body image · clothing · cycling · fitness

Sam’s thoughts about shorts

I posted an article recently to our Facebook page about shorts. Called How To Wear Shorts and Love Your Legs, it told the story of a powerlifter who grew up ashamed to wear shorts because of her big legs.

In some ways it’s not a problem I have–though I certainly have big legs too–because cyclists all wear shorts. On the bike, there isn’t really a choice. Yes, there are bike dresses, about which I have complicated thoughts. but they’re not made for long distance riding.

Pretty much cyclists wear form fitting shorts. I was riding with some women recently and we took a timed selfie. The phone sat on the ground in order to get the best view of our legs. That made me laugh because usually the concern is to put the camera up high to avoid double chins.

Here’s the pic:

People at work see me in shorts because I often ride in to work and then change there. If I get carried away answering early morning email, more people than I might like see me in shorts.

But there is one place I often don’t wear shorts and it’s an odd one.

At the gym I tend to wear capris or leggings, not shorts.

I think it’s because I work out at the gym the most in the winter and there’s the leg hair issue! Then I get used to wearing capris or leggings and feel self-conscious in shorts.

It’s so odd how that feeling creeps in and how place specific it can be.

I’m good wearing shorts out and about on the weekend in daytime, but I would never go out in the evening in shorts. The other night I went sailing in bike shorts but then when we opted for dinner out on the way home, I had a last minute moment of panic about what I was wearing.

Good gravy. It was a patio in the summertime. We were eating pizza. It wasn’t exactly a fancy night out. Shorts were clearly not inappropriate, and yet…

I hate those lists of what not to wear after 50. I’m pretty sure bike shorts in public, when not actually on a bike, might be on their list. But I also recognize, as I edge closer to 60, it’s going to take a bit of work not to care.

Here’s Ernie not listening!

Ernie with socks over his ears

How about you? Shorts, yes or no? All places or just some places? Is it about modesty about a judgement about whose legs, which kind of legs, what age of legs, ought to be seen out and about in shorts?

5 thoughts on “Sam’s thoughts about shorts

  1. Interesting. Like you, I wear shorts a lot for my activities. Summer running and hot yoga (when I do it), for sure. Usually for weight training but I’ve been doing that more virtually and have taken to wearing capris. One thing I’ve changed is I’m more likely to wear loose-fitting running shorts these days. And certainly for being out and about. I have shorts for wearing out—even some dressier shorts for work. My main concern as I approach sixty is is less about “the lists” of what not to wear and more about looking frumpy. I aim for comfort, but there is a fine line between comfortable and frumpy and I’m not ready to cross it!

  2. I wear shorts (And short running skirts) often for workouts. I’m the daily life, I work at home so often wear shorts. But it’s a clothing item I didn’t wear for a long time, because I was self conscious I came back to them about a year before I turned 50. And yes, it was because I felt self conscious. As for wearing them out at night, the reason I often don’t is strictly comfort—sitting on restaurant chairs or leatherette movie seats is more comfortable in a dress or pants. So my skin isn’t sticking to the chair. Last thing—I generally prefer not to wear my workout clothes out for a meal simply because I want to get out of my sweaty clothes first!

  3. I have had a complicated relationship with shorts. While I wear them for running and cycling, there was a long period of my adult life that I didn’t wear them, because I felt self-conscious. Then, oddly, the year before I turned 50 I suddenly bought two pairs of shorts and started wearing them day and out at night. I keep wondering when I’ll think I should stop wearing shorts. And every time I think that, I get frustrated at myself about my own self-consciousness. A bit of a cycle I could use to break. And, I often don’t wear them out at night because of sticky skin on hot summer nights against restaurant chairs, or cold legs in refrigerated movie theaters. Plus the red slash across the back of my legs, when I’ve been sitting on a hard chair in shorts. This shouldn’t be so complicated in my mind! Thank you for the provocative piece.

  4. Just recently my daughter and I noticed how many women wear capris or pants even when it’s HOT. I worried that I’d missed a rule about what to wear/not wear (because I’ve missed most of them) as a very large 55-year-old woman. With varicose and spider veins. And legs that haven’t been shaved in years. Honestly, that observation did make me a bit self-conscious and a bit more likely to reach for capris, but also, wtf? I’m resisting the urge to overthink whether my legs might make someone else uncomfortable. I’ve had friends tell me over the years that my “courage” to wear a bathing suit or go braless inspired them to put their own comfort first. (Not sure how wearing swimwear to swim counts as bravery, but hey, we live in a weird world.) Anyway: Wear whatever you want. Why is someone else’s hypothetical comfort more important than your own?

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