I confess at the risk of be annoying, I’m going to bring up running one more time. When my brother and I were standing around as our half-marathon was about to begin, we were shoulder to shoulder in a pretty tight crush of 3,500 people waiting for the starting gun. In these tight quarters, I noticed at least half the runners and probably more were women.
One female runner walked past me wearing what I presumed would be the same amount of makeup she’d put on to go to work or out to dinner. I turned to my brother to say, “With all the pre-race preparations we had to do, I’m glad we didn’t have to worry about putting on makeup.” The words stopped in my throat, though, because I noticed there were at least four more women in earshot wearing makeup. My comment wasn’t going to be said with the intent of being snarky, but anybody who heard it couldn’t have been blamed for thinking that was the case.
I confess this was puzzling to me and I’ve been disappointed the women I’ve spoken with about it are as vexed, too, and are left to make the same guesses about the reasoning as me. Is this a case of heightened vanity or is this women responding to the unfair pressure on them to always look good no matter what they’re doing? I suppose it could be viewed as a sort of confidence. Not only are they going to finish this race, they’re going to look good in their post-race photos. Of course, running for two hours tends to wreak havoc on someone’s makeup so they run the risk of the double whammy: “Oh my God, look how vain she is” AND her “friends” saying she looks like hell in her post-race photos on Facebook.
I confess a big reason I’m obsessing over this is I’m afraid there is a perfectly good explanation that doesn’t involve women being overly vain or victims of societal pressures and I’m just overlooking it.