“Those of us trying to be more active who don’t fit society’s image of what “health and wellness” looks like can often feel excluded. While the fitness industry has made strides in recent years, shopping for activewear can still prove challenging at times. I mean really, how can any of us be expected to start hitting the gym when it’s a challenge to even find workout gear that fits us? The double standard has been weighing on a lot of us for a really long time. But Athleta’s latest push for inclusivity is moving the needle forward.”
“There’s no denying that a lot of work needs to be done to make fitness a happier, more fulfilling relationship for women everywhere, of any size. For so many women, diet culture has morphed movement from a joyful activity to an unsatisfying means to an end. Not only can this rob exercise of fun, but it also continues to make women (myself, included) feel pulled to move for the sake of shrinking ourselves. Luckily, there’s a growing movement of incredible women and initiatives leading the charge towards change. Through their own journeys of rejecting diet culture’s influence over fitness and embracing their bodies, they’ve nurtured a healthier relationship with movement that’s inclusive of all shapes and (finally) filled with fun.”
“In our own research, we argue that wearing activewear in public is a way of saying “I am in charge of my health” and conforming to socially acceptable understandings of femininity. In this sense, activewear (not to be confused with its less sporty “athleisure” offshoot) has become the uniform of what we might term the “socially responsible 21st-century woman.” Part of the appeal of activewear is that it is comfortable and functional. But it has also been designed to physically shape the body into a socially desirable hourglass female form.”
“This week activewear brand, Superfit Hero, announced that they will phase out their smallest sizes – extra-small, small and medium – in favor of extending their size run through 7X permanently. The change starts with their newest collection, also released this week, which includes sports bras, leggings, and shorts in sizes 12 through 42. CEO Micki Krimmel said in a statement that this decision came after extensive research that focused on the unique needs of plus-size athletes. During interviews, customers described many of their shopping experiences as “traumatic,” stating that “lack of access, inconsistent sizing, and ill-fitting, low-quality garments” led to a feeling of disenfranchisement. She says Superfit Hero wants to solve this problem.”
“Me, I like their yoga pants and I guess I hope companies can change. We’re all works in progress, even Lululemon. And yes, capitalism and yes, co-opting. But there’s no pure path. This is the world we live and work in.”
And now you plus sized friends can have them too. Wow.”
They’ve gone from saying that their clothes don’t work for larger bodies to selling clothes designed for larger bodies to appointing one of my fave plus sized fitness spokespersons as a brand ambassador. That’s a pretty big shift.
“The athletic apparel brand has tapped ultramarathoner, author, speaker and former Fat Girl Running blogger Mirna Valerio to front its new global “Feel Closer to Your Run” campaign and offer better representation of runners whose body types are typically overlooked within the fitness space. The Vermont-based Valerio tells Yahoo Life that she hopes to inspire and empower both people who have felt excluded by activities like running, and the brands that have the power to provide better quality gear for bigger bodies.
“Make no mistake: All kinds of people in all sorts of bodies want to be able to engage in movement that is meaningful to them, and they need apparel that fits, is functional and well-made,” Valerio says. “There was this prevailing idea that plus-size folks didn’t do or want to do things like running, cycling, swimming, etc. But guess what? We’ve always done those things and have had to contend with ill-fitting apparel — because we’ve been forgotten and ignored — poorly constructed clothing that is not fit for any athletic activity, or if they do fit, pieces in limited colors and styles.”
Never has a post attracted so many likes/comments as this one on our Fit is a Feminist Issue Facebook page. I asked some of our readers if I could share their comments. Mostly, as a group, they weren’t convinced by Lululemon’s efforts at inclusivity.
Whitney writes, “No thanks, Lulu! Not only are their sizes not inclusive, their clothing is prohibitively expensive!”
“Love her but I abhor lululemon and everything they represent is antithesis to this. I hope she gets loads of money out of them and carries on then continuing with her work leaving them in the dirt,” says Sivapraya.
Jessy says, “Well that’s quite a change from the ripping pants at the crotch because “some women shouldn’t wear their clothes” (not verbatim but we get the point).”
Marlena says, “Yaaaaas Mirna is a goddess, so glad to see her being featured by larger and larger outdoor/athletic companies!”
And I think we can all agree about that.
Me, I like their yoga pants and I guess I hope companies can change. We’re all works in progress, even Lululemon. And yes, capitalism and yes, co-opting. But there’s no pure path. This is the world we live and work in.
And I’m happy that the world now contains this billboard.
What do you think?Share your opinions in the comments.
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.
Nat’s post about walking in the rain prompted me to take action. Now, I’m no Nat. I meet my very modest step goal most days but I try not to care. My Garmin watch gives me fireworks when I’ve met my step goal and I smile at this little mini celebration but when it asks me to increase my goal, I decline.
About eight months ago I wrote a post about the wonders of walking that asked what if you can’t walk. I can walk but not very far with my damaged, waiting to be totally replaced, knee. There are still reasons to walk, even it hurts, and lots of studies show that walking won’t make the situation worse.
So I do walk a fair bit still thanks to Cheddar the dog but increasing my step count isn’t among my fitness goals.
But Nat’s post inspired me in another direction, the direction of dry feet and dressing for the weather. Like Nat, I’m well kitted out for winter. I have all the gear I need to stay warm on my fat bike, on snow shoes, or while walking Cheddar in January. But rainy weather? Not so much.
I don’t mind winter when it’s here. In January the days are getting longer, there’s snow to play in, and often there’s sun. But November? Ugh. Dark, cold and often rainy, November is my toughest month. I’m on record as hating November.
Given the pandemic, I don’t need any extra anger or resentment in my life. I need to make friends with November. First step, getting better rain gear. I’ve got an excellent rain coat that I bought while on sabbatical in New Zealand. But I don’t have good rain boots. My calves are too wide for traditional knee high rain boots.
The boots needed to be bright and cheerful, because November. And short, because calves.
Here was my short list of choices:
In the end I chose the Pride boots. I thought seriously about the pink fishing boots but they aren’t available in my size.
But I need to tell you a thing I love about the Pride boots. They’re available in two different kinds of sizes, wide and narrower. Not men’s and women’s.
I’ve written before about gendered sizing, about lady backpacks and women’s bikes, and why they drive me up the wall. Why not just wide shoulders, or long torso? Why tie things to gender even they’re not about gender at all? If some men fit women’s boots and some women need men’s boots, then it isn’t really about gender, is it?
Thks. Hunter boots for getting it right.
Now, assuming they fit, these boots likely aren’t enough to make me love November when it gets here. But I just have tolerate November and likely I will tolerate it better with dry feet.
Thanks for the prompt Nat.
Enjoy your walks with Michel and Lucy. Cheddar and I will be thinking of you!
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?
Have you ever stopped to fix a flat? Have you ever tried to put a dropped chain back on?
CLEARLY NOT. Because if you had you’d realize that of all the colours for a bike dress, white is just not on.
I realize you don’t have to do what I tend to do–wipe bike grease off on my black bike shorts–but still. Even for the most fastidious of cyclists–say one who carries wet wipes for wiping their hands (here’s looking at you Martin!), white isn’t a colour that works.
I’m not sure what makes this a bike dress. Almost any dress can be a bike dress. Like the nap dress. I’m sure it has special features that make it bike friendly but still, no matter how good those features are, they are overruled by the not very bike friendly colour.
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.
Even amidst all the COVID news and political strife news and racial injustice news and climate disaster news, sometimes there’s a bit of a lull. In that lull, journalists are searching for something, anything to write about that will satisfy our perceived need for news all the time.
Enter bike shorts as proposed fashion item.
The New York Times eagerly reports the latest pairings of the humble bike short with high-fashion runway looks:
So maybe bike shorts were always destined to have a moment in the summer of 2020. But as with 1,000-piece puzzles and sourdough bread, quarantine has given them new appeal: Bike shorts are a comfortable, practical item of clothing that can seamlessly transition through the vague shifts between work, exercise, worry and rest that characterize a life spent mostly at home.
Depending on whom you ask, bike shorts are an enlightened choice for the times or a tumble into a life of permanent sartorial laziness. Either way, they work.
The article burbles on:
Bike shorts, on the other hand, walk that careful line between loungewear and actual clothing. Plus, some have pockets. The fact that they are comfortable and form-fitting makes her feel tucked in and dressed, [an Instagram influencer] said.
Tess Gattuso, a 27-year-old writer and comedian in Los Angeles, took it a step further. “I think they’re super sexy,” she said. “I need that excitement in quarantine.”
Sexy? Exciting? Bike shorts? Do I detect just a tiny bit of an overreach here? I get it– it’s mid-August. Even in the middle of these unbelievable times, there’s just less to report on. And people have to make a living. So okay– bring on the bike shorts.
I might add that this is not the first time the New York Times covered a high-fashion/humble activewear collabo with such enthusiasm. In early summer 2019, they wrote about how Tevas (the utilitarian sandal) all of a sudden got cute, courtesy of pairing up with fancy designers and fancy clothing manufacturers.
The article is quick to acknowledge that they know these shoes aren’t cool, but their uncoolness, when worn by cool people, rehabilitates them:
Tevas — often grouped with Birkenstocks, Dansko clogs, Uggs and Crocs as “ugly shoes” — are popular in part because of their outsider status. “There’s something so normal about them that if you’re a fashion person and wear them it’s kind of funny and cool,” said the stylist Kate Young, whose clients include Selena Gomez and Sophie Turner, in an email. But that doesn’t rule out genuine appreciation for their functional design: Ms. Young wears Tevas in the summer while camping and swimming in streams with slippery rocks.
“They were way too crunchy for me when I first saw them. Lately they hold this sort of nostalgic minimal sport appeal for me,” she said.
I’m not sure what “nostalgic minimal sport appeal” means. Let me just say that I don’t need nostalgia for Tevas. I can just look down.
Honestly, I think it’s fun when designers take a humble piece of everyday wear and elevate it or incorporate it into something new and creative. What is less appealing is when wearers of the new-new-fashion item feel the need to distance themselves from those of us who’ve been wearing the aforementioned everyday item, well, everyday, and doing just fine.
Long live bike shorts and Tevas!
Hey readers– what items of clothing do you wear that you noticed have become fashionable, or become un-fashionable? I’d love to hear from you.
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.”