Ugly Sweat

August 21, 2019


If I highlighted every noteworthy sentence in Jia Tolentino’s new book Trick Mirror, my copy would appear suspiciously radioactive.

But her thoughts on feminized athleticism, or “appearance-centric activities in which you are required to hide your effort and pain,” begged for additional underlines and furious exclamation points as if she were writing to me. 

What Jia's describing is Ugly Sweat: a not-too-distant cousin of the Ugly Cry (although far less sanctioned for its decidedly less memeable nature) when you grunt, gnash and grit your teeth while sweating through painful physical activity. 

Most women rarely, if ever, ugly sweat, and I was reminded of a remark my sister made when she recommended I watch the fabulous Natacha Oceane for exercise motivation: “She’s great, and she’s not afraid to make noises.”

The comment struck me then as Jia’s did now because of it’s WTF annoying realness: why do so many women - myself included - feel compelled to repress their inner beast as if it negates their outer beauty?

So here’s the T…

The sexism of sweat is nothing new and clearly multilayered, but like my fitspo inspo Natacha, I’m giving in to the audible release of the physical one that demands it.

Besides, like ugly crying, ugly sweating is a sign of a deep, carnal release; a cleansing of sorts. 

And sweating or not, we all know That’s Hot.

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