Ask anyone who’s ever done anything remotely physical with me and they’ll let you know that I am perhaps the sweatiest person alive. In true millennial fashion, I refuse to take responsibility for my state of sweatiness and instead like to blame it on my grandmother who’s the only person I know who needs to keep her windows open in the middle of winter (in New Hampshire) lest she *literally* sweat to death—had I not inherited such potent sweat genes, I may have stood a chance of not being the grossest person at the end of a run or hike or bike ride or [insert just about anything that involves moving around here].
Since I’m not rich enough to get whatever fancy plastic surgery you can get to make yourself sweat less, I’ve been able to spend a lot of time studying the various types of sweat over the years. And since I’ve become such a sweat aficionado, I’m here to give you the rundown of the various sweat zones in order from “meh” (least awful) to “why do I even have sweat glands there?” (most awful).
Sweaty anything is pretty gross, but compared to the other areas, sweaty feet are actually not that terrible. Maybe it’s because most of the time you don’t even really notice how sweaty your feet are until after you take off your running shoes/hiking shoes/cycling shoes, or maybe it’s because the soles of your feet are so far away from your brain that it’s easier to forget about and/or ignore them (that’s how neural pathways or whatever work, right?). Maybe (probably) it’s something else entirely. Whatever the reason, just as feet are the lowest point of the body, they also rank the lowest on the how-awful-is-it sweat scale.
Deciding where pits fall in this ranking presented a brief struggle for me, but ultimately I realized two things: 1) of all the places to sweat this is probably the most common, so it can’t be that bad; and 2) if you sweat as profusely as I do here, you eventually just say to yourself “eh, ƒu¢k it” and stop letting it bother you so much. Pits also rank fairly low on the list because they’re pretty easy to hide—you either wear a tank top so there’s no opportunity for pit stains in the first place, or you get really good at never lifting your arms up in front of other people.
I sometimes feel bad complaining about face sweat because I know that there are people out there with conditions like alopecia, who have no eyebrows or eyelashes to keep the sweat out of their eyes. But then my insanely aggressive sweat drops make their way into my eyeballs despite my reasonably full brows and lashes and I realize that my life is just as hard as theirs. (Kidding, obviously.) Face/neck sweat isn’t the absolute worst since it’s easy enough to wipe it away…but if you don’t wipe it away fast enough then it just runs down your body, getting progressively more terrible as it gains momentum.
When you search Google for “sweaty stomach” images, you almost get tricked into thinking that belly sweat is kinda-sorta glamorous. And I suppose that if you exercise shirtless/wearing only a sports bra, then having a sweaty midsection isn’t so bad. However, if you’re not a fitness model and/or lack the confidence to work out with your tummy out, then be prepared for gross stomach sweat stains. (To make matters worse, belly sweat can also take a lot longer to subside than other sweat which is especially terrible when you work out during your lunch hour and then spend the rest of the afternoon worrying about whether or not you’ll end up with sweat stains on the front of your work shirt.)
If this were a ranking of how inconvenient sweat is, then back sweat would absolutely take first place. Like stomach sweat, back sweat takes forever to go away and it just looks and feels gross. Back sweat is particularly bothersome when it occurs for no good reason. I mean, when I’m running or hiking (especially with a pack on), it’s expected and therefore slightly more tolerable. But when I’m literally just sitting around doing nothing and can feel the tickle of sweat trickling down my back, it’s not okay. But since this ranking is in order of how insufferable sweat is, there are still two (okay, three) places that are even worse…
2. Butt (and Boobs, if you’re unfortunate enough to have them)
If you scrolled ahead to see which sweat zone is the worst and now find yourself wondering why I didn’t roll #2 and #1 into one spot together, it’s partially because when something has a name as hilarious as “swamp ass,” that thing gets its own spot on the list. Swamp ass is exactly as awful as it sounds, and the absolute worst is when your butt is already super sweaty and then you feel a stream of back sweat finagle its way riiiight down the butt crack. I feel disgusting just thinking about it.
Tied for second place for half of the population is boob sweat. In some ways, boob sweat is almost as okay as foot sweat. Sports bras do a pretty good job of soaking it up, which means you don’t necessarily notice it until it’s time to change…but that’s where it quickly transitions from “this isn’t so bad” to “fml, why do I even work out at all?” There is almost nothing worse than peeling off your sports bra only to have it drag its sweaty self across your face in the process.
Ah, here we are: the worst of the worst. Bit sweat shouldn’t need an explanation for why it’s the worst. But I’ll give a quick one anyway: finishing a workout and honestly wondering did I pee myself at some point and just not realize it? is quite possibly life’s cruelest joke.
And I obviously don’t have testicles, but I imagine the phrase “hot as balls” exists for a good reason.