Let’s talk about gym selfies.
I have never taken one. Because I do not go to the gym. I suppose I should say “a gym”, but so many people treat it as a holy temple that I feel like I should address it as “The Gym.” Anyway, as I was saying, I am not gym people. I tried it for a while… I’d say a year or two… but to tell you the truth I simply didn’t enjoy it. The brain chemical aftermath was pretty swell, but after a while, it just wasn’t worth suffering through the constant self-consciousness. You’d think it would fade over time. But it didn’t.
Perhaps this is why I don’t “get” gym selfies. I like looking at pretty guys in literally* every other context, but gym selfies bore me at best, and severely irritate me at worst. Typically, when I see a gym selfie, it’s like seeing pictures from a party I wasn’t invited to. And to me, feeling left out is literally** the worst feeling in the world. And sure, you could argue that I could wander into any Gym and sign up for a membership, but one could not possibly guarantee a welcoming, encouraging environment. And thus my bewilderment.
*probably not literally
I know that I say this a lot, so feel free to roll your eyes accordingly, but I do feel like this experience is a bit different as a gay man. Not only because there’s just so much societal pressure to be “fit” and “hot”, but also because there is a lot of instinctual pressure to look like what you’re attracted to. When I see a flexed bicep the size of my head, I grow disappointed because that bicep is the size of my head and not the size of my own bicep, and then I remember that owners of biceps the size of my head will probably never think I’m cute because society says they aren’t supposed to. There have been exceptions, of course, but overall these rules hold true.
I took this question to my personal Facebook profile the other day, and my friends’ responses were less agreeable than I had anticipated, but certainly substantial:
Does anyone, as a spectator, actually find gym selfies interesting? Please explain it to me.
“I hate it when people take selfies at the gym. I especially dislike it if I’m in the gym when they are doing it. Do your god damn work out and get the fuck out.”
“I think it’s only interesting to people also obsessed with the gym. I’ll usually see another girls gym pictures on Instagram, want her biceps and then be inspired to also go and lift heavy things.”
“Actually yes. It’s fun to look at other people gym selfies. The grr face amuses me.”
“I take gym selfies, not shared to general social media, but to individual friends. A few reasons why: a group of us are trying to motivate each other into better health habits, and workout selfies are part of that. Seeing my fit friends working hard to be fit shows me that I have to work hard too. Secondly, I have multiple friends who find sweaty workout pics particularly attractive, and because I feel like the most awkward and unattractive duck at the gym (all my own neuroses), it’s nice having these friends telling me that specifically, at that moment, they find me to be EXTRA attractive, just when I’m feeling awkward and self conscious.”
“For some the gym is more than being healthy it’s about sculpting their ideal. I’m not saying it’s not obnoxious on occasion, I’m just saying we all have our way of preening and flaunting. Just a bunch of peacocks. I personally enjoy seeing a person who is proud of their accompmiments in fitness. Whether it be the ripped athlete showing off or the new person full of sweat after running their first mile. Kudos to them all.”
“I think this is assuming all gym selfies are celebrating normative bodies and/or very “fit” bodies. I like gym selfies when they are weirdos at the gym – fat people who are shamed at the gym all the time, gender non-conforming people, as two examples. Or I like gym selfies of women being really strong. If I ever saw an elderly person taking a gym selfie I would like it. I feel like gyms are hostile places to me as a fat woman who isn’t interested in losing weight but would love to be stronger (I would love gigantic arm muscles!). The gym is full of hostile looks and a million microaggressions assuming I want comments on my supposed goal thin body. Seeing other fat people at the gym is helpful. But yeah, a million normative gym selfies would get to me.”
“I do it and have no shame in it. I have always been a mentally and emotionally strong person. But physical strength is something I always felt like I lacked and being fully in love with my body regardless of whatever state it was in, was always difficult. As it is for many men and women.
It’s not social media Masturbation or Peacocking for everyone. For many, it is about being proud of killing a 7-9 min mile for the first time or being able to bench press your own body weight.
My live birth selfies of both my children are just as impressive as doing 30min of non stop Jump tuck burpees. Also, both of those activities feel the same.
I think it’s important that we don’t hate on people who just do something to feel pride in themselves. Especially in a society where we either preach being body positivity or shame those for not being conventionally fit.
Selfies of a new hairstyle is body positive, selfies of your booty in a new pair of leggings is body positive, selfies of your stretch marks is body positive, selfies of a new fitness accomplishment is body positive.
Just respect the selfies in all it’s form.”
I applaud all of my contributors. Thank you for sharing your brains with me.
I think we can all agree that there are two ways one can share a Gym Selfie: a benevolent expression of progress and inspiration, and an act of extreme douchery and superiority, and the difference can vary between the participant and the spectator.
The main source of my struggle with The Gym as a concept is this: my body is fine. For the most part, it does what it’s supposed to do, and there are many people who find it attractive. I would much rather become better at loving the body that I have than putting in countless hours and dollars into shaping it into the one that thousands of Instagram photos tell me is more desirable, but after several years of fighting that fight, I have grown weary.
It may be time to succumb.
(Not suck cum, you perverts.)