You must be ‘this’ size to work out
One of the challenges I’ve noticed in the US is the prevalence of size-ism. The fact that some brands only go up to size XL or size 12 is a common complaint in the US, despite the average weight for women is 165lbs and men is 191lbs. Yes, as a country we all need to lose weight.
And I think most people know that you lose weight by changing your diet and exercising.. which is where the sizism really kicks in.
As Jezebel recently noted, Lulumon only goes up to size 10 (I weigh 130 and am a size 6-8), and Nike’s Women’s ‘Large’ is barely a size 8.When you check out running brands such as New Balance, Asics and god help you, any cycling brand… well if you’re over 160lbs you’re shit out of luck. Just think ‘Lycra sausage’ and you’re close. In fact, unless you buy your workout gear from Target, Walmart or KMart, (substandard, off brand and again, limited to size S,M, L and XL), your average sporting good store probably doesn’t even carry a size for your average overweight American. I guess this means women have to wear men’s sizes and men… a trash bag??
As someone who grew up around people who were all sizes, one of the most common excuses I heard for not working out and relying on fad diets was ‘they don’t make workout gear in my size’.
Which is totally irrational: the people who actually NEED to be working out . can’t buy it? Who made that decision?
Apparently sporting brands don’t actually want non fit (aka fat) people to wear their brand.. in case their brand is tainted by association. Good job they’ve not seen my cellulite.. they’d have my shorts off quicker than Usane Bolt.
Now I understand that brands are aspirational. If I buy the Reebok Nano 3.0 shoe, maybe I’ll be a better Cross fitter; if I buy the new Asic Kayano’s maybe I’ll be able to run further or faster. And don’t get me started on the myth of the Lulumon shorts and tights (yes, your ass does look good doesn’t it?). But not even making sizes that allow people who want and need to get fitter, to exercise in comfort, to look good and feel good.. its beyond rude. Its offensive. And while I’m not a size L, I care about quite a few larger women and I’m pissed on their behalf. Especially as they’re forced to take jogs in men’s basketball shorts. Not even men look cute in those.
But there is one area of sizism that touches all women. Literally. The over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders. Sports bras. No matter what your size, no matter your fitness, we all struggle to find a sports bra that works. Bras have been around since 1889, but the good sports bra remains as elusive as Bigfoot (and equally attractive). Whether your issue is size, weight, lobsided-ness (yes guys, they don’t always come in matching sets), aggressively pointy nipples or complete and utter lack, the sports industry has something to disappoint and embarrass you.
My friend, Linda, suffers from nipple aggression. No, they don’t go out and beat up people, but they do stick out a lot. All the time. And while that’s fine for Jennifer Aniston and her boyfriend, its not something she wants or needs at the gym. (men, stop rolling your eyes.. its just not cool, like a boner at a job interview). You’d think that manufacturers would have figured this out. After all, most gyms are air conditioned. Women have nipples. You do the math. 17 bras later, she still has to stuff her bra with cotton pads to prevent them from sticking out when she works out.
My friend Hope is blessed with an impressive prow. Her ‘sistas’ not only sit high and proud, she’s managed to keep them luscious despite losing most of her body fat over the last 8 months. But can she find a bra that keeps them where they’re meant to go? Held down so that she doesn’t bruise her chin while doing double unders? or suffer serious spillage when she does a burpee? Nope.. as long as I’ve known her she’s had to double up (2 at the same time), or wear something that resembles a parachute. Her sports bra could serve double duty as a strait jacket or a paragliding harness and creates this weird flattened lifejacket around her torso that could repel a stray bullet. If she wears a regular sports bar and does anything resembling exercise, her boobs pop out the top of her bra.. which is never a good look mid marathon.
And this girl is fit and slim… god help those women who are larger..
Another chick in my life, Felicia, has lost oodles of weight over the last 12 months and taken herself from overweight mom of 2 complete with bat wing arms and thigh rubbage, to a lithe and skinny 125lbs who runs every other day. Unfortunately she now needs to origami her boobs into a sports bra, since they don’t make them for sporty women who’ve had kids. Because thats never happened.
And finally there is my chica, Tanya, who apparently went to the gym the day they were handing boobs out and is barely more than two nipples and a hope. Her options are a faux bandeau top that basically shouts ‘Look how flat-chested I am’ or a padded effort that, once sweaty, sags down to her belly button like some National Geographic woman after her 8th child. Either way, she’s not feeling feminine or appealing at the gym. And if you don’t feel good while you’re working out..when are you feeling good?
C’mon Nike, Adidas, Moving Comfort and CXW… How hard is it to make a damn bra?
And while you’re at it.. how about some better guys shorts? You don’t want to see our boobs falling out while you’re lifting.. we don’t need to see major ballage while you’re squatting. Get with the program manufacturers.