Women Fighting Back Against 'Sweat Shaming' Double Standard

October 2nd 2015

There are a lot of societal expectations of women: wear makeup and heels, don't swear, be nurturing... the list goes on. Writer Amy Roe recently learned of another thing women should avoid to maintain their ladylike presence: sweat.

In a new article for the Guardian, Roe explains that she experienced "sweat shaming" after waiting in line at Starbucks following a 12-mile run. A "well-dressed woman" couldn't stop staring at Roe and prodded her with questions about why she was so sweaty: had Roe just gotten out of an exercise class? Had she been swimming? This embarrassed Roe, who scurried over to her car in shame.

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With her piece, Roe started a conversation about the double standards surrounding male sweat, which is often praised and seen as masculine, versus female sweat, which many view as "gross." Roe experienced some backlash for her argument though, as several people said she was making a big deal out of a short encounter with a stranger:

Speaking to the Washington Post, Roe said that she is aware that some people might think she was overreacting but that subtle digs can still do a lot of harm.

“Maybe I’m hypersensitive,” Roe said. “But I kind of feel like there’s nuances in how people communicate. I feel like I’m a good reader and judge of intentions.”

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In her article, Roe points out that the phrase "sweating like a pig" has a negative connotation and that it can make people feel "fat, dirty, [and] uncivilized" for sweating as human beings are supposed to do.

"Nobody wants to fall into this category, so we attempt to conceal our perspiration – something I’d tried but failed to do at Starbucks," she wrote.

While she dislikes the pressure on women not to sweat, Roe concludes that the feeling she has after running is empowering nonetheless.

"The stigmas surrounding women’s bodies are powerful, but they’re no match for how powerful I feel after running," she wrote.

Roe is not the only writer to expose the double standard of female sweating. Last month, Elizabeth Kennedy wrote a piece for The Glow about the awful experience of getting sweat-shamed in a hot yoga class, which is intended to make participants sweat profusely.

"Are [women] not allowed to sweat anymore?" she wrote. "While men are idolised and salivated over in every spritzed photograph, I have never seen an advertisement with women jogging where at any point she is even the slightest bit shiny. I have never seen any female instafitness guru or flogger (fitness blogger) actually break a sweat in any of their pictures or videos."

Female antiperspirant and deodorant commercials can also enforce stereotypes about women and sweating by selling completely dry products:

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