I was five years into my fitness journey when I first noticed the below-listed negative behaviors and comments from random women. At the time, I was personally offended. It was new to me, and I was taken aback by the potency of what felt like anger, hatred, or frustration emitting from the eyes and mouths of these women. Further, my first negative commenter was a teacher whom I respected and thought was above the petty female insecurities that evoke such comments. I was 19, a new mom, and she was in her forties and a mother herself and someone I thought of as an intellectual, a higher thinker, until she revealed the insecure side of herself. Instead of thinking of how healthy it was for a new, young mom to take care of herself, she gave in to her insecurities and insulted my efforts. Here and there, as I got more noticeably fit, and random women spewed out unwarranted insults on a body I built for function, not aesthetics, I found myself scrutinizing my body. But, as the years passed, and my love of a healthy lifestyle grew, I stopped caring about reactions of others.
The derisive behaviors and comments kept coming from co-workers, random women, and even family members. Soon, I noticed a predictable pattern. If you’re a fit woman reading this, you can expect to, or you may already have, experienced the same negative patterns of behavior from other women listed below. These women are disgruntled by your personal success and physical appearance. They hope, consciously or subconsciously, to tear you down and make you like them: those who give up, give in, and/or don’t take action in an area everyone wishes to master, but few do — fitness. I call these women “standard-issue females.” And I call their disparaging comments, “regurgitations.” They simply can’t control the rude, involuntary eruptions that sprout from their mouths when they see you: a woman who has mastered what they have not — mind, body, fitness, and health.
These women pour energy into expelling negative energy upon others while neglecting to take steps to build themselves up and rise above their insecurities. Women who take charge and conquer challenges, in this case, fit women, are their arch enemies.
Non-Verbal Negative Actions
- Hard stares: aka, the evil eye
- Modeling: Yeah, women model for each other. Weird, but reality. Women who have a particular obsession with the superficial and fancy themselves as hot, sexy — choose your label — always feel the need to declare their place as beauty queens of every space they’re in. They do this by walking in front of other women often when there’s plenty of room for them to walk behind you, away from you, anywhere. They’re also always curiously in your line of sight. This is how you know when a woman is modeling for you — a silent challenge. These women are usually what I call “mantelpieces”: girls with pretty faces, but otherwise, they’re “standard-issue.” Their pretty faces may get the adoration of many men, and as a result, they believe every inch of their bodies is perfect. When one of these women see a woman who has worked for her physique, they’re threatened, often because she lacks the discipline to do the same on her own. And in being so accustomed to being the most beautiful creature in every room, she does all that she knows how to do in an attempt to remain queen of her immediate space: she gets in your way, hoping you’ll see just how magnificently beautiful she is — at least in her mind — and models for you. A perk of being a woman with a hard-earned physique, and the self-discipline it requires, is we’re not easily made jealous. We know what we have is miles out of reach of most, and a mere pretty face cannot compete. As far as I’m concerned, a face is a small percentage of one’s whole self. And women like above often fail to consider the whole picture, not just aesthetically, but in various areas of life.
- Attempted physical competition: Usually, it’s a fitness newbie with an inflated sense of their physical abilities who falls into this type of behavior. Sadly for them, it’s always an epic failure when chanced against an experienced athlete. This usually happens at a gym. Here’s the scene: a woman who’s been exercising for a month or so believes she is strong and tough. She likely walks around with graphic tees that say something about working out, like, “I ♡ dumbbells” or “Little Tough Guy.” You know that type. She believes she’s super fit because she’s managed to workout for more than one month. But, more than likely, in order to make any real progress, her boyfriend has to babysit her at the weight rack and hold her hand through easy exercises like bicep curls. Or, because of her lack of self-motivation and self-discipline, she requires the motivation and reassurance of group exercise. With her inflated ego, she thinks she can go head-to-head with an experienced female athlete. She’ll try to mimic the same exercises at the same intensity. But this goes bad from the onset, when she discovers after embarrassing failure, that she can’t do even one rep of the exercise she’s attempting, and she lacks the proper form and/or conditioning to perform at the level of the seasoned athlete she’s mimicking. This insecure creature clearly doesn’t know (or appreciate) that it takes time and dedication to achieve a certain level of strength, fitness, and conditioning to master a given physical skill. A more experienced person wouldn’t follow someone else’s routine on a whim. They know the logic behind individualized training, which is based on fitness level, experience, and goals. Keep trying, newbie.
- The Lost Puppy: This is the woman who follows you around the gym with lost puppy dog eyes. While this is not offensive or rude like the previous non-verbal actions I’ve described, it’s annoying as hell. Her wide eyes and constant dawdling around you at the gym is her way of saying, “help me, help me. I want to be like you.” These women are annoying simply because they’re lost in the first place. I mean, take a moment to read a book or something before signing up at a gym. The key to success isn’t following random people around and hoping they’ll stop what they’re doing to rescue an ignorant gym-goer. These women have every opportunity to get informed as anyone else. I have helped one or two of these women in the past. But, their strategies to reach fitness goals: joining a gym with no game plan and following random people they want to look like around, should have told me that they weren’t dedicated to sticking to anything I showed them. Additionally, these irritating interlopers often eventually have wishy-washy fits of negative regurgitations like the rest. It’s best to leave them roaming aimlessly around the gym than allow them to waste your time.
- Revel in a fantasy that we’re all stupid: Our bodies are our only real possession in life. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer to take care of it. However, when you manage to be of that class of people who actually achieve good health and fitness and keep it up, you often become a source of hatred, particularly if you’re a woman among other women. One of the things these women do in rebellion is act as if you’re stupid. Come on, we all know people love acting like fit people are idiots. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a woman so eager to see this belief fulfilled that she refused to fully listen to things I said. Instead, she cut me off, either assuming she knows what I was going to say and it was inept, or I needed my statement completed by her in order to be correct. These women also tend to state the obvious when speaking to you, or over explain something, hoping to present themselves as the “smart one.” Unlike those who see the achievement of health and fitness as an impossibility or a time-consuming burden, women who manage to maintain good health for years know how to keep a balance. It’s all about education. Oops, did I say education? Yes, I did. Us fit girls are smart after all. Anyone of intelligence should prioritize health and fitness. If you ask me, those who don’t, are themselves stupid. And people who maintain balance in health, fitness, and life inform themselves prior to undertaking the journey; unlike those who give in to the primal emotion of envy and allow it to show.
- Downplay your hard work (minimizing): Here’s a typical sentence, “I know [insert name of random person] who has more muscle, is leaner, etc than you.” Or, extra rude, “I like [insert name of random person] abs/body/etc better than yours.” This is as pointless as saying, “Hey, beautiful people exist, so less fortunate-looking people should lay down, accept my defeat, and never do anything to improve themselves.” That’s idiot logic. The kind of woman who makes such statements is simply attempting to undercut or minimize the physical achievements of another. It’s obvious that this woman has never had a solid relationship with health and fitness because she sees self-improvement, in this case, exercise and good health, as a tool used merely to attain a certain appearance. That’s newbie logic. It’s a reality that everyone has their own unique shape. The attractiveness of one body over another is subjective, making the above introductory comment a frivolous regurgitation from an insecure individual who’s lacking sight of the whole picture: taking care of that which you’ve been given. It’s that simple.
- Fit body shame: “Ewww, women with muscle look disgusting.” The woman who says this doesn’t really believe what she’s saying. She’s simply unaccustomed to seeing a woman in superior shape. It’s a shock to her ego and blows her insecurities wide open. She lacks the discipline to lose a few extra pounds, let alone obtain a lean muscular physique—such is why she regurgitates this negative statement.
- Seek to find fault: This is when a woman’s roving eye scans your entire body, seeking fault: some blemish or imperfection that will put you among the ranks of average women. She’ll pick a specific area or areas of your body and not hesitate to tell you how unattractive she thinks it is—as if you asked her opinion. This is just an effort to make you feel insecure because she’s insecure around you. These women seem to think that all fit women are arrogant and vain and need to be knocked off their pedestals. They’re wrong. We know we’re not perfect. We just work to be better than average.
- Random outbursts of laughter in your presence: A classic tactic used by jealous, insecure women—and children, in an attempt to make the receiver feel insecure. This tactic is weak and petty, yet it’s wielded by women of all ages.
We’ve reached the end, and I’m sure I’ve left some things out. The question now is: why are so many women so negative toward each other? Isn’t this the age of womens’ equality, female superheroes on big screens, female CEOs, and women running for President (Hillary isn’t the first)? The answer is insecurity. Even in an era of women shouting “girl power” and equality to men, obtaining a fit, lean physique and maintaining an ideal weight is still a struggle for many women. Instead of supporting a woman who has overcome these problems and seeking to learn from her, it’s the impulse, and perhaps instinct, of other women to find some mode to belittle her and her accomplishments. Such catty behavior makes me wonder how much girl power can be mustered considering the reality of everyday female interaction or how stable a unity women can attain among one another. Regardless of being dead center in the information age, and knowledge about fat loss and fitness being easily obtainable, many women still struggle to control their bodies. They turn to celebrities (shiny, attention-grabbing objects), magazines, and quick-fix articles in product-driven online sites for guidance, instead of turning to more logical sources: professional trainers, coaches, fitness institutions, and books written by them.
If you’re a fit woman reading this, be proud that you’re a rare specimen. You have the discipline and know-how. You have something that most women don’t, and likely won’t. If they give you hard stares and say negative, undercutting things to you, just know that all “standard-issue” women use the same standard-issue tactics in an attempt to assuage their insecurities when around you. Their tactics will never stop me from hitting the gym, and they shouldn’t stop you either.
Have something to add to the list above? Contact me.
MEET SYLVIA PETRO — THE BROKE, FIT SINGLE MOM: As an athlete of over 16 years and a broke single mom for most of that time, I created this site to aid not only broke single parents to a life of fitness, but anyone who believes the road to fitness requires a lot of cash or time. In reality, the road to fitness is paved with knowledge and firm principles; informing readers about mastering both of those building blocks is my goal.