sleek. But I'm suffering a particular revulsion of feeling because they make such a point of their promotion of women and fitness, of the beauty in strength, of the fierceness in women as competitors. It's a lie - clearly you should only Just Do It if you can be aesthetically pleasing while you're Doing It. And if you have a little extra flesh on top of those muscles you've worked so hard for, you can rot. Out of sight, please.
Unless you're a guy. I notice the guys size chart goes up to a 3X. That's nice. I see that under their FAQ's - that would be FREQUENTLY asked questions - they say "at this time Nike does not produce plus sizes for women. However, this is an area that is being researched by our apparel department." I bet.
Needless to say, my new sneakers are not Nikes.
They are pink though.
I don't know what came over me. A feeling of being empowerful, probably. Got to watch that.