I bought a copy of ‘Women’s Fitness’ the other day, and my first impression was, WTF? Seriously, what a load of crap. The big angry feminist inside me came roaring out like a banshee. I should probably explain a little bit how a glossy periodical had the power to make me see red.
Back when I was still on a decade’s long quest not to be myself I ended up exploring a lot of dead end roads. Oh, so many, many roads, but we’ll talk about the rest another day. One of them had to do with the shape of my body. After marriage, apart from other changes, I went and gained close to 100 lbs in a little less than a year. Looking back, I think this was about an unconscious need to ensure I would not be tempted to go out and start a new wardrobe of clothing. Instead, I would be a happy fat man and that only. I could be content being a junior Santa in training I thought. As it turns out, I was not and found panting in someone’s office after climbing a single flight of stairs fairly ridiculous. This was definitely not me.
If I wasn’t happy being a fat man, perhaps I would go in the other direction. I put together a killer diet and exercise plan that yielded fantastic results. I would build the body of a Greek god, bulging with toned, powerful muscles; a ripped dynamo of exemplary masculinity. I would resemble that guy I saw in a magazine curling a huge log with chains wrapped around it, fully ready for the Festivus feats of strength. I worked out every other day, bought increasingly heavy kettle bells and Craigslisted a weight machine. It was actually starting to work, until I came to the realization that my new bulging musculature was making me just as uncomfortable with myself as the spare truck tire did. What the hell? No matter, I was mere months away from admitting the truth.
During my quest for muscle nation domination, I subscribed to Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness, both excellent guides packed with medical and nutritional information, exercise explanation and demonstration, biology, featured subjects, personal testimonials, and product reviews. The focus was there, and I felt several magnitudes of healthy better just having read them. These were real men’s magazines! Screw ‘Maxim’ and its puerile little fart jokes and Downey-soft core porn; these are what “real” men read.
I picked up the women’s version of Health and Fitness expecting the same thing, but you know, for women. No. Not even close! Sure, there were a few good hints and tips and feel good stories sandwiched in with the unending stream of cosmetics ads, but it was nothing like the raw “you will be healthy and like it, fucker” feel of the male versions. Essentially, these read like Cosmo with a different cover theme. If I wanted yet more new techniques for painting my nails, getting rid of crows feet, telling what he is thinking in bed, or how to shellac a whimsical footstool I was all set, same as if I bought any of the other dozens of interchangeable magazines out there. If I wanted to understand the intricacies of muscle tone to achieve a killer caboose, identify various nutritional techniques to prepare for a marathon, or even how to work against this bloating thing I now seem to be getting about every month, I can go fry an egg. Sure there are some good recipes, but they seem just a little geared toward making sure “he” will like them too. Total, total bullshit.
Worse yet, I’m beginning to suspect this is only the beginning. Feminists have been saying for many decades now that it’s a separate but unequal world in spite of appearances and assurances otherwise, and I did believe them. There is, however, a difference between believing it and experiencing it. It’s not hard to understand why people get mad. Don’t worry, I’m just a little pissed, but I’ll be all right. Understanding is the first step toward change.