I can feel the air on my thighs and a jiggle in my step after I slip into my gym shorts. My cellulite, which rarely sees the light of day, is hanging out for all to see. My thighs rub together and stubble stands on end without the protective sheath of my capris. I am ready to get my workout on.
And I am uncomfortable.
My mind is preoccupied with self-conscious curiosities. Is my summer tan still strong enough to distract from my natural pastiness? How much jiggle do I have going on? Are people as laser-focused on my cellulite as I suspect they are?
The most important question I should be asking myself is: why the fuck do I care?
If there is anything the patriarchy has taught us, it’s that women’s bodies are here not for their owners’ autonomous use, but for others’ consumption. This system tells women they had better look flawless and photoshopped before even thinking about exposing their sinful body parts to the world. Our rights to comfort end where onlookers’ expectations of being surrounded by human ornaments begin.
Well, I call bullshit.
There are already so few spaces out there where women can feel completely comfortable in their own skin, and damnit, the gym
should be one of them. Yet, the defensiveness and cynicism we use as tools to face the outside world tend to take root deep within our own self-image, turning our own self-talk into objectifying echoes of society’s harebrained double standards.
Here are a few reasons why we should say “to hell with that noise” and feel okay wearing shorts to the gym.
1. Working out can get fucking hot.
You can find men flitting around the gym in nothing but a pair of breezy board shorts any time of day. If we boil it down to basics, working out increases body temperature and the less clothing coverage we have, the more our sweat can evaporate and cool us down. It’s science, mmkay?
The idea that “women don’t sweat, they glow” is nonsense. Women sweat. Women like to get their pump on. Women appreciate feeling unencumbered by tons of layers when working out. Just like men. When we wear shorts instead of leggings, that is just a smaller item of sticky-sweaty clothing we have to peel off of our bodies later. Let us be comfortable, alright?
2. Shorts don’t fall down.
There are a lot of predictable activities you will find me doing at the gym. Lifting heavy shit, grunting, and complaining about cardio are a few examples, but perhaps the thing I do most continuously is pull up my capris as they slip off my hips. Frankly, I feel like Urkel most of the time I work out.
Unless capris are super-tight around the waist, they are going to fall down when I jump, run, or bounce. Shorts don’t do me like that. Shorts stay put. Shorts don’t betray me. So, the days I know I’ll be fighting with my workout pants all the live long day, I prefer shorts.
3. The only reason shorts are off limits is because we make them off limits.
If the only reason we cover up our thighs is to fit into some bullshit social contract we never signed, something needs to change. We have been duped into thinking the expectations society has for us are the rules. They are not. We make the rules when it comes to our own bodies.
Change must start by way of making decisions of how we dress our own bodies and how we judge other women for how they dress theirs. The next time we see a fellow female gym rat shorting it up, catch your conditioned mind in its tracks. Give her a mental or verbal shout out: “Hell yes, you do you” or “Good for her!” It’s time to smash the patriarchy, one sweaty, exposed thigh at a time.