Week 28: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today

24 Feb




I went to my first proper antenatal class today, a new effort they’re putting on at our gym. I came away feeling quite overwhelmed a. by the lack of care and professionalism of the instructors and (more shocking) b. how much the ladies in the class just put up with it.

We sat downstairs afterwards to fill out their market research survey nonsense thing, and as I scribbled an essay on the mistakes they’d made and how potentially damaging both physically and psychologically they might be for participants, I could hear the women who’d taken part in the class smiling and being nice about how much they’d enjoyed the class and not saying a word of anything. And I’d watched these women in the class, and I’d seen them struggling (swear to god this is not just me going on a rant – it really was badly done, almost scarily so).

My friend and I spoke to one lady afterwards and she was talking about how she’d rushed back to three classes a week post-natal after her third baby and, confidentially, I mean she was embarrassed about this, she felt she was struggling with those full-on, high impact classes and that she “wasn’t up to it anymore”. After we spoke a bit more it turned out she’d become so demotivated she’d actually not been to the gym at all for two weeks and she felt that all this was her fault. That a lack of ability to snap back to it after having her third baby was her failing, rather than something that might need a more structured approach, and then giving up was her failing times ten. And it’s all, to me, a part of the same disease. This beating ourselves up. Why did nobody take this lady to one side and ask her how she was doing? No, they just take her money and there’s no duty of care. And then she comes to a specifically antenatal class and gets the same “get on with it” attitude. I’m not surprised if she felt shit, and that there was nobody on her side. I definitely would have.

All the women in that class today were apprehensive, to some degree, about what to expect. And yet we were given no support, no reassurance, no options, we were just ploughed through the class irrespective of our individual needs. And we blamed ourselves for not keeping up. I’m a fitness instructor, and even I felt frustrated by my own limitations. People coming back to exercise after having a baby (or for whatever reason) or who have a challenging condition that limits them physically are vulnerable people and need care and support.  That goes for pregnant people, and sometimes, just people. We don’t need patronising or mollycoddling, we just need treating like human beings instead of fee-paying cattle. Does anyone blame the gym or the class? Rarely, they’re more likely to blame their own lack of stamina and willpower, which feeds the guilt cycle.

Anyway. My point (aside from that chain gyms suck the big one) is that I’m starting to wonder if becoming a mother means entering into a world of guilt and anxiety and women judging themselves and others and….ugh, all the things that make being a woman a bit shite anyway but  x 10 because you have all this new massive shit to deal with, and you’re expected to just carry on as normal and make it look effortless. All the while having the decisions you make being put up for public scrutiny and judgement, as if it wasn’t enough dealing with that self-critical voice in your own head anyway.

It worries me, but it also angers me. I feel like I want to do something about this.

If you haven’t read this by Anna, then you should. If somebody that lovely and talented and hard working can feel this way, then there is no hope for the rest of us.

(note: and just so I don’t completely ignore my record of the week, this album is a modern classic and that is that)


3 Responses to “Week 28: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today”

  1. Anna February 25, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    hey you… people have been popping over, thank you for the link and lovely words!

    I was trying to write in defence of other people but it came out a bit defensive of myself which wasn’t my intention. I feel like compassion is something we are generally lacking in society these days. Those people at the gym and just everyone in general needs to take a damn time out and remember we are all imperfect but we’re mostly trying our best. A little bit of kindness and empathy goes a bloody long way.

  2. Siobhan March 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    I am so pissed off with this on your behalf and those women and about the whole sorry shitshow. We need to support each other and not judge and not judge ourselves. I keep coming back to that we have to be our won best friends and treat ourselves with the care and compassion we would treat them. And try to treat others with that too, and basically I keep hoping that if enough of us do that we could start a revolution, probably not?, but I keep hoping and keep trying. We just need to keep fighting the good fight and keep on keeping on. You rock.

    • tokaipenny March 3, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

      You are absolutely right and I don’t know how it is that we lose sight of this as women. Is it because we are expected, as either, to put our families before ourselves? I have a real fear of being thought of as selfish, and it’s so easy to go so far in the other direction and end up being a martyr. What are we compensating for? It frustrates and confuses me. Thanks for your comment S, insightful as always!


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