New Zealand isn’t a country I associate with body shame and modesty. In my experience (sabbatical at the University of Otago in Dunedin a few years ago)-it was the land of men wearing short shorts. Think rugby. Also shirtless men and shoeless everyone. My Canadian academic wardrobe made me feel overdressed.
And certainly, like Australia, the cyclists weren’t a very modest bunch.
Yet here is a cafe in New Zealand banning bike shorts. (You have to wear trousers instead. Just taking them off isn’t an option.) That’s especially odd given how much cyclists love coffee and breakfast after long rides. Whatever. I’m sure there are other coffee shops in town. This discomfort with men’s bodies is puzzling.
Why men’s bodies, in particular? The sausage references are a clue. The owner of the Plough Hotel Mike Saunders complains about unsightly bumps and bulges.
“We get a nice group of customers out here, some elderly folk . . . when you’re trying to concentrate on your breakfast you just want to see the sausages on your plate.”
Read more about it here.
What is it with men’s bodies that makes people so uncomfortable, positively squeamish unless those bodies are perfect? See Stop saying you don’t need to see that for some of my thoughts about this.
And I worry that enough people are already uncomfortable enough in bike clothing. This won’t help. See No way I ask wearing that for my thoughts on body conscious clothing as a barrier to fitness.
Me, I’m very happy in lycra. I often think I look better in bike clothes than just about anything else. I’m not sure if it’s just that they do suit me or if they just make very happy. Bike clothes mean bike rides!
What are your limits for wearing bike clothes in public?
Sarah and I went for a ride yesterday before my book group. It was a beautiful day, beautiful ride east of Toronto on the waterfront trail. But she got calf cramps on our way back to the car and we were delayed. And then city traffic.
“You will arrive at your destination at 6:53 pm. You’re on the fastest route despite usual traffic.”
Book group is at 6:30 for a 7 pm start. And we still needed to pick up food.
Pizza! Yay! But that meant going into book group and the pizza shop dressed in bike clothes. Tights, jersey, arm warmers, vest. I’d ditched the shoes, gloves, and helmet.
I told people that since I was spending more time in Toronto they should get used to seeing me dressed this way. Nice to have a range, said our generous host.
I don’t usually teach in cycling attire, though I confess I have once or twice in my career taught graduate students dressed in cycling kit. Tight teaching, training schedule. Sorry. But I figure by then they’re instructor resilient. Almost nothing gets in the way of their learning.
But always black. There’s a reason cycling shorts are black.