Written by Ashley Dier | Academy of Lions Media Team | Toronto
Sweat shaming, is it really a thing? By now we've all seen the article, woman walks into a Starbucks after a run, is made to feel uncomfortable because of her sweat, goes home writes about her experience and how she feels she was sweat shamed, article goes viral. People react - some in support, some against, claiming the female author to be "too emotional" (typical).
Like every other human being on the planet, I sweat ... sometimes a lot. The second my body starts moving (and sometimes when it's not) I'm sweating. Those people who can finish a workout fresh-faced, hair dry, I'm not one of those people and for the longest time I wasn't ok with that. My workout/run sweat embarrassed me, I felt like sweating wasn't feminine and it made me incredibly insecure when I did. (big thanks to the media and to years of ridiculous gender ideals being unwillingly forced upon me). I remember being mortified leaving the gym thinking "what if people see me like this?" I'm not sure when my script flipped, but it did and I began to embrace sweat.
Why DO we sweat? Sweat is actually our bodies way it prevents itself from overheating. "Sweat is a byproduct that occurs when the body heats up to convert chemical (glucose) energy to work (muscle) energy. Sweat helps keep body temperature between 98 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit no matter how intense the workout." (Sweat During Exercise is Good for Your Health - The Toronto Star, August 2015) When sweat appears on our skin, it evaporates and cools us down, it's our bodies natural air conditioning! But why the negative vibes towards it, why the shaming?
Studies have found that the more fit you are the faster your brain is able to trigger sweat production and at lower temperatures, anticipating what's to come. Keeping your body temperature lower allows you to work out harder for longer periods of time without as many adverse effects. We can literally condition our bodies to sweat and there is no shame in that.
At some point I went from being embarrassed over my workout sweat to embracing, it became a "yeah I just worked my ass off" declaration. Where did the embarrassment stemmed from? Watch any deodorant ad and you’ll be made to feel like your bodies natural conversion of chemical energy to work energy is a BAD THING, especially as a women...it’s ridiculous. Now place those ads in front of an impressionable teenage, there's where the sweat embarrassment stems from.
Sweating is a natural bodily function, and it's an important one. If we didn't sweat we'd overheat and probably die. In some cases the more you sweat the more fit you are...take THAT Starbucks customer! As for sweat shaming, if it does exist and you do it… just stop. Infact stop shaming everything it’s a bad vibe and makes you look like a TOTAL asshole.
Men AND women: embrace sweat like you embrace a hard workout, head on. Think of sweat a little badges of honour, I know I do.