“Do you even lift?”


“I would use it if . . . if someone was like walking down the street and they looked like they were really jacked and they were wearing like, one of those like douche-y frat bro tanks, I’d be like, ‘Dude, D-Y-E-L?’ But, like, if he didn’t lift then he’d probably be like, ‘What?’ but if he did he’d be like, ‘Oh, dude totally.’ And then it’s like that connection.”


The informant thinks she learned it from a hashtag on an Instagram account for CrossFit. “It means a lot, actually, like to me personally . . . If someone knows what DYEL means then it’s like, oh like, you’ve done your research type of thing, or it’s like you follow those CrossFit Instagrams, you follow those like bodybuilding Instagrams, like you’re into the fitness which means you’re like into the community and like . . . ‘cause a lot of people do say like, ‘Oh yeah I work out,’ and it’s like I could sit on a treadmill and watch TV too. Like I don’t consider that a workout. Like if you can watch TV that’s not a workout to me. If you can, like, have thoughts that’s not a workout to me it’s like you should be pushing yourself to be, like, where your body is failing . . . where it’s like you can’t do another sit-up, you can’t do another squat, you can’t do another push-up . . . ‘cause then it means like you’re actually, like, making your body better. And that’s what lifting is about. It’s like pushing yourself, ‘cause it’s not only like, like you’re not only pushing yourself physically, but you have to be mentally strong because it’s like, it’s painful to be like, ‘Fuck, I have to do this again?’”


“Like I can instantly look at someone, even if they’re in a full suit, and be like, ‘Yes or no.’ Like, from the way, like, they look or like I see all these guys in the gym and their upper bodies look strong, but I can lift more than them . . . It’s interesting, the culture, because they do it for looks rather than functionality and like, I don’t have a six-pack by any means, like I have, like, more fat on my body, but like, I’m in better shape than them . . . they’re way off, which is, like really sad, because like, they don’t know what they’re doing and then like you’re destroying your body and you’re gonna hurt yourself later in life, which is a really sad thought . . . They’re doing it wrong, and they don’t even lift. So that is my DYEL.”


The informant was a 21-year-old USC student who grew up in competitive snowboarding and has dabbled in CrossFit and other workout programs. She sees herself as a part of “lifting culture” and values physical strength and hard work in other people. It was interesting to me that she had such a long explanation of what “DYEL” means, as I had only previously heard about it in a joking context. From what I understand about “DYEL,” it is frequently used as a sarcastic turn of phrase online and in the world at large. I agree with the gist of what the informant said, though, as it seems like this acronym is a way of quickly establishing who belongs in the lifting community, and who does not. It seems like the community is very aware of how it is perceived and that people frequently try to pass for being a part of it, so things like “DYEL” easily separate out those that are “in the know.” Of course, it is also noteworthy that the informant learned of this acronym/hashtag from an Instagram account. It speaks to the spaces in which the lifting community is meeting and the way they feel they need to express themselves in a larger social sphere.