This week, Vox published a great piece on a (completely imaginary) 19th century phenomenon called “bicycle face.” In a nutshell: Doctors in the late 1800s invented a velocipedically induced physical condition to dissuade women from riding bikes:
“Over-exertion, the upright position on the wheel, and the unconscious effort to maintain one’s balance tend to produce a wearied and exhausted ‘bicycle face,’” noted the Literary Digest in 1895. It went on to describe the condition: “usually flushed, but sometimes pale, often with lips more or less drawn, and the beginning of dark shadows under the eyes, and always with an expression of weariness.” Elsewhere, others said the condition was “characterized by a hard, clenched jaw and bulging eyes.”
Fair enough — keeping one’s balance sure is hard! Especially for those of us with uteri, because of our confused and equilibrium-challenged lady-brains.
This got me thinking about different conditions that threaten the modern urban woman trying to get from Point A to Point B. Henceforth, a brief catalogue:
“Cab-Exiting” Face: “I just paid 45 AMERICAN DOLLARS to take a 15-minute taxi ride, and now I have to awkwardly shuffle across this nasty leather seat with my knees clenched together to make sure that none of the 900 strangers on this sidewalk get a view of my vagina. Did I even remember to put on underwear this morning? Fuck.”
“Your Gym Bag Is Taking Up Two Seats On This Packed Subway” Face: “Whoever made these shoes is a certifiable sadist. But hey, my having to stand makes sense — your putrid, enormous Nikes are absolutely more valuable than my feet. I have now lost 80 percent of the feeling in my toes.”
“Did You Seriously Just Drive RIGHT Past This Designated Bus Stop?” Face: “I have been waiting here for 25 minutes. It is somehow raining and hailing at the same time. I KNOW that you saw me, bus driver, because we made eye contact, but then I think I saw horns magically come out of your head.”
“My Two Options Right Now Are Uber Surge Pricing Or A Bus That Now Comes Once Every Two Hours” Face: “This is why you should never, ever let anyone convince you to stay out past 2:00 a.m.”
Keep in mind, ladies — all of these are potentially permanent and therefore detrimental to your physical appearance, which is your single most valuable asset.