Thursday, March 27, 2008

Because marriage is like military service?

It is soooo obvious which women in the gym are brides-to-be. They are the ones logging many miles on the treadmill, counting hundreds of crunches on physio balls, and lifting teeny tiny weights in an effort to tone (but not build--god forbid--bulk) shoulders (for those going strapless), upper back (for those going backless), and pecs (for those going for the plunging necklines). And all the while sporting those very large diamonds that are so popular these days.
And while some of these women are doing it on their own many get help in various forms such as trainers, or the many, many websites out there dedicated to getting women to their desired shape for one day.
And now, according to today's Boston Globe, gyms are offering special packages for brides-to-be. Total Performance Sports in eastern Massachusetts has a Bridal Survival Fit Camp. The gym may call it "fit camp" but the article (including the photo caption which reads: "future brides and members of wedding parties endure grueling physical training to look their best"--emphasis added) refers to the program as a boot camp and the descriptions of it sound very boot camp-esque. A version of the program in NYC has participants actually dressed in fatigues.
It's just so ridiculous. The rhetoric makes me cringe.
The class is exhausting. The trainers, merciless. But all that matters is the goal.
"I'm wearing a strapless wedding dress," said Monkiewicz, an associate marketing manager at Kayem Foods Inc. in Chelsea. "I need nice collarbones and arms."

[Also thought it was interesting that one of the above mentioned merciless trainers started the sessions saying "you guys aren't going to like me much today." I'm sorry where are these guys he's talking to? ]
The article notes the boot camp fitness programs are quite popular right now. You see it on television on shows like The Biggest Loser and Celebrity Fit Camp but it's a little bit troubling that exercise has been tied unproblematically to the military especially given the perversion of the purpose as evidenced by the above bride's self-described motivation:
"Do you want to look good this summer?" roared Rago, the trainer.
It was just the motivation she needed. "South Beach, baby!" Monkiewicz responded. "I'm going to South Beach for my bachelorette party. I can't stop now."

[Note all the privilege. No mention of how much they cost but gym memberships are pricey these days as are the services of personal trainers and of course holding a destination bachelorette party...]
Boot camps--the real things--are not for looking to achieve svelte and gorgeous on your big day. I don't think the enemy really cares how buff you look in camouflage. Also, what does it say that we are invoking militaristic techniques--both physical and mental--as an allegedly effective approach to fitness and exercise?
I was going to end with something cynical about how we need classes to prepare people for the battles and conflicts that will come after "the big day"--you know, when the no-longer brides stop going to wedding fit camp and the effects this may have on their marriage. But I won't do that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Appreciate your writing on this topic Ken. The militarization of fitness is completely problematic and in this case, to serve the wedding look is a scary blend of gender role and nationalism. Where can women best serve their country? Why in the domestic sphere of course! And how to be your best to serve the country? Military training of course! Military matrimony and the aesthetics of both highlight the still dominant ordering (though less explicit ordering) of our gendered world - coming together in new forms it seems - but still the patriarchy marches boldly forward (and to the tune of here comes the bride...)