Looking good whilst working hard

So Thursday morning I tweeted something with regards to ‘active makeup’ (Primark’s finest!) now being an actual thing and my thoughts on that – and I’ve been bombarded with responses on both sides of the fence (by bombarded, I mean like, 10 replies) Unfortunately, Twitter has a habit of being a bad place to get into a discussion because 140 characters is literally NOT ENOUGH! So I’m here because I want to open up the conversation and share some of my broader thoughts on the subject.

The Metro article in question seemed to be along my line of thought, specifically that makeup designed for being ‘active’ (however we define that) are a bit ridiculous (and don’t get me into the world of gym selfies and social media, whole dissertation possible on that), but some people disagreed with me agreeing.

No, what others choose to do at the gym (whether that’s wear make up, take selfies, do cardio, do weights, lie down, whatever) does not affect me. People are free to do what they wish and my opinion is not gospel. However, I do have an opinion and that is fine. There will be plenty of people that judge ME for often not wearing makeup, or looking a sweaty mess (where whatever makeup I still had on from during the day is nowhere to be seen) – and the internet is a great place for opinions.

What I do have a problem with though is the potential expectation that we need to be looking 100% perfect at all times – and for some of us, the gym is one of the only places where we don’t have to worry about how we look. A safe haven. “Body confidence” has been a term mentioned a lot (often when people have been disagreeing with my original comment) and I would like to throw it out there the other way.

Some people have low body confidence and make up gives them the nudge they need to get into the gym. However, I’ve gone on a fairly long journey to now feel body confident enough in my own skin that I don’t have to wear make up all the time. Particularly not at the gym. And the fact that there is now make up designed specifically for this purpose alludes to the idea that I *should* be wearing make up at the gym. Body confidence chat works both ways – and what empowers one person can have the opposite impact on another.

Hands up if you’ve ever got to the end of a session, looked over at someone else and thought “hang on, I don’t look like that after I’ve exercised, how does she/he do it?” Or asked yourself why you don’t look like that person in their instagram picture in your #postworkoutselfie? Right, you’ve now just lost all focus you had on congratulating yourself for a great session and focusing on your achievements. Looking perfect after every session IS NOT HUMANLY POSSIBLE. And if you’re not putting your all in because you’re worried that your make up will smudge, or you’ll get a hair out of place – there are bigger things to worry about it life and that upsets me.

Maybe my problem is that I’m just never going to be one of those people who look 100% – and if I wore ‘active makeup’ then I will still end up red in the face, sweating, just with additional smudged make up. But, hang on, that girl over there looks great doesn’t she? Why don’t I look like that? Sod it, I’m never coming back, everyone else looks amazing and I look a mess. And before anyone jumps on me for this – I defy you to find anyone who has never had one single fleeting thought about someone else’s appearance when working out. Body shaming at the gym has been high on the agenda recently, but it’s human nature that we will at some times construct opinions based purely on appearance, and anyone who says they have never ever done that is lying.

One of the responses interested me, comparing wearing make up to like wearing clothes – to be respectable, presentable and confident. So flipping that round – do we now need make up to be respectable and presentable? Will I not be taken seriously in life, my career, my relationships if I’m not wearing make up? According to some, maybe. And that saddens me.

Yes we have an obesity crisis, and yes we need more people exercising – but if wearing make up and looking pretty goes from a healthy confidence boost to a crutch that stops you putting effort in because you’re worried how you’ll look after – we’re scuppered.

I think the positive feelings that stem from a good workout are a million times more valuable than just seeing that your hair is still in place at the end of it. But, hey, some people don’t. Appearance is a thorny topic and everyone is going to have different thoughts and experiences. All I can say is you do you, keep your opinions quiet if they’re directed at a specific person and definitely do not going to go around taking and publishing pictures of people specifically to point out what you disagree with – but I’d prefer it if the media and brands weren’t perpetuating the expectations that women have to look presentable to succeed in every single situation.

Over and out – let me know your thoughts!

 

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4 thoughts on “Looking good whilst working hard

  1. A very interesting point. I don’t wear makeup at all because it irritates my skin and I feel silly wearing it. I was watching a fly on the wall thing the other day about a hotel in London, and they were giving female staff makeup lessons, and talking about insisting on them wearing lipstick when they were serving breakfast. It made me uncomfortable because I can’t imagine being told I had to wear makeup (I don’t think the men had to…) and also why on earth does it matter if the person serving you is wearing makeup or not?

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    • It’s like how there was a story about 6 months ago about forcing someone to wear heels as part of their job – I get being smart and presentable, but why do heels/make up apparently seem to be the only way you can do so!

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  2. Couldn’t agree more. When I finish a workout I’m red-faced, sweaty, and any traces of make-up are generally there because I forgot to remove my mascara properly the night before. Why would I go to all the trouble of putting on a full face of make-up when I’m definitely going to need a shower afterwards?! I just think it’s silly. I’m not even really looking at other people when I’m at the gym, and I’d feel uncomfortable if I was aware of someone else watching me. It’s precious time to focus on making myself fitter and healthier, not posing.

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  3. Ha I am the queen of “accidentally didn’t take all my mascara off”, glad it’s not just me!

    I totally agree – the gym is for one thing really and let me say it isn’t “being the most attractive”. I’ve had guys approach me at the gym before and it’s something that made me feel really self-conscious; it’s somewhere to get on with your own stuff, TRAIN and let others do their thing.

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