For almost a year now, I have been cultivating a love/hate relationship with Jillian Michaels. She’s gorgeous, and her workouts make my body hurt in the most delightful way. My envy of her tiny thighs and concave belly have enabled me to tolerate some of the drivel that spews forth incessantly from the well-glossed hole between her attractively sunken cheeks.
I read somewhere once on the magical interwebs that she is merely an actress who is given a script that tells her how to tell people how to workout. The story said she had no real knowledge of exercise science or even basic anatomy. Doing her videos, I am sometimes able to find support for this claim — she turns her head the wrong way during stretches sometimes, and (perhaps the production quality is to be blamed for this) I’ve seen her skip entire sets — we never do the left side of those stinkin’ rows, Bitch!
I have been tolerating her inability to count and her lengthy motivational speeches (even when they force me to continue doing squat thrusts past the predetermined stopping point) because I am seeing results. I hate her more than ever during those undocumented seconds when she’s telling me that, “Transformation is a present activity,” and I am drenched in my own fluids and contemplating calling 911. Despite this, I have come to appreciate some of what she’s saying (even though she often chooses to say it when the set at hand should have ended already and I am nearly dead). Like beer or sautéed onions, I have acquired a taste for her.
But the other day Jillian said something that kinda makes me wanna punch her in the face (not in the rock hard abs — my fists aren’t that strong). While I lay on the floor, thrusting my legs in the air and bringing them back down to the floor at even intervals, sweat pooling in a small, salty sea around me, the lovely ladies of Thirty Day Shred smiling down at me from the TV, Jillian pissed me off. No, for reals. Her toes pointed towards the top edge of my TV screen, slightly to the left of the center of her body, engaging her obliques, she said, “The obliques are those really cool V-muscles in your lower abs. Usually only men get these, but we girls can get them, too, with a little bit of work… maybe a lot of work.”
Really, Jillian? We girls? Now, I am not much of a feminist, but this kinda bugs the bejeebers out of me, and I am shocked that such a strong WOMAN would lump herself in with “girls” especially when she’s using the word to directly compare females to “men.” In fact, it is this comparison specifically that unnerves me. If she were just talking about her “girls,” as she often does, it wouldn’t even be a blip on my radar. Using the words, “Men” and “Girls,” to describe supposed equals is disturbing. Perhaps this further gets under my (taught, muscle-stuffed) skin because I have actually done one of Jillian’s workouts with a MALE personal trainer, and it kicked his sorry, muscle-bound ass. Seriously. He was huffing and puffing to keep up with the girls — Jillian and me.
Her statement annoys me in the way the old Secret deodorant ads used to: “Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.” I fully get that men and women are different — they have different anatomies, different hormones, different ways they’d totally get with Jillian if given the chance (assuming she’d shut her trap for a minute), but why make what a woman needs or wants or can build muscularly dependent on a man? Presuming that a woman might need something “strong enough for a man” or “usually only gotten by men,” keeps women in the paradigm where they are still being compared to men, trying to live up to men, failing to be as good or as strong or as macho as men. Fuck that. And I certainly don’t want to be compared to men (whom I, more often than not, see sporting beer bellies rather than six-packs) when I am sweating my guts out, my own six pack peeking out from beneath my ribs.
Hey, Jillian, referring to us as “girls” and telling us that we might someday achieve what usually is only possible for men undermines the beautiful example of a strong, female roll model I want to see in you. I have laminated pictures of you adhered to my fridge with magnets. This doesn’t mean I am a crazy stalker (mostly); it means I have mad respect for you and the hard work you have done to mold your body. Don’t undermine it by belittling the hard work I am doing to mold mine. Don’t pull that shit, Jill. I will put up with your failure to count reps, your doofy fart jokes and your unconvincing scowl, but don’t call me a girl and then compare me to men. That just perpetuates myths that I would like to think died a long time ago. ’K, Jill?