Ah, That Girl Who Wears Makeup to the Gym. Is there any easier target when one is looking for someone to mock? “Why would anyone wear makeup to the gym?” people sneer. “You’re not there to impress anyone and you’re just going to sweat it off anyway. At least if you care about your workout.”
Well, as someone who has worn makeup to the gym in a few different situations, let me explain why people shouldn’t be so quick to judge.
Sometimes women don’t put on makeup because we are going to the gym; we simply show up to the gym wearing makeup. During a lunchtime workout, after work, or after I’ve been doing weekend activities that I’ve chosen to wear makeup for, yeah…I’m going to show up to the gym with makeup on. The judgy people in a spin class may assume I put it on just for the hot instructor, but the fact is, I didn’t. As a matter of fact, I feel a little self-conscious when I wipe my sweat and makeup appears all over my white towel. It’s just kind of gross. And from
a skincare point of view, sweating through your foundation isn’t great. A lot of times, I’ll keep makeup remover wipes in my gym bag to remove a layer of makeup before I start my workout.
Sure, I might be wearing mascara, but it’s very likely going to be running down my face by the end of the class — does that really seem like something I’m going to do if I want to look good for everyone else?
Wearing makeup doesn’t mean that you aren’t interested in a “real” workout. One of the arguments against wearing makeup to the gym is that no woman would apply makeup if she planned to get a “real” workout. While it does seem kind of silly to put on a full face of makeup
only to leave it in a puddle on the gym floor 30 minutes later, there are plenty of workouts that don’t leave you drenched. Assuming someone who wears makeup isn’t there for a “real” workout is obnoxious. Sometimes when I’m strength training, I don’t sweat a whole lot. That doesn’t mean I’m not working hard. It means that while I work hard, I’m going to be staring at myself in the mirror for 45 minutes, and I don’t want to deal with the reality of my dark undereye circles when I should be focusing on my awesome biceps.
There is more to the gym than just working out. Some people want their gyms to be very down-and-dirty, and that’s totally fine. But one has to acknowledge that there are plenty of people who just love working out and spend enough time there that it becomes a part of their social life too. They go to a class and then go out for brunch. They make new friends. They flirt. And they want to look their best while they do it. It doesn’t mean that they only go to the gym to do that; it means that for some workouts, they are less excited about the cardio than the conversations. And if you want to look a little bit more awake or alert during those kinds of workouts, so what? When I’m going to the gym with friends or to be social, I don’t wear a full face of makeup, but I put my hair in a cute ponytail and dab on concealer and mascara (though
I let the workout add color to my face). That doesn’t mean I’m using the gym wrong; it just means that not everyone uses the gym the same way every time. As long as the desire to wear makeup doesn’t keep people from going to the gym (“OMG I have no time to work out in the
mornings! By the time I get up and do my makeup, there’s not enough time for a pilates class! And I can’t skip makeup because I’m so ugly!”), it seems harmless enough.
While I get why the idea of women wearing makeup to the gym often elicits an eye-roll, I also feel like it’s just one more way women are judged. I don’t see wearing makeup to the gym as so different from wearing flattering workout clothes. Yes, I could work out in baggy T-shirts, but feeling like I look good while I’m working out is incredibly motivating. Sure it’s a little shallow, but if that’s what it takes to get more people doing good things for their health, I’m all for it. We live in a very unhealthy country; as long as it’s not hurting anyone, I’m OK with taking motivation wherever we can get it.