When Did I Become Such an Asshole?

‘So exactly when did I start to be an asshole?’ I asked my partner the other day. ‘Was it last year?’ ‘Yes,’ he immediately responded, ‘you have been an asshole for about a year.’ Ah he is so dear to me, so honest, so practical, so non-complimentary. By that I mean only that he does not give compliments, for he is in many ways a complement to me. Indeed we are essentially opposites. He does not work out. He thinks beer tastes good. He can watch multiple episodes of BSG in a row, without moving. He is a night person. In contrast, I am a leap out of bed in the morning, scotch drinking, workaholic, fitness addict who can’t bear more than one hour of TV without cleaning or baking something. Biscotti anyone?  

He is also a very tolerant person who can be friends with almost anyone. I, on the other hand, have become increasingly judgmental, especially within the last year or so. I am nevertheless ashamed of my behaviour, so that’s something isn’t it? Basically, I find it hard to comprehend why people would want to be weak. I wonder what it must feel like not to work out at all, to be skinny fat or just plain fat. Both are equally bad options in my mind. I think it would be fine to be strong and fat in a solid sort of way. I cannot be too specific here because many people who read this blog actually know who I am and might recognize some of my descriptions. Let’s just say that I was at a certain social event that featured a buffet with really crappy, cheap food. While I was avoiding it and downing the soda water, I noticed that a morbidly obese woman returned to fill her plate some four times. I was astonished by how much low quality, high fat food she ate. I was even more surprised, however–and here comes the shame spiral again–by her apparent lack of concern for her appearance. She seemed just fine with being a size 30 or so, and did not care who saw her eat huge amounts in public. Now do you see why I am reluctant to admit my response? For I am supposed to be a feminist, supporting all my sisters, not looking down on them. And I realize that she has every right to live how she wants and to take pleasure in her corporeality. She likely has a full social and sex life, maybe even better than mine. Who am I to judge?

Yet judge I do, on an almost daily basis. I never used to appraise people’s bodies. But I do now, immediately and unthinkingly. I see a chubby young man and affirm ‘If I were him I would start doing some chest presses. What a waste of naturally occuring testosterone.’ Or I muse, ‘Why doesn’t she put that ice cream cone down and run to the nearest bootcamp? Those frozen chemicals cannot possibly taste better than health feels.’ Is the fitness culture having a bad effect on me; is it turning me into a terrible person? That is a definite possibility.  

I mentioned my new-found assholeness to my trainer, a beautiful, strong young woman. She responded by noting her frustration with clients who refused to work hard, finding multiple excuses to avoid the gym, often claiming not to have enough time. (Aside: as far as I can tell, the fittest people at the gym, like the MMA fighters and boxers, are also the busiest; fit people value working out and do not consider it an option). At the same time, she explained that her obese clients always had some kind of psychological reason for wanting to remain fat even as they struggled to lose weight. Women who were abused as children, for instance, might feel safer with a layer of protective fat. Now that does not mean that all fat people are somehow suffering or damaged. (Well, we are all damaged, and I mean that in a good way, for those who have had easy lives are boring idiots). But each case is individual and from now on I will try to squash those negative evaluations before they spring into my mind.

I am reluctant to publish this draft as an official post. I fear that you are thinking badly of me, agreeing ‘yeah, she really is an asshole.’ I also fear that you are correct. But I’m working on it so lighten up, okay? And while you’re at it, get off your lazy asses and go run some stairs or something. Oops….

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About feministfiguregirl

I am a 51-year-old professor named Lianne McTavish who receives as much satisfaction from working out at the gym as from publishing my academic research. About eight years ago, I decided to combine my two primary identities (scholar/gym rat) to create "Feminist Figure Girl," a fictional character who both analyzes and participates in bodybuilding. I competed in my first figure show in June of 2011, and then wrote a book inspired by the process, published by SUNY Press in February 2015. In this blog I will write about and consider my ongoing research on the body, while regularly making fun of myself. I recommend that you start reading my first post from August 2010 (available on the home page), instead of backwards from the most recent one, in order to get the full FFG effect.

8 thoughts on “When Did I Become Such an Asshole?

  1. As a feminist who constantly judges people on their lack of education -even though I know how horrendously elitist and unfeminist that is – I can understand this struggle. It is not nothing, to admit that you are being an asshole when you make those judgements.

    As a fat woman, I will tell you that I’m certain the woman at the buffet knows she is fat and knows people are looking at her and judging her. Actually, I admire this woman for being able to fill up on food in public because we live in a society where people – especially fat people, and especially women – are AFRAID to eat in public. I know you would not catch me going to the buffet four times, even if I wanted to. I’d be too concerned with what people would think.

    But it seems, from this post, that it’s not so much that you’re judging fat or unfit people and more that you just can’t understand why people aren’t as into fitness as you are. Which is legit and pretty normal, I think. Most people have something that they really love and enjoy, and it’s hard to see why other people don’t love it. The thing with fitness is, it’s easy for you to see who is into it and who isn’t, because it manifests itself physically. Whereas the time you spend at the gym, I spend, for example, writing. But I don’t look at people in public and wonder why they aren’t as committed to bettering themselves through writing as I am, because…well, maybe they are. How should I know?

    Anyway maybe that’s a bad example. Regardless, and I’m sure you know this, there are a lot of reasons why people aren’t concerned about their health/fitness. Time, education, money, resources – some people don’t have them, or have too little. Going to the gym is a luxury for the majority of us, as is knowing about nutrition. And some people are just fat, no matter how hard they try not to be. Also, some people are happy with their body. I’m pretty happy with mine.

    For what it’s worth I don’t think you’re an asshole, I just think you’re human. I think most people with these thoughts do a lot less self-examination, so that’s something.

  2. I’m in the same camp. However, I now have cellulite where I never had it before, because I had worked out and beefed up those areas, and when I was forced, economically, to go back to a lifestyle of gymlessness, merely walking and biking everywhere, instead of bench-pressing and heading towards endorphin ecstacy on the elliptical, I developed unsightly lumpiness in odd places. Like, cellulite on the *fronts* of my thighs, ffs? On my upper arms?? It made me wonder if working out is a trap – if you stop, you pay. I’m still tiny, but not overly sculpted. Seriously – I can’t get over it – cellulite on the quads. God help me.

  3. I don’t think you’re an asshole. You’re just noticing peoples’ physiques more now that you are in tune with your own. I too think the same things when I see people who are overweight especially those who are obese but I try to remind myself though that I used to be more than 40+ pounds overweight not too long ago. For me it was simply a lack of education. I did not know how to eat properly or work out effectively. If only I had started this earlier! You have inspired me and my workouts are going well and I will put some pics of my progress in the next month or so.

  4. When I quit smoking I became a judgemental asshole. After the initial period of constant cravings and when I started to master the desire to smoke I began to look at the people around me as weak willed addicts. I couldn’t understand why they would “choose” to stand outside in the cold and slowly kill themselves.
    After a few years I began to “lighten up” and stop my inner snearing non-smoker from judging every person I saw puffing away on the sidewalk. I also realized that my condemnation of those that continued to smoke served a purpose for me personally – it helped me stay away from cigarettes.
    By judging smokers as weak, lazy and basically junkies, I created a group of people that didn’t want to be associated with – thus motivating me to stay smokeless. For me this was a huge motivator – demonize the people with the behavoir you are trying to avoid and succeed in reaching your goal.
    I wonder if every weak, fat, crap food loving person you see is a living cautionary tale that help you push that much harder at the gym.

    • Yes I think you are right. It is true that I don’t want to be that weak fat person. I absolutely loathe smoking too and steer clear of smokers because the second hand smoke gives me a headache. One thing that should be recognized and valued, however, is how hard you worked to quit smoking and how it was a huge accomplishment that benefitted you in so many ways. You were right to take pride in that (though maybe not in feeling better than others, which is what I am also trying to avoid). Exercise is similar (and gym memberships are not required; it is easy to do cardio and strength training outside with no equipment except your own body weight). It is hard to maintain a healthy weight and be strong; it takes dedication and sacrifice, not leisure time or money. When someone comments that I am lucky to be so naturally small, I set them straight. I am a busy professional who tends naturally toward obesity and I take pride in the fact that I am avoiding it. I will just try not to judge those who are unconcerned with fitness.

  5. I wonder what was the trade off for fitness in your case. Because we all have 24 hours a day. Fit people prefer spending more of that time in a gym, which means they often compromise from something else -usually intelligence. Anyway, keep masturbating. And yes, you are an asshole.

  6. I 100% agree with you. My husband is just as fit as me, and we both have a very bad habit of judging people…. In fact, one of our favourite pasttimes is just sitting somewhere and watching people go by. Most of the time we don’t have to speak out loud, because we know what the other person is speaking. Yes, it’s terrible, but I truly believe the fitter you become, the more critical you become of everyone. I guess the idea is that if I invest so much time in my body, why don’t others?

    • Hi Tara, I have actually started to get over this, and be less judgemental about varying levels of fitness. I still find it hard to understand morbid obesity, as it must be uncomfortable and painful to be excessively overweight. I guess I need more education….

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