Last weekend, I committed an unspeakable crime: I purchased activewear in a size 2X. Leggings and a form-fitting neon-pink sports top, to be specific. And I didn’t just buy it—I wore it. In public.
This act was a flagrant violation of the Fat-Girl Exercise Commandments. If you are of a certain size and have ever tried to exercise, then you already know. The Commandments are unspoken. Nobody says them out loud. They’re not taught or instilled. They just… are.
Every functional society is governed by a set of laws, and the FGECs are just that: an agreed-upon list of rules that dictate the exercise habits of us big’uns. If you’re a fat gal— chubby, pudgy, plump, plus-sized, or “apple shaped”—or if the only item at Victoria’s Secret capable of covering your body is perfume—well, then, these rules are for you.
For the unenlightened (thin-framed, slightly-built, small-waisted) folks, let’s review.
Fat-Girl Exercise Commandments
As a fat girl, it is your sole responsibility to get thin. Any second of the day not spent eating celery or reading Dr. Oz books must be spent exercising. In doing so, thou must obey the following six rules:
- Suck in your stomach. At all times. In fact, forget exercise—this rule applies to everything. Basically, from the moment you leave your house in the morning until you disappear under the covers at night, don’t even think about exhaling.
- Bathing suits must have skirts—the longer and more material-dense the better. Your bathing suit should look more like your last bridesmaid dress than an actual swimming implement. Also, from here until eternity, fat-girl suits shall come in only two color schemes: pure black and Amazonian-panther-jungle print. (It distracts from the tummy.)
- Don’t buy sports bras—most brands don’t make them in your size anyway. Your regular old cotton Target bra will more than suffice. If the underwire breaks free and stabs you repeatedly in the side-boob, that’s just motivation to run faster. Besides, you shouldn’t be doing activity vigorous enough to necessitate a sports bra in the first place… do you know how much jiggle that would produce? We don’t want to have to hide the children.
- There’s a reason why Nike, Lululemon, and 99 percent of the other activewear brands don’t make clothes for people over 175 pounds: it’s because nobody wants to see you in hot-pink Lycra. Who are you to demand specialized workout wear? You’ve got a pair of faded Walmart stretch pants and an old sleep shirt (pizza stained and gently pilled) that’ll do just fine. Don’t get uppity.
- If you do choose to adorn your body in fluorescent workout wear (against the extreme objection of your friends and neighbors… I believe a petition was circulated), for the love of god make it baggy. Boys don’t make passes at girls with skintight-spandex-covered asses.
- Finally—and most importantly—always be palatable. Don’t do anything that could make others squeamish or uncomfortable. No sweating, groaning, grunting, huffing, or puffing. Always be cognizant of the major Jiggle Danger Areas: stomach, arms, thighs, and ass. Be sure to keep them in check at all times. Pause your workout often to tug your shirt down lest your prodigious stomach dangle and flap in the breeze.
I’m a good fat girl; I have always played by the rules. Sucked it in. Worn baggy, long-sleeved shirts on 80-degree days. Apologized for taking up too much space in a track lane (once my elbow accidentally leeched into lane 2; the guy next to me had to move his arm three inches to avoid touching me. It was a close call.) But when I considered wearing Spanx to jog last weekend, I knew things had gone too far.
Ladies, I think it’s high time we take back the Commandments. We need to say “fuck it all!” to society’s ideals about how we exercise and what we look like while we’re doing it. Let’s sweat and move our bodies in clothing that WE want to wear.
I’ll start. Here I am in my new workout uniform. The slinky tank fabric clings to every stomach roll, the “chicken cutlets” on my arms dangle, and I’ve got side-boob spilling all OVER my business. And yet it’s one of the proudest photos I’ve ever posted. I walk-jogged 4.27 miles and burned 627 calories. I felt like a warrior.
Let’s not stop there—let’s burn the Commandments and rewrite them anew. Here are my proposed NEW Fat-Girl Exercise Commandments—which will henceforth be called simply Exercise Commandments. Because it doesn’t matter if we’re fat girls; skinny girls; black, white, or purple girls; trans girls; young or old girls; or even whether we’re girls at all. It just matters that we’re doing good things for our bodies.
- Breathe deeply. Exhale slowly. Smell the flowers, the fresh-cut grass, or the icy metallic scent of an impending snow. Allow your stomach to do as it damn well pleases.
- A swimsuit is a piece of clothing designed to be immersed in water. That’s it. It has no greater power, so let’s stop treating it like it does.
- Get thee to a bra shop—stat. Like, now. Yesterday. A year ago. Seriously. A professional bra fitting was the greatest and most loving thing I ever did for my body. Buy three: a sports bra capable of handling your girls, an everyday workhorse, and a sexy little (or big) number.
- Trash the five-sizes-too-big shirt you once wore to paint your living room. Buy tanks, tees, shorts, and crop pants in sturdy, quality materials: cotton or moisture-wicking fabrics will feel the best when you sweat. Check out a great catalog called Junonia for activewear up to size 6X.
- Wear what you’re comfortable in—no exceptions. I find that the more material I have on my body, the more likely things are to bunch, rub, and irritate. If you choose to wear tight-fitting clothing, do it unapologetically. It’s freeing.
- Sweat, grunt, groan, trip, fall over, get back up again, and let your jiggly thighs and flabby stomach bounce happily along. If you pass a judgmental gaggle of gawking girls or snickering guys, don’t drop your head—make eye contact, smile, offer a friendly “hi!” and keep on trucking. In the scheme of things, who cares—I mean, really?
Ready to join the movement? Spread the word—share with fellow FGEC’ers. Add your own Commandments. Share your warrior-woman workout pics. I can’t wait to see what you got. RAWRRR!