The Wall Street Journal really seems to want to rile Mamas up with their ridiculous headlines. First there was the Tiger Mom nonsense; then came the article on perfect Parisian kids, and now this: “Don’t Hate Her for Being Fit.”
The header on my browser alters the headline just a bit to “Don’t Hate Her Because She Finds Time for the Workout,” but the minor wording changes doesn’t affect my understanding or opinion of the article, which is that this “trend piece” only serves to make moms feel bad about themselves, thus bringing them more easily into the marketeers’ fray.
In other words, it’s a faux-think piece about how educated women with kids are trying to have it all, including a nice body; after interviewing four mamas, including at least one very upper-middle-class mama who appears to be addicted to exercise, the author seems to have found a “trend” among the American population.
“Fit moms spend nearly every free minute working out, cross-training for triathlons and scheduling regular boot camps and yoga.”
Ostrich, pull your head up out of the sand. Fit moms are those who care enough about their bodies and their children to eat well and get exercise, not those who teach their daughters that Pilates in the park is the best way to spend your only waking hours together after you’ve already put in nine miles. Does anyone else see an eating disorder in that kid’s future? What’s the new trend — exercise anorexia?
Later in the piece, the author cites a woman who bikes 3.5 miles pulling her kids in a trailer. Wait a minute, THIS is the happy-crazy fitness that marketeers are going after? That’s my daily commute, and I don’t need a stinky to-fro dress to do it (doubt I’d be able to sell anything at the bake sale if I showed up in that after my morning run). The two women and their workouts are hardly comparable, which makes this such a strange, sad statement piece. Is this a fat-shaming piece aimed at overworked moms?
I have to admit that I’m addicted to my daily workout for all of its mind-clearing, body-shaping benefits, but I couldn’t do it if I didn’t have state-subsidized day care and were attempting to pull in a full-time salary. I wonder, though, how discouraging reading this would be to women who don’t have those benefits, who already feel like crap about their bodies and now are told not to hate women who have the time and energy to reshape their post-baby figure while adorned in $200 Lycra sweatpants.
I just spent a week with one such woman and it was the most difficult time in my life in terms of thinking about body issues. Said friend works 40+ hours a week, often late into the evening, and to run, she’d have to either miss out on the two hours a day she can see her kid while he’s awake or on the two hours a night she can spend with her husband if one of them isn’t too tired at the end of a long day. She’s desperately unhappy with her body and I wonder, what would reading about these other moms do to her ego? Spending the week with me seemed to ravage her because she couldn’t keep up with my (very slow, very short) jog and she’s extremely unhappy with her weight. “What should I do? I don’t want to look like this anymore,” she kept asking me, the single mom who found time to run by either plopping my kid in the gym’s day care for an hour or by taking two hours out of my working day to run instead of working on client projects while the kid’s at kita (I freelance, I have that luxury, though it has added up in terms of lost income). I may not have the answer to my friend’s question, but I sure don’t think it lies in buying new gear or enrolling in a Diva shape-up race.
This whole discussion bothers me, but the response I heard from one commenter bothers me even more: “That’s why I don’t buy Lululemon.” As if by not purchasing one brand exempts you from the greater societal arguments inherent in this piece, which is that you are in some way inferior if you are a mother not making time for fitness in your life. It’s just sooo easy to do, if you ask these four women.
The conclusion here is the kicker for me: “Support from a spouse is a must, these women say.” No no no. Let’s not give women who want to get fit and feel bad because they can’t another excuse to not do it. Your spouse doesn’t need to support you (and in 3 of these 4 women’s cases, dude’s non-existent in the daily routine, so where that conclusion came from is beyond me). YOU need to support you. And you don’t need that fancy shit to do that.