Just like belching, gaining weight, and discussing sex, it seems as if sweating is the newest thing that society does not allow American women to do.
According to the Washington Post, a Seattle woman recently spoke out about a recent incident she had at a coffee shop after a 12-mile run, and her experience seems to be indicative of a growing trend of sweat-shaming across the country.
Amy Roe, a 42-year-old author and marathon runner, says that she completed her lengthy run and headed to a local Starbucks for some coffee. Upon seeing Roe covered in sweat, another woman gave her a disapproving look, asking her if she “just did a class,” or was “swimming.”
While Roe realizes this experience in itself isn’t exactly egregious, she immediately felt shame as a result of the incident and realized it spoke to a broader issue among Americans. Sweat-shaming is real, and Roe decided to voice her thoughts on the issue in an article.
“Sweat-shaming is when someone points out your sweatiness as a way to signal disapproval,” she wrote. “Like its counterparts, slut-shaming and fat-shaming, sweat-shaming is aimed mainly at women, who are actually not supposed to sweat at all.”
Roe’s opinions were echoed by several journalists prior to when she began writing about sweat-shaming.
“Are woman not allowed to sweat anymore?” Elizabeth Kennedy wrote in Australia’s The Glow last month. “Were we ever? While men are idolised and salivated over in every spritzed photograph, I have never seen an advertisement with women jogging where at any point she is even the slightest bit shiny.”
People like Roe who aim to bring awareness to the issue reference a disturbing trend among women in Hollywood who receive Botox treatments in their forehead and other areas of the body to quell excessive sweating.
Botox is typically used by celebrities to treat “severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis” — or underarm sweating.
According to SweatHelp.org, nearly eight million Americans suffer from hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, among 28 million with the condition around the world. The overwhelming majority (90%) of hyperhidrosis patients report that it affects their emotional state, adding that they often feel less confident as a result of their condition.
Opponents of Roe’s theory that sweat-shaming is a real problem say that men are privy to the same embarrassment as women when it comes to perspiration. Katherine Timpf of the National Review thinks that Roe is making a big stink over nothing.
“Now, this is pretty interesting, because I myself can remember quite a few times that I’ve made fun of dudes for being sweaty,” Timpf wrote. “And I remember that everyone from Donald Trump to cable-news pundits was discussing how much Marco Rubio was sweating after the last GOP debate. Come to think of it, I also just remembered that men’s deodorant exists, and that that just might mean that sweating freely is probably not encouraged for anyone of any gender.”
Regardless of one’s stance on the issue, it’s hard to argue that women aren’t generally held to a higher standard when it comes to staying dry. It seems as if sweat-shaming is just another topic for people to argue over on blogs, with no solution in sight.