When I was a student, somebody I knew once criticised me for going for a run because she considered it to be un-feminist. “But aren’t you conforming to patriarchal beauty standards by jogging to be thin?”
Firstly, even if I did want to “conform to patriarchal beauty standards” that would be my choice and it would be just fine if I wanted to.
Secondly, that’s a huge misconception about why women exercise. I say women, because I don’t think that men get this bullshit. Men are allowed to exercise to be fit, to be strong or because it’s fun. Women apparently exercise to loose weight. I know this because every time I talk about going to the gym at least one person chimes in and says, “But you don’t need to to to the gym! You’re so thin!”
Again, if I wanted to go the the gym to loose weight or to keep weight off that would be my choice and it would be just fine. But it’s not the reason I go to the gym so it’s really annoying. And it’s exactly this kind of attitude that does enforce the patriarchy, by assuming women are thinking about their weight all the goddamn time.
Now I have gotten that off my chest, I can move on to talking about the real reasons that I exercise.
I have another memory from around the same time that I was told that jogging what un-feminist. I remember running late at night, around and around the block in which I lived. I remember the way the street lamps hit the pavement, and I remember how powerful I felt. How alive it made me feel to work my legs and raise my heartbeat after a day hunched over a computer writing my dissertation. I remember how soundly I used to sleep, often still in my running kit, when I returned from these late night runs.