Last week, I walk into the gym for my normal sweat session wearing my usual fitness attire; no make-up, hair piled on top of my head in bird’s nest fashion, a ratty old t-shirt with the arm and neck holes cut out, a pair of black capris with a hole so far up on each side of the inner thighs (due to my thighs rubbing together, of course) that when I stretch post-workout, I have to face a wall in the corner, otherwise I’d get kicked out for hoo-ha exposure.
Anyway, I hop on the elliptical and right off the bat, I see Gym Barbie. You know the type; perfect hair and make-up, gorgeous bodies that are sporting the latest Wu Wu Watermelon garb, not sweating, but glistening as they prance around the facility with almost all the tank tops (my nickname for dudes working out) ogling her at one point or another. I bet these same girls still look pretty when they cry and take shits that smell like a rose garden in June. Or maybe they don’t even poop at all.
About 10 minutes go by and then I notice another Barbie! Not even a minute later, I see yet another one. It’s not unusual to see one Gym Barbie when I workout, but three in one day? Was it, “Dress to Make Others Who Are Uglier Than You Feel Inferior Day” and I missed the memo? Maybe the club I go to doesn’t have a lot of Gym Barbie members, so when I see a few all under the same roof, I’m a little caught off guard.
Why does Gym Barbie fascinate me so? Is it that I’m in awe of the lack of laziness these women possess to spend a good amount of time getting dolled up just to labor away on germy machines and get sprayed with smelly, grunting man sweat? Or is that I’m more intrigued as to why Gym Barbie would do such a, in my opinion, pointless task. So I decide to do a little research to find what’s behind all that hair and glistening beauty.
DOIN’ IT FOR THE DAMES
A Jezebel blog post was published a few years ago, discussing a UK study done on women working out. They found that 70% of women prefer working out with a buddy. However, the surveys that were conducted showed that for some women, it was more about who could look the best, as opposed to the more traditional benefits of pairing up, i.e. accountability, motivation, improving relationships, etc. Katy Kelleher, the author of the post, writes, “Apparently, a third of women ‘always’ buy themselves a new exercise outfit to train with a friend for the first time, and the same proportion (we’re tempted to think the same women) also ‘always’ wore make-up,”. So maybe those three Gym Barbies I saw came together.
DRESSED TO IMPRESS
I found an article in Glamour where the author actually asked a fitness classmate why she dressed up to go to the gym. The lady responded by saying it was for the “hot personal trainers.” Daily Mail ran an article on a poll taken by the online beauty retailer Escentual.com. Two-thirds of the ladies surveyed said they would wear full on make-up to the gym simply because you never know who you might run into. It’s one thing when people come to the gym from their jobs and they’re already made-up, but it’s another when they attend the gym all gussied up BEFORE work. Essentially, they’re having to get ready twice. That’s just too much work for me.
DRESSING TO FEEL BETTER
Then I thought, “Well, maybe it’s a low self-esteem thing and if they look better, they feel better about themselves.” I remember reading an article a couple years back about a woman who beat out depression by doing her hair and make-up everyday and dressing up to match. She describes is beautiful detail how, at first, it was difficult getting ready each morning and that she did not enjoy it the process. Over time, it became easier, not just because she liked the way it made her feel, but because establishing any new habit becomes more effortless the longer you do it. Her story reminded of one of my friends who would put on luscious red lipstick whenever she needed a little pick me up.
Could it be that Gym Barbie needs a little pick me up or a lot of pick me up when going to work out? Perhaps, getting all done up gives her motivation or, for all I know, the poor girl could be depressed and is trying to pull herself up by the bootstraps.
In conclusion, I realized you never know what their story is. They could be dressing up for their BFF, looking to find their soul mate or, quite possibly, hanging by a thread. So the next time you see Gym Barbie meandering around the club, cut her some slack and smile at her. You may just make her day.
Kelleher, K. (2010). Women Wear Makeup to the Gym and Dress Up Like it’s a Fashion Show, Says Study. [online] Jezebel.com. Available at: http://jezebel.com/5559978/women-wear-makeup-to-the-gym-and-dress-like-its-a-fashion-show-says-study [Accessed 20 Dec. 2014].
Slater, L. (2013). Getting Lighter: The Transformative Power of a Little Sprucing Up. O, The Oprah Magazine. [online] Available at: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Depression-Makeover-Lauren-Slater-Essay [Accessed 20 Dec. 2014].
Franklin, C. (2014). Why Do People Get Dressed Up to Go to the Gym. Glamour. [online] Available at: http://www.glamour.com/sex-love-life/blogs/smitten/2009/10/why-do-people-dress-up-to-go-t [Accessed 20 Dec. 2014].