Sexy vs. Skinny

Going to the gym wasn’t a New Year’s resolution. It was a Jan. 3 resolution. The first few days of January are the grim vortex of winter break. I’d already spent over a week as a blob, but school was too far away to inspire productivity. The outdoor nippiness was no longer the subject of festive carols, but rather bitter whimpering. Eggnog was once again a socially unacceptable beverage.

I spent these days alone in my parents’ temporary and very sad New York apartment, the kitchen stocked with nothing but three tubs of deluxe mixed nuts. I spent three hungover days watching “E! True Hollywood Story” and snacking on salted cashews in a makeshift fort. When I started doing lunges during the commercial breaks of Tori Spelling’s life, I knew I needed a boost of physical activity.

Look at Tori Spelling, I thought. How was I going to get my father to give me a part on an iconic teen drama, star in a reality show and write a memoir about growing up with an incredibly powerful producer father/getting my own reality show if I couldn’t even get up out of my self-made fort?

So I went to the gym. I discovered that “Wife Swap” is a great show to watch on the treadmill. The people on “Wife Swap” were definitely in more pain than me. Watching a teen goth debase herself clog dancing was an IV of self-esteem hooked up through headphones. It’s also great to work out in the middle of the day, when the gym feels more like a geriatric ward than a toned and sweaty singles club. Your personal trainer is giving you a massage, Mrs. Finkelstein? Yeah, like, how many calories is THAT burning.

So when I got back to Yale I decided to continue my new exercise regime. Since Payne Whitney is the biggest gym in the world now (after that mysteriously bigger gym in Russia mysteriously burned down), I thought it would be a waste to have spent my entire Yale career afraid of it.

The Payne Whitney gym is nothing like my New York gym. All the free weights under 10 pounds are candy colored, so that daintily bicep-ed females can match their exercise equipment to their iPod Shuffles. Also all the TVs are playing “Sports Center,” which lacks all of the life-affirming qualities of “Wife Swap.” It just reminded me that there are people who exercise all the time and really like it.

It was a grotesque pageant of bicycle shorts, sports bras and bobbing ponytails. I do not own a sports bra. In fact, on a run last week my underwire chafed so severely I now have a tiny scab between my breasts. You could say it’s close to my heart, a three-to-five-day reminder of my endurance, sacrifice and the painful cost of beauty. But really it’s not that close, because it’s directly between my breasts. This, however, is not the most disturbing thing about my recent gym experiences.

On both occasions I have visited Payne Whitney, there have been a few underfed bodies feverishly pounding on the ellipticals, reading celebrity weight loss tips and recipes for creamed potato gratin smothered in béchamel sauce. This immediately aroused my anorexia radar, finely tuned at my all-girls high school. Reading recipes is a handy way for the self-starver to eat vicariously through her eyes. Cooking decadent foods that you won’t eat is another common strategy. Fat is relative, so the more calories other people consume the thinner you become!

Girls who pedal too furiously toward magazine sexy risk desexing themselves. Loss of libido is one of the many symptoms of being underweight. 29 percent of women worry about their bodies every waking moment. Roughly the same number have never had an orgasm. We have an entire science of dieting and a $30 billion weight loss industry, but no idea if the G-spot exists and no funding to figure it out.

The Journal of Sexual Medicine just published a study on the subject, which concluded that no one knows whether the G-spot is real. The study’s rigorous methodology: to ask women whether or not they had a G-spot. Some women who had orgasmed from sex said they did, while others said they didn’t. Some who had never orgasmed from sex said they did, while others said they didn’t. Even pairs of identical twins disagreed about their identical vaginas.

Most girls have every inch of their bodies memorized: every contour, patch of cellulite, and the rolls that emerge at any potential angle. Yet we don’t know whether or not there’s an area a third up the front wall of our vagina that can allegedly give us mind-blowing pleasure.

We can burn major calories to reach physical “perfection.” But to burn with orgasmic passion, we need some of those calories, preferably the good kinds found in beans, legumes and tubs of deluxe mixed nuts. These calories are not good however, physically, mentally and definitely not sexually, when consumed alone in a fort.

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