In a sweat about sweat

There are many things in life that annoy me (people who stand on the wrong side of the escalator, how single socks disappear in the washing machine, my face’s inability to stay shine-free, to name but a few…), but top of my list at the moment are photos of celebrities leaving the gym.  Anyone who occasionally (or frequently, no judgement here) glances at the Daily Mail Sidebar of Shame will know what I’m talking about.  It’s not the fact that they’re leaving the gym that grates, it’s the fact that they do so looking bloody flawless.  Michelle Keegan, Karlie Kloss, Khloe Kardashian…  There they are, waltzing out of Barry’s or Lomax or somewhere else uber-fashionable, without a sweat patch or damp sock in sight.

The caption ‘they’re just like us!’ will frequently accompany this type of photo.  Erm, if they were really ‘just like us’ they’d be leaving the gym with their sweaty hair scraped back into a bun, glugging water out of an un-branded plastic bottle that should have been thrown away about a month ago, trying to gauge precisely how many minutes it will be until they can be home and in the shower.  Because, unless you’re the kind of person who goes to the gym to sit on a cycling machine to read a magazine (don’t even get me started on this), anyone who goes to the gym will pant, sweat, strain and grimace themselves into an unholy dishevelled mess.  And this is a GOOD thing!  No one pushes themselves whilst maintaining perfect makeup.

Now, I’m not implying that these celebs go to the gym and spend an hour sitting on a Swiss ball filing their nails.  A quick glance at most Instagram accounts will show that when these women work out they do it properly, mostly with personal trainers, and they’ve got the bodies to show for it.  But I have a strong suspicion that an hour so passes between the end of the workout and the departure of the gym – plenty of time to shower, wash your hair, apply no-makeup-makeup and put on some leggings and a top that aren’t soggy and beginning to ferment.  Again, no judgement here.  I nearly always change into a fresh top and make a vague attempt to blow-dry some of the sweat off my hair before heading home, mainly to save my fellow-tube goers the experience of having to sit next to someone who is a walking advert for rehydration.  But there is no way I’m even near photo-ready.  I really wish Kim, Cheryl, Doutzen et al would just admit it with a breezy ‘hey y’all, just did a quick touch-up before facing the hordes of paparazzi outside, we are human after all’.

Sweating is normal.  Sweating is healthy.  Most things that make us sweat are normal and healthy.  The heat wave a couple of weeks ago made us realise that a) the UK is woefully inept at functional air conditioning and b) everyone sweats at some point.  I can understand how Karlie and co will make efforts to disguise any kind of bodily moisture at something like an evening event (note to self: NEVER wear grey), but when one is sweating in context, i.e. at the gym, why bother?  I’d have a hell of a lot more respect for any celebrity who posted a red-faced damp-haired no-makeup selfie along with the caption ‘couldn’t get my ass sweat in the same picture, soz #perspiration’.  If we can witness the fitness, why can’t we get the sweat too?

Guess which one is the celebrity...

Guess which one is the celebrity…


A bikini-shopping-induced meltdown

I’ve had a bit of a rant before about how current trends seem to be strongly anti-boob, or at least anti those who require a decent amount of underwiring and strap action to get any kind of lift and shape, but a recent shopping experience has prompted me to revisit the topic.

Bikini shopping is fairly traumatic at the best of times, and for those of us who are rocking anything more than a C-cup it’s downright stressful.  Those little bandeau tops that offer bugger-all in the way of support?  No thanks.  Monokinis?  Hell no.  Flimsy little triangles that barely cover your nipples?  Piss off.  I’ve recently lost a bit of weight, resulting in boob shrink-age, so rather optimistically I thought that this year’s bikini shop would be slightly easier than it has in the past.  Cue bitter retrospective laughing…

Off I went, merrily skipping along to Topshop, which it turns out is the worst place you could possibly go to buy a bikini that fits anyone other than teenagers with small breasts and large allowances.  For a brand that claims to be at the forefront of high street fashion, Topshop really doesn’t seem to have a clue how the female figure works.  There I was, confronted with a whole wall of pretty-looking bikini tops and bottoms, thinking I’d hit the beachwear jackpot, until I started looking closer at the sizing.  Instead of getting 32C, 36D, 34A etc, sizes 8, 10 and 12 glared balefully back at me from the tags.  WHAT IS A SIZE 10 BOOB??  How does that even work?  Why were there no cup sizes?!  With steely determination I grabbed a range of sizes off the racks and stomped over to the Topshop changing rooms, aka awfully-lit cubicles of hell where you’re pretty much guaranteed to develop an eating disorder.

My changing room experience went something like this:

  • Minute 1: strip down to underwear, try to avoid looking at self in mirror but fail, question whether this is one of those mirrors that adds about 6 kilos
  • Minute 2: try on Size 10 bikini top with tie back, conclude that Size 10 is too small in terms of cup size, also conclude that this is one of the worst mirrors I’ve ever encountered, consider starving for the next week
  • Minute 3: try on Size 10 bandeau bikini top, boobs have never looked worse, take the thing off so quickly that I pull a muscle in my shoulder, lots of swearing
  • Minute 4: now sweating quite a lot and really regretting this whole outing, try on Size 10 bikini top with un-adjustable back, cups definitely way too small but strap across back is too loose.  What the hell is going on?!
  • Minute 5: changing room floor now littered with rejected items, reach for Size 12 bikini top with tie back, turns out whoever designed this has no idea of how an individual breast is shaped
  • Minute 6: mutter under breath about sadistic bikini designers who are out to banish all women with anything larger than bee stings on their chests while struggling back into normal clothes
  • Minute 7: give up trying to put bikinis back on hangers, storm out of cubicle of hell, grimace at changing room assistant and flee shop

So, I’m now going to use the money that I would have spent in Topshop on counselling.  Quite frankly, I’m baffled by how such a prominent store can get something like bikini top sizes so wrong.  The ridiculousness of it was compounded when I went to H&M straight afterwards and found a whole host of bikinis in proper cup sizes.  Hooray!  Clearly the head honchos at H&M understand that breasts cannot be reduced to the even numbers of clothing; I’d like to shake their hand.

Why is the fashion industry so strongly anti-boob?  Why does each new summer trend present major problems for those of us requiring some feat of engineering to get a decent silhouette?  We’re all being encouraged to show side boob and cleavage and wear tops and dresses that are slashed to the navel, but for all of the women out there that need to strap down their fun bags so they don’t end up taking someone’s eye out, this is pretty much impossible.  Even if Kim Kardashian is doing us curvy ladies a favour by flaunting her assets and unapologetically so, she’s taking some of that away by frequently going bra-less and proving that her lady lumps defy gravity.  So what are the rest of us meant to do?  Get uplift surgery?  I’ll start saving now…