Polished or fit?

I have a dear 60-something neighbor who grew up in the South during a time when appearance meant everything. As a consequence, whenever I see her, she is dressed to the nines, perfectly made-up and beautifully coiffed. Sometimes after seeing her I’ll catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think “Wow–she must think I don’t give a damn about my appearance.”

She’s not far off the mark. I decided a long time ago that, with limited time, I often need to choose between make up and hair or a workout. I can tell you there’s never been a debate–if I’m short on time, it’s the appearance that’s going to slide, not the workout.

While there might be some who think that’s the wrong choice (I’m guessing not many of my readers!), I say I’d rather have a fit, healthy body any day of the week than perfect hair and make-up. I’d rather spend money on a new bike than plastic surgery, and that’s not saying I couldn’t use the knife at this age. Taking this a step further, if you put a fit, healthy woman in front of me alongside an impeccably done up woman and asked which was more attractive, I’d vote for the fit woman every time. I’m willing to guess many men are on board with this too.

What gives, Mr. Zippy?

The funniest part of all this is Mr. Zippy and his interpretation of attractive. Seriously, the man loves a made-up, tanned, fake-boobed woman any day of the week. He fully admits to having longed for Loni Anderson back in the day. How he ended up with me is one of life’s great mysteries, but I’m glad he did.

So just for kicks, let’s get shallow here: What’s your take on appearance? Fit or done up?

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  1. Jess @ Blonde Ponytail says

    FIT!!! I assume this will be the majority response to your question. You look fab in an athletic tank and khaki's. Loni couldn't pull that off could she?!

  2. JC says

    I have worn my hair pulled back in a simple pony for 90% of my life. I hate blow drying my hair. I hate wearing eye make up when it's hot. Though, even at (almost) 29, i love a skirt or dress that twirls when you spin around. However, I choose an hour at the gym in the AM to a flat iron ANY DAY!

  3. Jason says

    There is nothing sexier than a woman who is fit. NOTHING except for when that same woman gets dressed up to go out on a date with her husband and yes I'm talking about my wife.

  4. caity says

    A fit woman can always put on makeup if she wants to for a special event (like a date with Jason), but an unfit woman who is so polished can't paint on a fit body. Great topic!

  5. Eileen Flynn says

    I have pondered this quite a bit myself, having moved to the south from Chicago. It was hard, at first, to not feel a little pressure to polish, when 98% of the people in your community are. That said…FIT! FIT definitely won out for me!

  6. Amanda@runninghood says

    GREAT post topic Amanda! I'm sure most of the people that answer on here will say fit over polished…we are the majority of your audience…ha! But seriously, I would much rather be fit than be all done up. My husband likes the natural look better anyway! He loves the no make up look. Although he LOVES skirts and I need to get more of them! I do admit that I like getting dressed up though

  7. Shellyrm ~ just a country runner says

    my husband and I butt heads on my appearnce quite often. While on vacation he asked if I was going to workout or go out with the family, that time I caved and changed my clothes and did my face (alittle). I know he likes me that way but my choice is fit everyday…that doesn't mean I don't enjoy how good my fit body can look in some o those dresses hubbs asks me to wear or his reaction to me in them. 😉

  8. XLMIC says

    I have always been a fit person and not a polished person, but for some reason I have always envied those who are able to be so 'pulled together.' Disheveled is one of my middle names. Cherry Chapstick is my make up.

  9. Running Ricig says

    this cracks me up. I COMPLETELY agree. Mike is actually in agreement too. He'd much rather I was fit than done up. But the Mr. Zippy story kills me.

  10. Kate says

    I would say fit 90% of the time. However, when I run into Trader Joe's after a run, all sweaty and gross, and stand behind a perfectly made up woman that smells like expensive perfume, I sometimes feel completely unattractive. But fit is far better than fake(not to say that everyone that is done up is fake). I'd buy a $2,000 treadmill over liposuction any day. I am broke because I spend all of my money on running related activities and products instead of clothes and make-up. So, other than those moments when I am in line behind a model, I say FIT.

  11. The Green Girl says

    I love when little old ladies get all done up – it's adorable!

    As for me, I despise dressing up. I think it's form of torture.

  12. Coy Martinez says

    OH Mrs. Zippy!! I am living this dream! Make up and hair slide every time! I'm in a Nike sweatskirt and J Crew T with flip flops ALL THE TIME. I love walking down the street knowing that I can out run / swim and bike 95% of the women I see.

    Now! When the husband and I go out to dinner and a movie I marvel at all the ladies done up in heels and skirts, smelling like a botanical garden, while I'm clad in women's clinical strength degree. I would love to think that he would choose me (which he would of course) over the blonde bombshell who couldn't run across the street any day!

  13. Allison says

    Fit!!!! I don't have time with 3 little boys ages 8 and under for "polished."

    Unless I want to get up and get polished instead of sweaty. NAH! I'll take sweaty!

  14. Nelly says

    You could say I prefer someone in the middle – like most of the US women's soccer team for example. Very good athletes, but also cute.

  15. S Club Mama says

    I'd say fit but oh, I love those times when I can look polished! 😀 You do look pretty awesome! I don't think you need the knife at all.

  16. Lisa @ Eat.Pray.Run. says

    Fit, ALL THE WAY!! And, honestly, most of the time I feel sexier when I'm all sweaty in my workout clothes than I do all dolled up. I just feel more like myself in a sports bra, tank top and compression capris. Sometimes I even shower and then put on my workout clothes!! Ha!

  17. Char says

    I have to vote for fit – cause, seriously, look at me. Make-up? Only for weddings and funerals. High heels? Sorry don't own a pair. Push up bra? Do they come in sports models? I just can't be bothered.

    But I do blow-dry my hair every day because it's so straight that if I don't it gets in my eyes.

  18. Jess @ THIR says

    I'm all for fit. (says the girl who is 26 and still has no idea how to use makeup…)

    But I gotta admit, love it when my coaches get out in their suits. It's pretty hot 😉

    Good thing about the fit ladies, they still look good after their shower. Imagine having to deal with the disappointment of waking up next to a different person you went to sleep with… ew!

  19. BabyWeightMyFatAss says

    I do love it and respect women who do get dressed daily. Now I'm not the type who can't leave the house without lipgloss on because about 100% now my hair is pulled up and my pants are some type of elastic but I'm not competing with anyone and my husband gets a kick for when I do dress up it makes it special. that sounds lame lol.

  20. Teamarcia says

    Fit hands down! Even if i were to 'do myself up' that takes 5 minutes. And fake boobs would totally weigh me down, although the Caveman would love em I'm sure.

  21. Aimee says

    Fit all the way! But, I do have to say that being fit always makes me feel a whole lot better in my skin when I do get dressed up!

  22. Christy @ My Dirt Road Anthem: A Runner's Blog says

    FIT! No doubt! I am so with you on this! and my husband loves the big boobed broads who are all done up, then he married me HA jokes on him!

  23. Gracie (Complicated Day) says

    So I've got to tell you I've met many women who are not exactly movie stars, but they are well taken-care of: Hair done, perfume on, well-cut clothes. I must admit I prefer the "I care" look to the sweaty hair in a ponytail look, even if accompanied by fantastic abs! I'm not a fan of lots of make up or permed hair (or anything fake),but a well-tailored suit and a little powder go a long way. But hey, if I looked as cute as you naturally I guess I'd kick the make up too!

  24. Cory Reese says

    Definitely fit. But I have the advantage of being male where my hair is 1/2 inch and is always done.

  25. Erica says

    can I be both??? I think the fitter you look the easier it is to pull off a sweaty look…so I guess I would say fit

  26. Raquelita says

    See I find this a trick question because even though I am healthy (have good cholesterol, etc. and have run many miles) my body does not really look like what society expects a fit body to. I have cellulite and big hips. However, I can easily look polished.

  27. Kate says

    We're avid Survivor watchers, and season after season I'm always surprised by how much better the girls (especially the younger ones, but really almost all of them) look when they're makeup-less, sweaty, and dirty on the show than when they're all done up and dressed up on the reunion show.

    I by far prefer to look nice when I'm out, but I feel much more confident fit than not-fit and dressed nicely and made up.

  28. Michelle says

    Clearly, I love FIT! :) No make-up, hair pulled back and plenty of sweat! Not to mention that my husband is completely turned on by my running shorts and the band of sweat circling my mid section! :) LOVE IT!

  29. Julie D. says

    FIT all the way!! But since I live 98 percent of my life in athletic gear and a pony tail…getting 'done up' feels really good every once in awhile!! :) Good thing we go to church on sundays, or I'd never wear anything but running shoes and running pants.

  30. Tortuga_Runner says

    I have gotta go with both. I was all fit all the time and was totally comfortable with that, most times I just felt cute. Then I put on some weight, but had a fit brain so still didn't do make up. Fat and not polished was a recipe for disaster. I am not fit again and work in a professional setting where fit or not, if you are not polished you are not in the game. So now it is both. I don't spend hours getting ready, but I can polish faster than it takes me to run a mile so I think it is a pretty good balance.

  31. Jennifer says

    Since I don't own any makeup, or heels, I guess you can figure my side. I really don't mind looking pretty, but it's all relative, I work in a shop and wear steal-toe boots, so it doesn't take much to get me looking dresses up! I just have to wash my face and put on clean jeans.

  32. Jamoosh says

    I think fit and appearance go hand in hand and show that you care about yourself. An overweight guy in a suit is still fat and a fit guy in a dirty t-shirt is still a dirt bag.

    That said, I don't expect people to dress to the nines although there is a time and place to "dress up."

    In my opinion too many people are dressing too far down in public. PJ's in grocery stores, shirts that look like someone slept in them at department stores, gym wear at nice restaurants. Please, people should at least make an effort.

  33. Janice says

    My man is a former competitive swimmer who grew up with girls in bathing suits — no makeup and very fit. I'm lucky. He doesn't like makeup. He like fit, nicely muscled women. I so agree with you — I find healthy, fit women to be the most beautiful. I try to raise my girls to be that way — loose hair, no makeup, strong healthy bodies. I can get up, shower, dressed and out the door in half an hour. I gave up on makeup in my early 20s — it took too long to put on and I never looked better. I feel sad for people who are chained to their appearance.

  34. Big Daddy Diesel says

    From a mans point of view, we like the fit look more then the polished, polish has its time and place, but we actually prefer fit

  35. Amanda - RunToTheFinish says

    so funny david seems to like me better in my workout gear…usually. I actually feel more like myself in my workout gear a lot of times, but I do admire the women who always look polished

  36. Dash says

    I'm totally with you and Mr. Dash and Mr. Zippy would be great friends. I met Mr. Dash at the gym while wearing a sports bra, to this day he still claims boob trickery. In a sports bra, really? I am apparently the only boob-job hold out at the gym.

  37. *~*~* Tracy says

    I vote for fit too. Thankfully, I caught my husband's eye because I'm a 'low maintainence broad.'

    It's fun to dress up every now and then, but if I have extra time or money, I'll spend it on something fitness related.

  38. Denise says

    i hear you! i haven't done my hair in months because of my workouts. i hate myself w/ long hair but i'm not cutting it because i don't have time to mess with it each morning!

  39. That Pink Girl says

    Great post! I see women who are so put together and while I admire them, I just don't know how they do it! I put on makeup and end up looking like a clown. My hands do not know how to style hair. And while sometimes (often) I feel like a schlump standing nxt to them, my most favorite photos of myself were taken after a race or a run with friends. No make up at all, crazy sweaty hair and a huuuge smile! I feel good about myself when I'm making myself stronger!

  40. Fair Weather Runner says

    funnty i was feeling bummed yesterday because i am the 'athletic girl at work' (minimal makeup, came back to work with a ponytail after running over lunch, etc) and i was comparing myself to the 'pretty girls' at work. then realized i am who i am, i love that i'm fit, a runner and athletic. so i'm in the same boat with you there! love this post :)

  41. Kim says

    It's not even about the workouts for me – I just have no interest in spending too much time on the hair & makeup!

  42. e410 says

    Fit, but then again, I do appreciate looking/smelling nice whenever I leave my home (not saying that I always do). Fortunately for me, I work in a profession (well, grad school) where most of the people are men, we're wearing lab gloves/goggles/coats 90% of the time, and the few chicas that are around aren't girlygirls. I admit, I wish I worked somewhere that I could dress up or look cute, but that just means I'd have to wake up even earlier 'cause I sure as heck ain't gonna miss a workout!

  43. Chris K says

    Fit, Fit, Fit. Fit. I like a fit woman who wears jeans and a baseball cap with her pony tail coming out the back. Hubba hubba.

  44. Raina says


    Are you telling me that they can make boobs bigger?

    There are clothes besides running shoes, and climacool wicking fabric?

    Shhh…don't tell my husband!

  45. Terzah says

    FIT!! Lucky thing I feel that way, too, because I'm all thumbs at make-up, have no taste in clothing and look sort of normal in all my photos from the 80s and early 90s because I've never been able to do hair. :^)

  46. Happy Feet 26.2 says

    I'm with the fit crowd. I spend MUCH more on workout clothes & fitness toys, yoga classes, races, etc., than any other thing.

    I'm totally NOT picky about my hair. When I go to get a haircut, I always tell them, "I'm not particular, except, I need to be able to put my hair in a ponytail." My style of choice.

    I do admire some woman who are fit and polished, but I don't have the time, energy, or desire most of the time.

  47. Black Knight says

    Fit, fit, fit!!!
    A fit woman can always improve her look with a make up, dressing up ecc.
    But on the contrary it is difficult for an unfit woman to become fit!
    About your question …. fit fit fit

  48. lindsay says

    fit and comfortable!!! if that means sweats … oh well! :) i do admire people who want to put all that effort into it – i would have my makeup smeared within 3 minutes.

  49. SupermomE12 says

    I am behind, but of course I say fit. My hair is straight and "natural", I wear very little make up, I don't dress fancy or wear lots of jewelry, but I am in awesome shape and I feel great and that's how I like it. :)

    I will email you about the trip when I get home. Can't wait to meet you!

  50. Christine says

    I put on lipstick at mile 26.1 of my first marathon so I'd look presentable in my finish line photo.

    I vote – BOTH.