Trying Too Hard, Fitness Edition: From A Metal-Studded Sports Bra to A Book Proposal For Celebrating Thin People

by Charlotte on December 5, 2012 · 27 comments

My hair doesn’t do “casual dreadlocks” a la the kind Angelina Jolie sported in the movie Gone in 60 Seconds (also known as movie #284 where Nicholas Cage is supposed to be the romantic lead but instead comes off as a total creeper). I found that out the hard way in high school when I spent two hours meticulously twisting my Manic-Panic’d hair into fake dreads with hair wax and elbow grease. The wax fell out but the grease stayed, ruining the whole “I just woke up looking this sexily disheveled and edgy” look I was going for.

That’s right, I lost two hours of my life when I could have been watching Felicity instead trying to make it look like I hadn’t tried at all. (Why all the wasted time and hair product? For a boy. Of course. ) 

This is what is called Trying Too Hard. And sometimes, I’ll admit, I have it. I’ve even (especially?) been known to Try Too Hard in the gym. I can be a show-off which is stupid for a variety of reasons but particularly because I’m not, shall we say, a gifted athlete. If there was an award for falling on my butt in public, I’d win it. But the upside of being such a dork is that I can recognize Trying Too Hard when I see it.

And this, my friends, is it:

This was the picture that accompanied my invitation to a fitness charity event titled “Bubbles, Baubles and Boobs.” What – no Booze? It’s alliterative too!

Okay, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Chick is hawt. And I kinda want those pants. Even though they look like bandages. And even though they’d make me look like Tweedle Dee at the rollerderby. But the faux-hawk, spaceman shoes and smokey eyes all scream make-out not workout. Even still, I could get past that. Heck I’m the girl who works out in a liquid silver top and teased ponytail. I own 12 tutus and I’ve never had a ballet lesson in my life.

It was the bra that did me in. Those are metal insects glue-gunned to her high-impact zip-front push-up! This is why you should never mix Pinterest and Pabst! When I saw this all I could think about was the time I wore a hot pink leotard covered in black sequins and how bad those little suckers CHAFED. I was rubbed raw in all the wrong places by the time that 80′s-themed Turbokick class was done. There’s fashionable and then there’s completely non-functional. Unless you can do your entire workout holding your arms away from your body. And your tetanus shot is current. (But – could you count the weight as part of your chest press?)

But faux-hawk girl is sort-of delightfully Trying Too Hard. Yeah so she’ll have permanent dragonfly-shaped welts and sweat Boy George tears. It’s all in good fun.

Then I got to this girl who is, forgive me for being judge-y, Trying Too Hard to be a jerk:

Yes, her frowny-face sign (oddly positioned in front of the ENTIRE Les Mills catalog) actually says “I’m sorry the butt I work for isn’t as good as the one you ate for.” 

Meet Britton Delizia, officially Trying Too Hard to be the face of fit women. She started a Kickstarter (a site where you propose a project and then people give you money to kickstart it if they like it) to “write a book celebrating thin and beautiful women” because she feels like “skinny-shaming” is out of control and she doesn’t want to “apologize for her metabolism anymore”.  She describes her project as a “collection of images of women standing up against a society that protects fat culture while bastardizing thin and athletic women” I see two problems with her business plan.

1. That book has been written. It’s called Maxim. And Vogue. And EveryMagazineEver.

2. No one should be shamed for being skinny – I don’t care if it’s an eating disorder, hard work or just their God-given genetic jackpot, we shouldn’t make people feel bad about their bodies. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean fat-shaming is the cure. And honestly given the two, I think fat-shaming is the much larger problem in our society.

3. Also: I don’t think “bastardized” means what she thinks it means. But taken literally that does put the book in a whole new light. I might actually read that book.

Anticipating the inevitable backlash, she writes,

“It doesn’t make you stupid or shallow or un-motherly or bad person to want to take care of your body.” [Charlotte's note: Who said it did?]

“I think this book will probably upset a few people, i think it will be looked at wrong by some people..” [Charlotte's note: Really? You think? Forge ahead then.]

“But.. if it just makes it into the hands of ONE little girl who feels like she has to be overweight to fit in with the current 70% of the overweight population of America, and it gives her the strength to know that being healthy isnt a bad thing.” [Charlotte's note: This has got to be a joke, right? Survey a group of heavy people and a group of thin people and ask them who feels like they don't fit in in America. "Being healthy" is the entire platform of First Lady Michelle Obama - if that doesn't make it popular I don't know what does! This is the woman who convinced us all that "griege" is the hottest nail color of the season!]

On a kinder note, I get her point. I don’t like it either when people tell a thin girl to “go eat a sandwich already!” or wear XXL t-shirts that say “I conquered anorexia”. It’s rude. But after reading her whole proposal (yes, my grammarian’s heart hurts) I get the feeling that it’s born less of a desire to help a marginalized group and more to get attention and a whole lot of “zomg you have amazing abs!!!” comments. Which, you know, she does. Still doesn’t give her the right to be a jerk about it.

Have you ever “tried too hard” in the gym? What do you think of the metal-bugs top? And what say you about Delizia’s (it is taking everything in me to not write Ditzy Delizia) kickstarter?

 

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Bek @ Crave December 5, 2012 at 11:50 pm

You can never try too hard in a workout ;) unless of course…you end up passing out..maybe take it easy ;)

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Katie December 6, 2012 at 5:52 am

The grammar in her sign is just terrible, and so is her idea. Like you said, if one wanted to see skinny-glorification, buy a magazine or watch a movie :)

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etejoie December 6, 2012 at 6:09 am

I just Googled griege. Thinking it might look kinda sickly on a pale girl like me?

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Naomi/Dragonmamma December 6, 2012 at 6:47 am

Ditzy will not be my charity of choice this year, let’s just leave it at that.

I always try too hard in the gym; that’s my gym philosophy. The flip-side is that I don’t try hard enough in the kitchen (or pantry or food-buffet line) which is probably more than 50%. (Example: After lunch yesterday, I was given two giant pieces of killer carrot cake. One was supposed to be for my husband. He never knew of its existence.)

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Kim December 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Sorry, but the cake that your husband never knew existed is funny!!! I might have done the same thing a time or twenty!

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Kate December 6, 2012 at 7:06 am

In all fairness, I did eat on some of my curvy booty. But she shouldn’t be jealous, because lots of people love abs. ^_^

Is it wrong if I take the sign literally, check out my curves in the mirror, and move on?

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Caitlin December 6, 2012 at 7:23 am

Haha, this post made me laugh. That’s pretty much all I can do re: this Kickstarter is alternately fume and laugh, then fume some more and laugh some more. I really hate that this lady is out there trying to position herself as some kind of Fairy Godmother for fit chicks. Way to make us all look like illiterate a-holes, lady.

As far as trying too hard in the gym? I don’t think I do. I mean, I put in a lot of effort but I don’t, like, have a need to prove I belong. If anything, I’ve proven I belong by actually going with regularity, by doing my research ahead of time so I know how to use the equipment and then just doing my business without too much fuss.

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Cbuffy December 6, 2012 at 7:48 am

This is clearly not a plan to “help” the poor down-trodden thin people. This is a plan to pay her rent. And in that, I imagine she’ll be on her own…

Is there any such thing as trying too hard in a workout? I suppose there is, if you work to the point of damage and sprain – but duh…it’s called WORKout. grin

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Abby December 6, 2012 at 7:55 am

Yep, there’s definitely pressure to be overweight to fit-in. That’s totally a thing that happens… Or not. What kind of delusional world does this girl live in?

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Crabby McSlacker December 6, 2012 at 8:23 am

Charlotte, you are hilarious! “Never mix Pinterest and Pabst” and a million other great lines, plus I totally agree with you on all counts.

At the gym yesterday one of the women in a cardio pump class was wearing a very elaborate skirt and top outfit and sporting a huge ski hat. This is San Diego. Sigh.

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Jenny C. December 6, 2012 at 9:03 am

Yes, society’s overwhelming desire to be overweight is why there is a fitness gym on every block, “plus-sized” models that are a size six, and more weight-loss supplements in medicine aisles than actual medicine. I sure hope this book gives Delizia the sanctuary she needs from all the overweight people who are constantly shaming her just because she’s fit and trying to pressure her into cake.

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Nicole December 6, 2012 at 9:56 am

This is so off base I don’t even know what to say. The comment about how heavier women are automatically assumed to be “funnier..less sexually promiscuous” (I didn’t keep the page open long enough to copy the whole thing) is ridiculous. How about fat women are far less likely to portrayed in media period. How about fat women are rarely if ever seen as sexy or as love interests? How about how they are seen as lazy and slobbish (a stereotype she is promoting). Skinny is the norm.
This feels a lot like the people who start “save the white people” campaigns…(and claim it is for reasons other than outright racism). “Skinny privilege” exists, just like white privilege. If we got rid of fat-shaming and hatred, I bet there would be a whole lot less of the “eat a sandwich”comments, as people would be more comfortable with their bodies and not feel the need to defend their weight.
If you want healthy children, raising them to love their bodies is the way to go. Hopefully if they love their bodies, they will feed them well and treat them properly. And the focus really be on healthy and not skinny.
When you are fed the message that your body is disgusting and unlovable, how can you love yourself enough to treat your body well? And, forgive me Charlotte, but are people who are so uncomfortable in their own skin that they exercise constantly in fear of becoming “fat” and yet can never really escape that word, really “healthy”?
(BTW- you are very upfront about your issues and your efforts to deal with them. You have never said “you should be like me to be healthy”. But you are (partially) a result of our fat-shaming culture. And I think we need to consider mental health when we look for “healthy” people. You are super-inspiring both for your fitness exploits and your efforts to overcome your past traumas and eating/exercising disorders.You are trying really hard to be healthy. But I wouldn’t want to wish your struggles on anyone, and I don’t want children to have to hate their bodies in order to be what society considers healthy (aka skinny)).

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Susan Smith December 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

Ads for women dressed unrealistically for the gym probably contribute to some of the reason that I feel uncomfortable wearing comfortable, loose clothes to actually work out at the gym. It shouldn’t be a fashion show! And I definitely don’t need another reason to want to avoid the gym!

Also, there doesn’t need to be a group that stands up for being skinny, that group happens to already be the dominant one in society. What really needs to catch on is the idea that skinny doesn’t equal healthy, and working out should be for how you feel, not just how you look on the outside.

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Katie December 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I have to admit I’m one of the ones dressed cutely. It just makes me feel so much better to look nice while working out, though. :) I see women dressed at both ends at the gym though, and I don’t think anyone passes judgment, it’s a gym after all, and we are there to get fit, not to see and be seen.

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Quix December 6, 2012 at 10:52 am

I can assure you, as someone who was obese for about a decade and has been healthy for about 5 years – I certainly feel like I “fit in” more being healthy. I have never, ever, ever, felt the urge to gain weight to fit in.

Now I understand cases of gals who really and truly are too thin and need to gain weight and can’t or have a hard time (my ex-coworker who would eat constantly and wasn’t a workout fiend but maintained like 110 lbs and 5’10″ and she WANTED to be heavier) – but seriously? Girlfriend has some nice abs, but she is definitely FIT. Not model skinny. She doesn’t need a sanctuary of any sort besides a big cup of shut the heck up, IMO. :P

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Emily December 6, 2012 at 11:11 am

UGH, Delizia, go away. Seeing this on Jezebel yesterday took me right back to middle and high school, when the fit, mean, athletic girls bullied me and told me how fat and disgusting I was. She’s a bully, nothing more. Everything else I wanted to say was covered by Nicole, above. Even though my body now is a healthy weight and I am stronger and fitter than I have ever been, I am STILL that chubby kid inside, and will never feel like I’m thin. To paraphrase Augusten Burroughs in “This Is How”, thin is not a size or weight, it’s a deep hole of endless need, and it has nothing to do with one’s appearance. It’s the need to be accepted, to be loved, to be perfect, to be rich, to be comfortable in one’s own skin…. etc. My body might look like what some would consider thin, but inside, that gaping hole of need is still very much a thing. But I’m guessing that kind of analysis is well beyond what Delizia is going for here.

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Sam December 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm

I must be a total weirdo–I’ve never dressed up to go to the gym [or to run a race/go to practice]. I mean, I do have these snazzy Nike track spikes where the left one is green and the right one is blue, but that’s about it.

As for that ridiculous kickstarter… well, hey… many fit, respectable people both AND worked out to get their butts. It’s called consuming enough fuel to perform squats and sprints.

I think the real point is, why should we presume that people do what they do–enjoy food and exercise–just to look a certain way?

Now, I’m not saying I don’t have a superficial side, but one of the things I love about the fitness industry is its focus on measurable accomplishment, not something as subjective as a beauty standard.

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Geosomin December 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm

In the gym I’m honestly lucky if I remember all of my clothes :) I do try and have nice workout things so I feel good when I workout, but at 6 AM the need for bling is just not there :)
the qhote “if it just makes it into the hands of ONE little girl who feels like she has to be overweight to fit in with the current 70% of the overweight population of America, and it gives her the strength to know that being healthy isnt a bad thing” made me laugh…and I don’t think she meant to. I have yet to encounter this happening to anyone…ever. Yes I have friends who are naturally overly thin and get tired of the comments about how thin they are, but they’ve never felt like they need to be overweight. I know I’ll always feel chubby inside, but I am comfortable in my own skin. In the end I think that’s the real issue. Noone should be shamed. I’ve been there. It doesn’t work…

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malevolent andrea December 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Maybe tangential but…who invented padded sports bras and WHY? Somehow in the 7 weeks I was recently sidelined from the gym, one of the two functional sports bras that I own apparently decided to fall into a black hole or something (because it’s not in my house anywhere). In a moment of desperation, I bought a cheapy replacement at TJ Maxx, and it had removable pads. I was flummoxed. The whole purpose of a sports bra in my world is to smoosh my boobs as hard into my chest wall as physics will allow so those suckers won’t budge. Are there really women out there that want to compensate for that flattening effect with padding when they’re just going to be, like, deadlifting or running?

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Katie December 7, 2012 at 5:37 am

I’m a A cup and all of 5’4. I look like a 12 year old boy without padded bras, so I wear them even when working out.

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Shady December 6, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Can I just start off by saying that fit/healthy and skinny aren’t the same things. I consider myself reasonably fit but I will NEVER have abs like that (and I’m totally ok with never having abs like that). So she lost me she lost me at that oversimplification.

As for trying to hard – to me trying too hard seems like you’re doing it for someone else. And when it comes to healthy lifestyle choices making the right ones for an external reason rather than an implicit internal one are the wrong one reasons to be doing the healthy things. Ok, maybe not the wrong reasons per say but for me personally, external reasons don’t demand the same amount of commitment as when I’m trying for me.

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Jess December 7, 2012 at 7:01 am

Wow! The scary thing is that ditzy will probably make some money out of this.

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misserin December 7, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I really enjoyed reading this post. I’ve had my moments of trying to hard, and usually have regretted it. Over the years I’ve taken various Zumba licensing or training workshops. At first (going back a few years) I would feel the need to really pop! “Check out how hard I can ditch the workout and join the party!” I’ll mention right now, I am a Zumba instructor and I love the program, but the parts that get a bit “lifestyle-ish” turn me off just a bit. It took me awhile to just be me at those things, just like when I am with my own group of participants. A good skill for me to hone and one I’ve been able to transfer with me as a beginning yoga student. Sometimes I just wait for what will surely be the snapped something heard round the world.
As for the “kickstarter” proposal. When I was in my late teens and at a pre-professional level in ballet I was dangerously underweight (oh the bad choices we make when we don’t understand a better way). I would get comments thrown at me that would sting, but I tell you what, in our society being “thin” almost automatically qualifies you as someone competent regardless of whether or not you really are. I definitely agree with you about being overweight is a much more difficult obstacle to “fitting in”. Slim and attractive gives life a softer landing. I’m not saying its right or just. Perhaps the a better book might be the one about how to evolve into a caring, conscientious and enlightened person while working towards bitchin abs.
Again, great post!

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Emma W December 8, 2012 at 9:00 am

I have to admit I kind of wish you hadn’t given that girl extra publicity, and wasted your own time and words, by writing a post about her project. That may sound harsh but there are so many stupid and pointless things on the internet, and that kickstarter is one of them.

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Pam December 9, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I’m having a really hard time wrapping my head around the idea that someone thinks overweight people feel skinny people are the ones having a hard time fitting in in our society. I read this post originally on my phone a few days ago and my phone always eats my comments before they post so I didn’t bother commenting then, but I am still thinking about this and scratching my head going, “WTF.” Britton Delizia is living in some alternate reality, as far as I can tell.

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Jen September 16, 2013 at 1:21 pm

I just came across this article today and find it ridiculous and attention getting of the girl with the abs. Come on, she really hasn’t gotten enough validation? However, I do have to laugh at the real life experience I had about 2 years ago. I’m not a super skinny, but I do workout and manage to squeeze into size 4 jeans despite my love of cookies and all good thinks baked. Monday’s are the days I buy my bread at the local bakery that happens to be a large doughnut producing facility. One Monday morning, donning a pair of skinny jeans, I grabbed a doughnut along with my bread and turned around to the most disgusted look on a large ladies face. She obviously did not try to hold back her disdain for me as she spat out “What are you doing in here?!” I replied that I was getting a doughnut and some bread and tried to smile. She then verbally tore me apart for being skinny, told me I didn’t deserve the doughnut because I didn’t look like she did. I tried to be casual and said “Well, the doughnut motivates me to workout”. That put her over the top. She countered that she works out too, but doesn’t look like I do. Then she pointed to the unfortunate cashier and said “I’m sure SHE works out too, but look at HER!” Oh my. I quickly bought my things, apologized to the cashier and left. And ate my doughnut.

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