Fit is a Feminist Issue




This was no fun. Not meeting Lady Thatcher – that was one of the greatest honours I could imagine. But looking at myself in the photo afterwards; ; heavy, crumpled, tired, like I’d just given up.
The title of this piece is a takeoff of the famous book by Susie Orbach, “Fat is a Feminist Issue”, 2006.

It’s a worthy tome, discussing body image pressures and the uselessness of dieting. I’m certainly with her on the latter. And on the former, women are bombarded with contradictory pressures. The biggest ones come from the fashion industry, of course. Models are grossly underweight, and magazine images are airbrushed. No, you’ll never look like those women – *those women* don’t look like that either.

But unfashionista does believe in fitness. When I started

the blog, I got a tweet from “intersectional feminist” @Jonanamary onTwitter (no, me neither) saying that the line “half an hour’s jogging a day” is what makes you look slimmer” was sexist, fattist etc etc. I should not criticise fat, but celebrate it. Equally, I should not make the observation that most models are too skinny and not like real women.

We debated back and forth for a bit until I asked her if she was saying that it is wrong to advocate healthy body weight as a goal. If so, unfashionista rejects that totally.

Nobody should ever be ashamed of their body. unfashionistas love their curves and dress to show them off – see Plus Size Style gallery – or of very skinny they play that up too. But accepting your body and being proud of who you are does NOT mean you don’t also try to change it.

What does fitness do for style and beauty? Everything. Even before you lose weight, you firm up. If underweight, you will get a better appetite from a brisk walk. Your skin clears up. You sleep better. You raise your self-esteem, and that leads you to dress more confidently. You will become less depressed – aerobic exercise has been shown in study after study to have an anti-depressant benefit equal to talk therapy. You will be at less risk of osteoporosis in later life. You’ll have great legs and a nice, firm, round tush.

In the day with your kids, or at work, or both, you’ll have more energy, You will achieve more at work because of your extra energy and confidence. It becomes likely you’ll live longer. You will reduce anxiety attacks (something I know all about). You’ll drink less alcohol because you’ll be less stressed. If you could take a pill for ‘half an hour’s exercise a day’ it would be the most successful drug ever invented.

So why don’t women work out? Why is our average size (for both men and women) overweight?

I think you can blame all kinds of factors. Modern life is sedentary. Gym memberships are expensive, and mums feel shut out. Why join a gym? You have to pack your stuff, get there, work out, shower, get changed and get back to home/work. So a half hour jog on a treadmill is 1.5 to 2 hours time commitment. No mum has that time to spare!

Then, exercise doesn’t seem to work. You start out in January with your resolutions, full of hope. You kill yourself jogging, hate it, feel out of breath and freezing, and don’t go again.

Exercise as usually practised is unpleasant. Women join classes with much fitter, slimmer women, and it’s a pain. Women kill themselves following DVDs with intricate steps. They literally try to run before they can walk. Exercise is thus to be dreaded, and guess what?

You can never consistently do anything you hate. Nor can you consistently refrain from anything you love.

There is only ONE way to get fit and stay fit if you’ve never done it before. Find exercise you either positively like, or don’t hate, and do it every day, or at least five days a week.

The stuff the papers feed you is rubbish. Twenty minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week won’t help. If you only work out three times a week, you will never feel the true improvements that will make you stick at it. Also, you will relapse so that each time you start it’s as tough as the time before. Work out Monday-Friday or Mon-Sat, and within one week (by Sat, or by Fri) you will feel ‘this is easy, I can do this’.

I was so depressed when after birth I weighed nearly 180 lbs. I felt fat, exhausted, unattractive and gross. No way was I heading outside in a tracksuit to be laughed at. Plu

s I wanted to be near the baby just in case. I was breastfeeding, I was tired and I had neither the time nor the inclination to get to a gym I couldn’t afford and workout with all the superfit heroes.

Here’s what I did – Lesley Sansone. You see her 5 minute walk break elsewhere on unfashionista. She revolutionised exercise for many, because she produced DVDs that literally any able-bodied person can do and can do every day. £12.95, and your life will never be the same again.

Just read those reviews, ladies!

Get a pair of running shoes and a sports bra and get this DVD. It contains two walks. The one mile walk is just 15 minutes. Start with that. the two mile is 30 minutes. Once you get to the two mile daily you will be really seeing changes in your life.

This is how I started. And

eventually I progressed to outside in the spring, walking a bit then jogging a bit, then jogging, then running, and now adding w

eights. It was a slow progress over a couple of years, but always getting better, always a journey, always progress. It changed my life and made me so much happier.

With Sansone’s walking, I could do it. The blood flowed. It was private. It fit in around ME and MY schedule. When I had half an our or even just fifteen minutes and the baby w

as napping, on went the trainers and the DVD and off I started.

Please consider giving yourself this gift. It’s beauty, style, and happiness all at once, and all in thirty minutes. Best of all, that time is time for you – nobody else. No boss, no kids, no husband, just you, and your body and your life.

Just do it – five days a week, not three. It will be the best beauty decision you ever make.



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