Real racism is hard to find in America today, at least coming from actual white people, and so as far as the race-obsessed establishment media is concerned, it has to be invented. It was thus grimly inevitable that an article touting “the white supremacist origins of exercise” would be published, and not by a parody site, either. The article, the full title of which is “The White Supremacist Origins of Exercise, and 6 Other Surprising Facts About the History of U.S. Physical Fitness,” was published in Time Magazine on Wednesday. No, I am not kidding.
Time’s Olivia Waxman even leads off her ridiculous article by assuming her premise, writing: “How did U.S. exercise trends go from reinforcing white supremacy to celebrating Richard Simmons?” Now wait a minute. Since when did exercise trends ever reinforce “white supremacy”? Breezing by that question, Waxman goes on to explain that this crazy and divisive notion comes not from Lizzo, but from “a new book by a historian of exercise, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, author of the book Fit Nation: The Gains and Pains of America’s Exercise Obsession, out Jan. 2023.”
Whatever the other merits of Mehlman Petrzela’s book may be, it’s certainly timely. ‘Tis the season to call everything racist, including such quintessentially American things as the World Series, the Gadsden “Don’t Tread On Me” flag, and the very word “American” itself. Since we have already reached the outer limits of absurdity in calling everything racist, why shouldn’t exercise be subjected to the same treatment? What on earth would stop the prevailing madness that has overtaken virtually everything else from enveloping the idea of keeping fit? Maybe the biggest question that Natalia Mehlman Petrzela needs to answer is “What took you so long?”
Instead, however, she (gosh, I’m sorry to assume her gender) explains that Americans (gosh, I’m sorry to use a racist term) didn’t always have an eye on the scale and a plan to hit the gym: “One of the things I set out to do in this book is to look at the change in how we think about our bodies and what’s considered attractive. Until the 1920s or so, to be what would be considered today fat or bigger, was actually desirable and actually signified affluence—which is like the polar opposite of today, when so much of the obesity epidemic discourse is connected to socio-economic inequality and to be fat is often to be seen as to be poor.” In reality, the fattest man in the world in 1890 would be, as a Twitter wag quipped, “the 3rd fattest guy at the local Walmart,” but it’s clear where Mehlman Petrzela is going with all this: “to be fat is often seen as to be poor,” and racial minorities are often poor, ergo, exercise is racist.
But back in the good old days (of Jim Crow America, but Mehlman Petrzela doesn’t mention that), “to be fat showed that you could afford these things that were out of the reach of most people and also you could afford to rest, like you weren’t out there doing manual labor all day. As that caloric food became more accessible, and as more people were doing sedentary white-collar work and had access to cars and leisure, somebody who could resist those caloric foods, exercise, and have a thin body, was seen as more desirable.” Mehlman Petrzela claims that these idea began to be rejected in the face of frankly racist appeals. She says that “fitness enthusiasts in the early 20th century” argued that “women should be lifting weights and gaining strength,” and that “at first, you feel like this is so progressive,” but then these fitness enthusiasts say, she claims, that “white women should start building up their strength because we need more white babies. They’re writing during an incredible amount of immigration, soon after enslaved people have been emancipated. This is totally part of a white supremacy project.”
Mehlman Petrzela adds that “that was a real ‘holy crap’ moment as a historian, where deep archival research really reveals the contradictions of this moment.” So exercising was racist, but further complicating matters, not exercising was homophobic: “I was also really moved speaking to gay men who had lived through HIV/AIDS and talked about how they exercised to display that they had a healthy body at a moment when there was so much homophobia.”
It’s tough to know where to step amid all this, but Mehman Petrzela’s claims are insidious any way you slice it. Some black Americans (sorry!) and white Leftists could stop exercising because they think exericising is racist. Some homosexuals and their friends and allies could stop exercising because they’re going to defy The Man and his homophobia. Either way, people are going to be fatter and unhealthier because of this nonsense. But hey, at least we won’t be racist, except for in every conceivable other way.