Y’all, I just spent an hour or so talking about workout routines, weight, and the ridiculousness of pants sizing with two other women, and not one of us lapsed for an instant into self-loathing or even self-judgment. (The other two are quite thin, but as all our thin readers know, that hardly lets you off the hook normally.) The phrase “I have no idea what I weigh” was used. All three of us agreed that we would be fine with pants labeled according to waist size, if some kind of non-insane sizing standard could not be agreed upon, but we acknowledged that most women’s fear of being labeled an unacceptable size would keep that from ever happening. The two of us who are regular gymgoers discussed machines and joked about trying to do pullups, and we all talked about our feelings regarding socializing during a workout (we object). Not on the agenda: diet talk, plans for weight loss, or self-recrimination about wearing the wrong size or weighing too much or being shaped wrong or not working out enough.
Now, I realize that I have some unusually sane friends. But even though it’s the exception rather than the rule, I still think we should celebrate small victories like this. Every time a bunch of women can get excited about clothes or exercise without hating themselves or each other, an angel seriously gets its wings, you guys. Slowly but relentlessly, we — all of us — are changing the psychological landscape available to women, clearing out space for us to think and talk about more important things than our big asses and our tiny salads. Even when we’re not getting together to plot out the fourth wave of feminism, something as simple as enthusing about our exercise habits instead of lamenting or judging or comparing or bragging about them is HUGE. And I feel like it’s gotta be self-propagating. The more conversations like this happen, the more this conversational space is opened up as a viable locus for discourse, and the more people can move in from the fringes.
My challenge to you today: push the boundaries of the conversations about food, diet, and exercise that women are allowed to have. It’s great to talk about other stuff, and that’s an act of rebellion in and of itself — because of course, our obsession with taking up less space is supposed to take up all our time, and weaken our ability to do anything else. But I’m giddy about the radical possibilities of talking about these minefield issues without submitting to self-loathing or oneupsmanship. Target your sanest friends, and have a public conversation about tasty food and how tasty it is, or exercise and how fun it is, or comfortable clothes and how cute they can be. Who knows? The idea just might catch on.