I lift weights. I am cis-female. I buy jeans.
When I go to the mall to buy jeans, I can literally try on every style in Macy’s or Nordstroms and walk away without a single pair that fits me well. I have a narrower-than-average waist (28-29 inches) and wider-than-average thighs (each about 24 inches around). So, I often have to choose between fitting my legs into pants and then having enormous gapping at the waist, or squeezing my legs in tight enough that I’m at risk of losing circulation when I sit down so that it fits around my middle.
Needless to say, I was THRILLED therefore to discover Barbell Apparel, who markets their jeans to lifters–with sizing not just for the waist measurement but with a THIGH measurement too! I enthusiastically became their customer and signed up for their email list to keep up on marketing. These pants are not cheap, and I knew I’d want to restock when they were on sale.
And for the last 2 years, EVERY email I’ve gotten from them since, minus perhaps one at Christmas, has been targeted exclusively to men and their men’s line.
Some weeks ago, I sent them feedback–are they aware that they only market their men’s line? It might be good to have two types of emails–one targeted to the folks buying women’s clothes and one for those buying men’s. Alternately, maybe include images from both lines in each email? It would help me feel valued and part of the club! After all, women lifters already are a minority within a minority (I’ve written about my own experiences with this previously). Any company that helps me feel like I’m in the club will win my appreciation and loyalty!
The response I got back suggested they didn’t get it. “We are excited to announce we will be adding to our women’s line very soon!” Ok, but do you hear me saying that you are excluding me by marketing only the men’s products?
It is frustrating. And I now feel more ambivalent about their products. I love the idea of celebrating my proportions–my big, strong thighs are NOT typically treated as admirable, but here is a clothing line with proud tank tops declaring “Thunder Thighs!” I don’t think it’s too much to ask that they show that pride in their marketing materials, too.
What say you? Do you feel included and celebrated by the manufacturers of products you are loyal to? What types of inclusivity do you value in advertising?
2021 Update: I want to give credit to Barbell Apparel for improving their marketing of their women’s line. Many more of the emails I receive now include images of their women’s products next to their men’s products. In addition, they have added more women’s products on their website. Thank you Barbell!
Marjorie Hundtoft is a middle school science and health teacher. She can be found picking up heavy things and putting them back down again in Portland, Oregon. You can now read her at Progressive-Strength.com .