Another day with a lifting and running combo– what a brutal thing. I bumped my lifts up again, 4 sets of 5 at 115lb for bench and at 135lb for squats, then 5 and 3 reps at 185lb for deadlift. Then I hobbled/ran 2 miles. My calves are so tired! It was tough.
Plenty of papers have been written about the idea of the panopticon and how it can be applied to feminist thought; the idea that women feel constantly watched– even when alone– and under pressure to perform according to norms is certainly well-covered ground. I’ve observed it in myself and I’ve seen other women act that way too. How many times have you stood a certain way because someone was watching, or felt sexy because you imagined someone else found you sexy?
Now, the weight room is a utilitarian space, especially at my little corporate gym. We go in there, lift heavy things, put them down again, and call it a day. I want to say that I don’t pay much attention to my appearance when I’m there. And yet… I am constantly conscious of being watched, and aware of my own actions as if I’m watching from the outside. It’s not just the one-way mirror between the dumbbells and the office… and it’s not just how men seem to find it necessary to comment on my lifting… it’s myself, I’m conscious of how I look when I’m resting between sets, when I’m stretching, when I’m lifting. There’s definitely a performative feel sometimes, and it’s very strange to realize that in the moment. Who would I be performing for, especially when it’s just me in there?
As a woman (particularly a fat woman) I feel hypervisible in the gym, especially in the weight room. It bothers me deeply that I’ve internalized this self-surveillance– I don’t even give myself a break from it when I’m alone.
Am I screaming into the void here? Do you guys feel this way too?