Accused of “looking like a dude”

It’s 6 am. The gym I have been going to for four years is full of regulars, except two new men. I see them eye me as I walk past. I know where this is going.

I know because I’ve been here before. New guys. Macho fellas who come for a week or two, then fizzle out. It’s not the chest-beating place they were looking for.

The gym I use is a recreation center for the community. There are pools, a gymnasium with an elevated track, exercise rooms, and a fitness area. The fitness area has cardio machines, weight machines, and a long mirror and racks of dumbbells and weight benches.

This morning I walk up the stairs to the fitness area, and the two new bros are alone in front of the long mirror. I walk past them to put my gear on the shelf. I hit the track to do my warm up.

All through my workout, I see them out of the corner of my eye, always in my peripheral. Finally, around 6:45 I see them head for the stairs. They’re walking between the row of benches and cardio machines, then one breaks off and veers my direction. My back is to him when he walks past and says:

“Aren’t you afraid of looking like a dude?”

I am startled by this, and appalled, but remember his comment has more to do with him than me. But, no, I’m not “afraid of looking like a dude.”

I mean, I’m fierce at 5 feet 3. I’m 131 with 12.5 inch biceps and 22 inch thighs. I get it. I’m a whole lotta awesome. He was intimidated by a strong woman. Maybe if he would have been nice, I could have introduced him to the morning crowd, or shown him a thing or two. But he made his choice.

What worries me most about his comment is people think this kind of crap each day, and either act on it or don’t. It’s this kind of thinking that perpetuates the “like a girl” perception of women and sports. It’s what makes some women not want to weight train for fear of bulking up. It’s what makes girls quit sports. It’s what keeps women from feeling comfortable at the gym.

Let me tell you, I look great and I feel great. As you can see above, strong is beautiful. Don’t let any person stop you. You do you. They are not worth it.