Owning this item has also spawned three new things that delight me:
1) My son J connected my hat headphones via Bluetooth to my phone under the name ‘hatphones.’ It makes me laugh every time I see it. HATPHONES! HA!
2) I get to say ‘Oh, I have to remember to charge my hat!’
3) I get to say ‘Hang on, I can’t hear you yet, my hat is still talking to me.’
Yes, I find my fun where I can.
PS – I sometimes wear my hat inside for practicing TKD patterns or doing yoga. Unlike my other wireless (in-ear) earphones, my hatphones are sitting comfortably OVER my ears and while they reduce how well I can hear other sounds they don’t block them entirely. Also, I can easily pause (by pressing on the button over my ear) the video without having to scramble for my phone or for the remote control.
This post brings together two common themes here at Fit is a Feminist Issue.
Theme one is making our way through COVID winter. Winter isn’t easy for some of us at the best of times but this year hiding out indoors until it passes isn’t really an option. You can cozy it up, sure, hygge style, but you might be lonely. Possibly also depressed. Maybe both.
So along with hygge, people are recommending that we adopt the attitude of friluftsliv. Read about the latter concept here.
“Friluftsliv is a word used by Swedes, Danes and Norwegians. It translates literally as ‘fresh-air life’, and is all about embracing the great outdoors whatever the weather, being active, and immersing yourself in nature.
Scandinavians spend time outdoors no matter what season it is. For Kim Lindqvist, a volunteer with the Swedish Outdoor Association, Friluftsliv means “to be outdoors and in the air, and just enjoy it in nature. To listen to the leaves, or watch the clouds”.
Friluftsliv sounds like a good fit for the FIFI blog community. We like to spend time outdoors. We’re active. And we all want to enjoy the company of friends through the pandemic winter.
I completely agree that spending time outside is key to enjoying winter. I’ve been recommending winter biking, here and here. But the thing about friluftsliv is you’ve got to dress for it.
OK, on to the second theme that we talk about lots on the blog. Theme two is about finding gear that fits all bodies, in particular plus sized bodies. It’s not always easy. See our post about finding plus sized cycling and hiking gear.
It’s not a far away problem. It’s an issue for some of the fit feminists who blog here, me included. See Catherine’s post and my post about the challenge of finding winter coats that fit. We’re not even particularly large plus sized people, shopping in the L to XXL range. Also, we’re professors with reasonable salaries so we’ve got the option to buy new. It’s harder still if your income means you’re trying to find discount clothing or used gear.
This matters because of the message we send about which bodies belong outside in the winter. It’s symbolic and meaningful and all that. It’s also practical. Winter (in Canada at least) means we worry about frostbite and getting cold. Spending time outside–even just walking the dog–sometimes requires snow pants, parkas, hats, mitts, scarves, and good boots.
This year, more than ever, we’re all going to have get outside and spend time with friends and family during the winter. My kids are talking about winter camping in backyard so we can all spend Christmas holidays together!
So I was thinking about these themes–getting outside and enjoying Canadian pandemic winter–and the necessity of finding the right gear, when along came these guys Plus Snow.
“What she wants to see is more of the joy that her customers share when they can finally play in the snow with their kids.
Balon said she is looking for people to model the clothes she sells. She currently uses #curvystoke to raise awareness and celebrate people who wear plus sizes playing in the snow.”
What I didn’t expect when I shared the story on our Facebook page was thanks from Mon Balon herself,
“Omgosh you guys!!! Thanks so so much for sharing this article about my business and my launch in North America! It’s not a perfect model (you have to wait about 2 weeks to get your gear) yet but I do have lots of CHOICE and lots of measuring charts and our help and customer service is unparalleled (I think anyway!) Shop Your Shape is our brilliant feature which helps you find the perfect fit if you need it https://plussnow.com/shop-your-shape/“
I also didn’t expect the flurry of readers with their own issues finding plus sized snow gear. There were a lot of comments on that post.
One of the commentators was Richelle Olsen who owns outdoor wear she bought from Plus Snow.
Here’s Richelle modeling her gear.
I asked Richelle if I could share the photos and she said yes.
Here’s what else she had to say:
“I’m in Tasmania, an island off the south coast of Australia. I lead body positive adventure trips for Escaping Your Comfort Zone 2-3 times a year, and each time I go a few days early and just drive and see where I end up. This time I ended up in this prehistoric rainforest called the Tarkine, in the rain, camping amongst giants with no one else around.
I’m wearing the Raiski Fuchu R+ Women’s Longline jacket in size 22. I love it because it’s super long and covers my butt, its slightly stretchy and is reliably waterproof after days of constant rain in Tasmania. It’s from Plus Snow – Plus Sized Snow Gear 💚💚
Fun fact: The Tarkine Wilderness Area is one of the last undisturbed tracts of Gondwanan rainforest in the world, and one of the highest concentrations of Aboriginal archeology in the Southern Hemisphere. This place, which remains largely as it was when dinosaurs roamed the planet, is currently at the mercy of destructive logging and mining. There’s an amazing short film about this called “What if running could save a rainforest?” Featuring a good friend of mine, Nicole Anderson, who is a doctor, ultra runner and passionate rainforest protector”
Are you a plus sized snow loving person? Are you planning to get out this year? Where’d you buy your gear? What counts as essential for the snow loving activities you do?
FWIW, and in case you’re wondering, this is isn’t a promotional post. I didn’t know Richelle or Mon prior to sharing the story on our Facebook page.
So as many of you know, I’ve been riding my bike on the trainer a lot lately.
But all those hours Zwifting have been tough on my cycling clothes. I keep old stuff around and I tend to wear it to death. See here (from 2014) and it’s still true. I wear shorts with thinning lycra under dresses for work bike commutes (back in the pre-pandemic times when I commuted to work) and I wear them at home on the trainer. I have shorts that came with me on my first sabbatical in Australia 13 years ago. I still regularly wear my very first pair of cycling specific socks and they are nearly 20 years old! I keep inspecting them, looking for holes, and wear, but they are doing fine.
Those tenacious socks aside, things are starting to wear out. And the thinning cycling shorts aren’t just not decent, they’re also starting to get uncomfortable. Riding the trainer is harder on clothes I suspect. It’s sweatier and there’s a lot less time out of the saddle, moving around. They make indoor cycling specific clothing now but so far I haven’t been tempted to buy it.
In Zwift’s virtual world my avatar has a lot of cool kit to choose from. You earn kit through riding lots and from doing specific events. I have Pride kit from doing the Pride rides and I have team kit from TFC through riding for TFC.
I’ve been wanting some new bike clothes for my actual, physical, non-virtual, self.
I did a Betty Designs workout the other day and I liked the kit my avatar was wearing. It turns out they sell it for actual people. Of course they do!
Sadly their snazzy Zwift kit was sold out.
But I browsed the site anyway because why not, I was there. Every single model is wearing size S or XS. They sell larger sizes but there aren’t any models wearing it. Instead it’s screen after screen of super thin models. Mostly the same model actually. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m fine with smaller people and thin models. Some women wear size XS. There are lots of thin cyclists.
Not all cyclists are thin though. Some of us wear sizes L and XL and beyond. See Big Women on Bikes.
See Finally, Body Positive Cycling Kits For Women for an interview with the people behind Machines for Freedom: “I really wanted to change what this sport looked like and to create space for difference and individuality in a sport that values uniformity,” says Kriske. “When we launched, I was very deep into training, often riding 20-plus hours a week and treating it like a part-time job. Yet, I felt like I didn’t fit in, all because I was a curvy woman who valued life and relationships rather than just talking about gear ratios or what new bike I was lusting after. I saw the industry as very flat and superficial, and tailored to folks who ascribed to a very specific, and elite, lifestyle. I wanted to change that, to draw more people in.”
Between the fact that my Zwift avatar doesn’t look like me size-wise and none of the women on the Betty Designs site are anywhere near my size, you’d almost think that women my size don’t ride bikes. But we do. I do. And I’d like some representation please.
Thanks Machines For Freedom for getting it right. Women my size do ride bikes and need cycling clothes. We also appreciate being represented in your advertising imagery.
Earlier, when I was planning to teach a course on feminism, ethics, and fashion I asked whether we had an obligation to buy from size inclusive brands. At the time some readers had given me flack for liking Oiselle sports bras. The issue is that they only offer sizes up to LARGE and while they fit me, they wouldn’t fit lots of athletic women out there. The issue in today’s post is not exactly the same. Betty Designs sizes do go up to XL and while that’s still limited, the worry I raised here was a different one. Their size range includes M, L, and XL but none of their models are wearing that size. They’re all S and XS.
Having people who look like you doing the sport in question makes a difference. I’ve made the point here in terms of shape/size but Black Girls Do Bike makes the point in terms of racial diversity.
Machines for Freedom are also keen to get more Black, Indigenous and all People of Color riders out there telling their stories about riding bikes. You can offer your support here.
“Black, Indigenous and People of Color have often been left out of conversations about biking. As a film festival with 18 years of experience seeking unique bicycle stories, we have a long history of searching for films by BIPOC filmmakers. We know firsthand how few of these films exist. We’re working to change that! Funding is a major barrier to filmmaking, which is why we’ve created this fund to award generous grants to emerging filmmakers. With your support, we can award grants to more filmmakers and help bring important stories and voices to the screen.”
I’m mostly wearing yoga pants or leggings with black tops and scarves or even a suit jacket over top for weekdays. I swap the suit jacket for a hoodie for dog walking. I swapped out my summer clothes for my winter wardrobe last weekend. Bye bye sundresses! You’re in the basement box for out of season clothing now.
My winter work clothes are more formal. And I’m not wearing dry clean only clothes around the house. Here’s looking at you, Cheddar! So lots of them got put away too.
My summer dresses are pretty comfy. I even bought a lovely nap dress in keeping with pandemic fashion trends. Lol. It was easier in the summer months wearing clothes that did double duty as both work and work from home clothes. I don’t think I’ll buy a winter nap dress (see above, middle image). They need leggings underneath to be warm enough and why not just wear leggings. Also, they don’t look that practical for midday kettle bell swings, TRX-ing, or Yoga With Adriene.
My newsfeed now is full of ads for soft, comfortable clothes: ethically made in Canada bamboo PJs, cashmere jogging suits, and things called nap shirts. Lately I’ve been seeing ads for enormous fleece lined hoodies. These look perfect for when I am working in the back room and Sarah’s riding her bike on Zwift with the porch door open to the outside and the fan on high. I confess I’m a big fan of fresh air and leaving the door open for dogs. That means my house isn’t toasty warm. The giant hoodies come in family packs. What do you think kids?
I know, I know, all dresses can be nap dresses. You can also nap in just about anything. I’m sure I’ve done it. I’ve regularly napped at work through the years since I often have to stay on campus (back in normal times) for evening events.
But now we are in pandemic times and I’m still working at home, working out at home, and napping at home. I’m starting to make clothing choices that make sense for not much leaving the house.
The nap dress is one answer to what to wear when working at home and napping, because (in my case) very long workdays, inconsistent sleep due to nightmares and pandemic anxiety, and late evening bike races.
Besides, they’re summer dresses and they’re on sale, so I bought one.
“Since sleeping through the night was not happening, I figured an outfit specifically designated for daytime dozing might be just the thing. One could theoretically wear a Nap Dress to bed, but it is decidedly not a nightgown. (For one, it is opaque enough to wear to the grocery store.) It is not the same thing as a caftan, which, though often luxurious, is more shapeless and more grown-up. It is not a housedress, which we tend to associate with older women shuffling onto the stoop to grab the morning paper, the curlers still in their hair. A housedress is about forgetting the self, or at least hiding it under layers of quilted fabric. The Nap Dress, on the other hand, suggests a cheeky indulgence for one’s body, and a childlike return to waking up bleary-eyed hours before dinner.”
Or for more a critical analysis of the trend, read The Uneasy Privilege Of The Daytime Nightgown in which Veronique Hyland talks about the politics of who gets to wear a daytime nap dress during the pandemic. It’s not frontline workers, grocery store clerks, transit workers, and people driving UberEats to pay rent. I used to teach about fashion and I confess if I were teaching about fashion this semester I might give a lecture on pandemic fashion and the nap dress.
I don’t need to know if you don’t like it. I do! Also, yes, I know white is impractical.
Because despite the stereotypes, you don’t need to be stick thin to be a cyclist yet it can be challenging finding clothes that fit. I keep saying to people who say they’ll ride bikes (or go hiking and camping) AFTER they’ve lost weight, that there is no need to wait. Do it now! Yet, the message you get shopping for clothes and gear is that as a larger person this activity isn’t for you.
I’ll have more to say about this in the future. It’s a theme of mine! But for now I want to just take a moment and applaud two recent success stories:
“Diverse populations of women are featured on the brand’s Lookbooks and bibs and jerseys come in a variety of sizes to fit a wide-range of body types. Representation and inclusivity matter to Machines for Freedom and it’s abundantly clear that it’s important to the company ethos.
“I really wanted to change what this sport looked like and to create space for difference and individuality in a sport that values uniformity,” says Kriske. “When we launched, I was very deep into training, often riding 20-plus hours a week and treating it like a part-time job. Yet, I felt like I didn’t fit in, all because I was a curvy woman who valued life and relationships rather than just talking about gear ratios or what new bike I was lusting after. I saw the industry as very flat and superficial, and tailored to folks who ascribed to a very specific, and elite, lifestyle. I wanted to change that, to draw more people in.”
Kriske believes that the sport of cycling has much more to offer riders than tech specs and racing. “There is so much joy, adventure, and confidence that comes from adventuring on a bike. When it comes to storytelling, that is our NorthStar and it’s what has been driving us to broaden our community year after year.”
“Over the last few decades, the outdoor gear industry made innovation after innovation in product designs. Jackets are now waterproof yet surprisingly breathable, tents are so impressively lightweight one might mistake the aluminum poles for bird bones. But you still can’t buy a plus-size hiking backpack.
“When I think about it too much, I get really angry about it,” Jenny Bruso, the self-described queer, fat, femme writer and hiker behind the popular Instagram account Unlikely Hikers told Business Insider.
That’s why backpack maker Gregory’s announcement that they’re releasing the industry’s first line of plus-size backpacks in Spring 2021 is such big news. Finally, hikers and travelers will have size-inclusive backpacks that reflect the diversity of their bodies. And Bruso, whose frustrations with the industry is a driving force behind her activism within it, is partnering with Gregory to develop the line. The release will include more than 20 different plus-size packs across the day hiking, multi-day backpacking, hydration and lifestyle categories.”
The ads in my digital media news feeds know what I’m up to. Which is to say staying at home, working from home, exercising at home, spending time with family, and napping. I’m also dressing differently now my life is one big blur of working, exercising, doomscrolling, eating, sleeping etc.
Enter the nap dress. I swear ads for different versions of this dress make up half of the advertising I see these days.
Rachel Syme writes, “Since sleeping through the night was not happening, I figured an outfit specifically designated for daytime dozing might be just the thing. One could theoretically wear a Nap Dress to bed, but it is decidedly not a nightgown. (For one, it is opaque enough to wear to the grocery store.) It is not the same thing as a caftan, which, though often luxurious, is more shapeless and more grown-up. It is not a housedress, which we tend to associate with older women shuffling onto the stoop to grab the morning paper, the curlers still in their hair. A housedress is about forgetting the self, or at least hiding it under layers of quilted fabric. The Nap Dress, on the other hand, suggests a cheeky indulgence for one’s body, and a childlike return to waking up bleary-eyed hours before dinner.”
In “The Uneasy Privilege Of The Daytime Nightgown,” Veronique Hyland talks about the politics of who gets to wear a daytime nap dress during the pandemic. It’s not frontline workers, grocery store clerks, transit workers, and people driving UberEats to pay rent.
“I can appreciate the aesthetic appeal of a nightgown. I get that they’re comfortable, and who doesn’t crave comfort right now? It’s possible that I’m projecting way too much onto a few yards of fabric. But the nightgown, especially as daywear, strikes me as reactionary. Its evocations of passive Victorian and pre-Raphaelite femininity feel like an uncritical throwback to those eras’ mold of white female fragility. The styling of these images evokes sleeping beauties or Ophelias, or worse, invalids. Fashioning yourself as a tubercular Victorian might once have felt ironic; with millions in the grip of a real pandemic—one that is disproportionately affecting Black and brown communities—it feels Marie Antoinette-at-the-Hameau-level out of touch. And in 2020, the idea of “checking out” and into the seductive world of blameless slumber that the nightgown invites us to, does too. It serves as a reminder that while some people are taking to the streets, others are taking to their beds.”
Unlike Cate, up until the pandemic, I’ve never been much of a work from home person. I’ve been a pretty strict compartmentalizer. In my usual life, I relax at home and work at work (mostly). I wear work clothes at work, gym clothes at the gym, bike clothes on my bike, and PJs (or PJ adjacent yoga pants) at home. A change in clothes signals a change in activity.
But there are no boundaries any more. Life is one big blur of working at home, exercising at home, and relaxing at home. I occasionally look at my shoe collection in puzzlement. Will I ever wear real shoes again? I still have underwire bras hanging off a doorknob, neglected, and I’m wondering why I ever thought they were a good idea. These days only my comfiest of sports bras are in regular rotation.
I do wear earrings once a week or so but that’s just so the holes in my ears don’t grow over.
I’m not wearing anything that requires dry cleaning. And mostly I’m wearing clothes that also do double duty as workout attire. But I’ve now got a broader definition of what that entails. In the blog post #StayAtHome Sam Looks Different I talked about working out in sports bras. That’s still true, especially Zwifting in a heatwave. But I am also doing yoga in machine washable dresses with sports bras and fitted shorts underneath. If it’s hot I whip off the dress.
On a good day I walk Cheddar the dog in the morning, lift weights or use resistance bands at lunch, and either do Yoga with Adriene or Zwift at night. The only bit of specialized clothing I’m wearing are bike shorts and my bike socks. I still have too many bike jerseys but they are not getting much wear.
So now my wardrobe, like my life, has blurred into one or two laundry hampers of clothes. I’m wondering when I go back to working at the office, with people, how much will change? I’m not throwing out the underwire bras and the fancy shoes just yet. But my social media newsfeed is still full of ads for leisure wear and “relaxed, comfort pants.”
What you about? What are you wearing to work out at home? What are you wearing to work at home?
We’ve had our fair share of blog posts about having to defend your boundaries and territory at the gym, the climbinggym, oh, and did I mention the gym? Yeah, it’s a problem. Staring, unsolicited advice, making you feel uncomfortable and like you’re invading a space you don’t belong in… all of it is regularly on the cards for female-presenting athletes. Confronting the starers, mansplainers and territory defenders of our sports spaces is annoying, nerve wracking, and, frankly, often scary.
So, wouldn’t it be great to have a tank top to do the talking for you (like yesterday’s candy hearts! ❤ )? I’m crediting my co-blogger Marjorie with the idea: she came up with it in our FIFI-blogger internal Facebook group. “I’ve been thinking about making a set of gym tank tops with sayings like, ‘I’m not doing it for you,’ or ‘Look somewhere else during your rest periods.'”, she wrote. What a brilliant idea!
I thought about what my own tank top would say and quickly realised I needed a whole set, depending on the occasion and how outspoken I’d be feeling on a given day. “Staring is rude”, “Fit feminist at work”, and “Mind your own business” are just a few ideas that instantly occurred to me. I also asked my fellow bloggers. Here’s the round-up:
“I’m 55 and I can lift you” (Cate)
“Frigger, don’t kill my vibe” (Christine – she’s actually already in possession of said tank top, which is just awesome)
“Fitisafeministissue.com”; “Don’t be that guy” (Tracy)
“Patriarchy got me drove”; “Eat, Sleep, Smash the patriarchy” (Martha) – she also added, “I often think about the marketability of “Do I l👀k like I need your ‘help'”?” and lamented the lack of a sarcasm font to make it feasible.
Sam likes Fit and Feminist (another, sadly now defunct, blog)’s motto “It takes a strong woman to smash the patriarchy”.
“My body, my business” was another entry from Marjorie, and she has actually made one saying “Action Figure” with a woman’s profile in double-bicep pose.
That’s quite a collection already – but how about you? What would your feminist fitness tank top say?
I’m seriously hoping my post motivates athletic wear companies to start making formal wear.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, why can’t we dance the night away at weddings & other formal gatherings without drowning in our sweat? Whether you prefer a snappy suit or a darling dress no one feels great in their getup after even a short stint of enthusiastic dancing.
This year, for the first time in a long time, I had 3 formal occasions in the span of a month and I needed something to wear.
I shopped in dress stores in Canada and the USA to no avail. I wear plus size clothes. I’ve worn pants or skirts or dresses before. My default look is quirky femme who dresses for comfort. Nothing that fit inspired me despite my willingness to put down serious cash on a gown.
I shared my trials and tribulations on social media for comedic effect but also for advice.
There are these formal, uh, onesies? Jumpers? They look cute but to use the toilet you either need to drop the whole thing on the floor or buy one with access snaps.
I couldn’t imagine being in a toilet fumbling with my neither regions so that was not an option for me.
As the first event drew nearer I started to panic. I was certain I wouldn’t be able to find anything that fit, was comfortable, and that I liked.
I happened into Ricki’s, a shop I’d never tried on my sister’s advice to consider a combination of separates instead of a dress.
First winning moment, everything in the store went up to plus sizes. I could actually try on every style in the store. Amazing!
Second there was a sale. Yippee!
Third, there was stuff I liked that was comfortable! Wahoooooooooo!
I ended up buying a super fun glitter stretch knit dress with a cowl back.
I wore that dress to my work formal. No shape wear, just a regular bra and undies. The stretchy fabric meant I was super comfy sitting, eating and dancing. The only downside was it didn’t breathe very well so after a few songs I’d be soaked from dancing. Granted I’m an enthusiastic dancer. I also sweat quite a bit. Honestly though if Under Armor or some other athletic wear company would make high performance formal wear I know a large group of suit and dress wearing humans who would by them!!!
We have money!!
I also scored a really shimmery sequined top and then a mirror calf length cardigan.
I wore pleather leggings with a lace top and the mirrored cardigan to my friends’ wedding. Again, comfy, classy and appropriately attention seeking. Let’s be honest, after the trials and tribulations of finding fun, functional formal wear it’s good to get noticed!
Coming up next is my partner’s work formal. I have at least 3 options that look great, feel good and I can dance in. I’ll get super sweaty but that’s ok.
Have you found formal wear that breathes when you dance? Please tell me about it!