I was giving a tour of Equinox the other day and when I got to the women’s locker room, I had just gotten to the middle of my shpeal- “and here is the steam room where you can relax in an enclosed space with large amounts of high-temperature steam. Nothing rids the body and soul of harmful life toxins quite like spending some time in a high-humidity environment. Possibly why Florida is so popular among those who have reached a certain age in life?” When the door to the steam room opened and gusts of what looked like smoke from a raging eucalyptus forest fire poured out. The woman I was giving a tour to, Lisa, and I both stepped back, startled, watching as a figure emerged, silhouetted against the smoke, much like the opening of a Lady Gaga concert, until the smoke cleared and the overhead lights spotlighted the star- a middle aged slightly out of shape woman, completely naked and glistening, just standing there in the doorway, staring at us. I turned to Lisa, and nudged her gently in the arm, what great timing! I planned this as part of the tour so you can get the full ambiance of it all! I was now internally struggling. I wanted to fall to my knees in a fit of laughter- please God, grant me the grace to control myself so as not to embarrass this innocent, vulnerable, naked woman who was just trying to sweat it out in the safety of the women’s locker room. I turned to Lisa, grasping my hands together as if I was about to curtsy and begin to do-se-do with her. “Do you enjoy Zumba?” I asked her, trying not to stare at Lady Oh My GaGa’s large sagging melons, her stomach also sagging halfway down to her knees. Lisa and I turned to continue through the locker room as Lady Oh My GaGa followed us, shaking out her hair and strutting through the locker room like she was Gisele Bundchen opening the Victoria Secret fashion show, her melons swaying in the air conditioning.
I was suddenly struck with a strange familiarity of this woman. How do I know her? Then the memory came to me. I had signed this woman up for her membership. “Now I just need a quick picture just for the database,” I had told her, and she looked like I had just informed her that I was going to take her monthly membership fee and put it towards feeding a family in Africa, and she would have to lift her butt via walking up a mountain instead of using Equinox’s butt blaster machine. “Oh no, no one told me I would have to get my picture taken today. No one told me I would have to do that. I’m not ready.” I looked at her, her perfectly manicured hair and face, she was even wearing fake eyelashes. What could you possibly do to get more ready? I wondered. “You look beautiful, the picture doesn’t go anywhere, it just acts as an identification for security purposes, like a drivers license. Do you want to see my drivers license I look like such a ca-reep,” I offered, words just flying out of my mouth like water balloons, exploding all over her. She kind of smiled but in a way that suggested she had surpassed being kind of untrusting of me to being one hundred percent, without a doubt, untrusting of me. “Absolutely not, I’m just not ready yet.” She looked at me again and I knew with one leveling of her eyes that if I continued to press on, she would kill me. “Okie dokie!” I said smiling like a naughty oppsom rifling through a garbage can, and I could feel my co-worker behind me hang his head in embarrassment from what I assume was this whole scene, possibly existence in general, and absolutely the both of us. Now, I was confronted with the uncomfortable image of her wandering around a room full of strangers completely naked. Wut? How can she let her melons freefall in front of us all, but not have a picture of her face, the one thing she exposes to everyone and everything, everyday, taken? I’m not a big fan of getting my picture taken, but I also am not a big fan of walking around naked in plain sight and in front of others. My insecurity stays at a consistent level of don’t look at me.
There’s the don’t look at me insecurity and there’s the look at me look at me insecurity. At a gym you will see muscular men strut around like mating peacocks, and you will also see women wearing push up bras and walking on a treadmill at a pace that will keep their face from melting off, like a timid hamster that’s wearing foundation. It’s confusing. The people at the gym at five in the morning want to feel good, but after nine it’s all people who just want to look good. We are taught that if we look good, life will be better for us. People who look good get to be in movies and fashion ads and they get to be rich and desired by masses of other less good looking humans, they get to be “special.” People who look good feel good right? But I have to wonder if that’s what we the “normals” should be focusing so much time and energy into obtaining or if everyone, even the “specials” just want to feel good about themselves. There comes a point where you have to look at yourself as more than a face and freefalling melons, but as a complex being, entirely unique from others. Sometimes I look at Victoria Secret models and I curse the Lord for creating me as such a beastly troll in comparison. Why aren’t I beautiful enough to get paid to wear heavy fake angel wings and walk down a glittery runway in a million dollar fantasy bra? But what’s the point in thinking that? The better question to ask yourself may be why is somebody paid to do that? I was born who I am and it’s much more productive to spend my lifetime enjoying being me, figuring out what the world needs and what I can offer it, rather than let society’s perceptions mold my own perception of myself.
There is a man who comes into the gym every morning, his name is Tighe, I never call him by name because to me Tighe reads “Tiggy” and I have no idea if that is correct, so I just smile and welcome him as sir (hopefully one day I will know him well enough that he can be Sir Tiggy) and he winks at me. Tighe stands out among the crowd not only because he has long blonde hair like a surfer, and is always wearing baggy jeans tucked into Uggs, a zip up hoodie and a lot of turquoise rings. He stands out because he has a natural charisma and gentleness that endears everyone he encounters to him, you can watch people focus their attention towards him as he moves through the building. People who are unapologeticlly themseleves seem to be the most charasmatic human beings I’ve ever met, probably because they allow others to be themseleves free of judgment. Tighe understands that it doesn’t matter if you are one hundred percent inappropriately dressed to operate an ab machine correctly, no one will truly judge you if you don’t give a flying fuck or if you are kind to everyone you encounter, hopefully a nice balanced mix of the two. I wonder if the “specials” of society, the Brad Pitt’s or the Gisele Bundchen’s struggle with being able to be themseleves because they’ve been developed into an image that creates a profit. Whereas the “normals” are faced with the constraints of chasing this projected image because it’s everywhere and it’s what we are told is what we should be striving to be, but the normals also have the freedom to rise above any and all constraints- on ourselves and on others. No one can give off the right perception of themselves if they are constantly comparing themselves to anyone else, let alone what society displays as the ideal version of what they should be.
It is interesting to me that Lady Oh My GaGa felt like she would be judged by others off her ID picture, her already made up face needed to be covered up even more, but when she was makeupless and completely naked (and in a women’s locker room but still), she felt confident enough to strut around other women, most of which who were in much better shape, unapologetically herself with no mask or clothes to cover up who she was born into the world being.