My maternity leave from work officially begins on Monday, so it’s only fitting that I also start maternity leave from the blog now. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve started to understand why mat leave is a thing, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have a fairly generous policy at work: things do get exhausting as you grow bigger, especially now that it’s also hot. I also find it harder to focus, and pregnancy forgetfulness is definitely real for me.
Taking a break now feels right. I’m not due for another few weeks, but I’m going to start focussing on getting everything ready for our new arrival.
I won’t return to work until February next year, but I hope to be back to blogging earlier than that! I’ll definitely keep you posted on how things go once I can go back to exercising after the birth.
Everyone is looking for at home workouts. This barely pre-pandemic post on the NYT 6 minute workout is often in our top 10 during these pandemic months. It’s appreciated, Catherine! I think you knew something was coming. This month it was number 8.
Tracy and I often joke about all the things we have in common. We’re both immigrants to Canada who came here with our parents when we were young. We’re very close to the same age. We both have American PhDs. We wrote disserations in ethics. We started our careers in the Philosophy Department at Western in the early 90s. And we’ve had a multi-decade friendship and conversation about body image and physical fitness in our lives and the lives of women more generally. Then there’s the “fittest by fifty challenge,” this blog, and our book.
“[Fit at Mid-Life] reinforces the message that fitness can and should be for everyone, no matter their age, size, gender, or ability.” ––SELF
What if you could be fitter now than you were in your twenties? And what if you could achieve it while feeling more comfortable and confident in your body?
Here’s what we looked like when our book was published. Promotional photos are from the Amazon site. Thanks Ruth! (Ruthless Images)
Now we’re aging and going grey together. Tracy first! See Tracy enters the grey zone. Tracy’s move to grey/silver was deliberate and planned and involved hair salons. Mine was accidental and a result of COVID-19.
I love Tracy’s silver hair and think it looks beautiful. I confess that silver envy is part of my motivation but I am not sure mine will look as good.
Luckily Sarah owns clippers and has been tidying up my undercut as it grows. Here’s my latest bikes and boats haircut. Gradually there’s less and less blonde and more and more of my hair’s natural colour.
But the thing is I never was someone who coloured her hair to cover grey. Here’s 80s me with a similar haircut and colour scheme. In wilder times it was also pink and purple. I’ve also never coloured the undercut bits and hiding my age was never part of my intention. I’ve always thought of hair colour as fun. I like tattoos rather than jewelry because they can’t get lost. And hair colour rather than make up because you don’t have to put it on and take it off each day.
Here am in, in my 50s, in an administrative role as an academic, frequently sitting around tables with men in suits and women in dresses, almost of the women my age with blonde streaked hair. It’s ubiquitous.
I know why we do it. It’s easy. Highlights aren’t that expensive. The blonde is easier on your complexion. It’s closer to the lighter colour your hair is naturally turning. It’s forgiving in terms of growing in. It’s flattering.
But what if it no longer feels fun? It looks (except for my secret graying undercut) mainstream. What if it starts to feel mandatory?
Blondness is also complicated.
Apparently just 2 percent of adult white women in North America are blonde naturally. You wouldn’t guess that looking around campus or at the mall.
I hadn’t thought of blondness as connected to normative identities and whiteness until I read this article, The Pursuit of Blondness.
“Blondness, then, exists as a complicated form of self-expression. It can signal youth, beauty, privilege, and conformity. But it can also represent rebellion, independence, and the demand to be looked at and respected. It’s a choice that’s both distinctly personal and deeply intertwined with what society has taught people to value. Rankine and Lucas have a term for that: complicit freedom.“
Anyway, I’m growing it out because of #PandemicHair. Maybe I’ll keep it its natural colour. Maybe I’ll revert to blonde. It’s easy to do. It’s shockingly more dark than I remembered!
Cheddar, by the way, is a completely natural blonde.
What are you doing with your hair colour during the pandemic? Any post pandemic hair colour plans?
“As mechanical engineers who consult on heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, we’ve been closely following the evolving body of knowledge about how the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus (the virus which causes COVID-19) spreads through the air. We thought some folks might be interested to know some of what we’ve learned, and how that’s affecting our thoughts on returning to the gym.”
Cara and Sarah are guest bloggers, fit feminists, and mechanical engineers thinking about when it’s safe to go back to the gym. This was the most read post of the month by a long shot.
Cate interviews Dr. Michael Gardam, an infectious disease specialist and Chief of Staff at Humber River Hospital in Toronto, and a frequent voice on CBC and Global TV to make sense of some of the tangled messaging about COVID-19 and outdoor exercise.
Cate puts on her social scientist hat and listens to the bloggers talk about going back to the gym.
“In most of Canada, gyms aren’t open yet, but clearly, they have their feet in the blocks waiting for the starter pistol. It’s understandable — fitness studios depend on class and member revenue to survive, and most have hefty investments in space and equipment. We had an animated conversation about this among the bloggers about our own comfort, and realized that most gym managers/ owners are not likely to err on the side of caution — they want to open, and as soon as they are permitted, they will be looking to their members to tell them what will work for them. So what DO we feel safe doing? I captured the key themes from a few of our bloggers.”
Susan reminds us that it’s okay not to be okay with all of this.
“You weren’t built for this and you don’t have to say it’s okay, or good enough, or the same, or tolerable. Day after day, your nervous system seeks and searches and wonders when it can dare to be soothed, when it is allowed to declare a need to just be with, without being accused of. . .something. . .bad. It doesn’t understand and that’s okay, you weren’t built for this.”
Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna biked to work in a dress, posted a pic on Twitter for Bike to Work Day, lots of people hated it, but feminists and cyclists of Twitter came to the rescue. Sam chimed in and also blogged about it.
This #BikeToWorkDay, let's continue to promote cycling and other forms of active transportation for smarter, and cleaner communities. 🚴🏻♀️🚴🏿♂️🚴
But number two is when the Covid-19 posts begin, with Cate wondering about a feminist response to the pandemic. (Was it even a pandemic then? I don’t remember. It’s all a blur.) Is there a feminist response to Covid19?
A study showed that walking lots won’t help first year university students lose weight. Walking lots did help them with stress and emotional well-being. Guess which thing got reported about? Sam was not happy but also not surprised.
Sam’s 2013 (!) post made it into the top ten by attracting a bunch of guys from a sub-reddit who were discussing sexual satisfaction and women who spend too much (?) time riding horses. (Their comments here prompted us deciding to turn off comments on old posts.)
And then someone suggested I write about it for The Conversation. Thanks Sandy!
What’s The Conversation? Their tagline is, Academic rigour, journalistic flair. Which I like. I started as a journalist and then went back to school and completed a PhD.
Here’s what they say about themselves: “The Conversation Canada launched in June 2017. The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public. Our team of professional editors work with experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public. Access to independent, high-quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to allow for better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversations.”
Here’s what I wrote for The Conversation, written in English and they translated it into French:
She likes being in the same article with J. Lo and Shakira. Turns out Selene Yaeger was a late starter in endurance sports.
I love our blog community and our Facebook page and our growing group of Twitter friends, but sometimes it’s nice to reach out and meet some new people and connect with them about feminist fitness themes. Thanks to The Conversation!