accessibility · clothing · fashion

Leggings are for life, says Sam (#leggingscanbepants, #leggingsforlife, #feministfashion)

Image result for leggings pants fighting humour

Readers know that I’m not a big fan of pants.

My main complaint is sizing. If they fit my thighs and calves, they’re enormous at the waist. See Finding clothes to fit athletic women’s bodies.

But also if I gain or lose even as little as 5 lbs, they don’t fit. So I end up with a range of sizes to cover a very small range of difference in weight.

And don’t get me going on the leg length thing. I usually have to hem pants which adds $10 or so to their price. Men’s pants seem to come in a variety of lengths but women, I guess, are all the same height.

Also don’t get my going on jeans, especially skinny jeans, which they all are on me. Aside from my yoga jeans, I might be done with jeans.

Last year I went on a leggings binge, trying lots of different kinds to find the perfect pair of plain black leggings for everyday use. I tried the full gamut from Lululemon (on sale!) to Hue to Joe Fresh. The price range was $90 (Lululemon, on sale) to $20 (Joe Fresh). The Lululemon are fine for yoga but too athletic for everyday. I’m not a big fan, especially given the price. The Joe Fresh were fine for PJs and hanging about the house but not really for work.

In the middle were the Hue leggings which I had great hopes for since I like their tights. But it wasn’t to be. They share the pants problem. The large isn’t stretchy enough for my legs. The XL falls down pretty much right away.

When friends who play roller derby recommended a Canadian brand I was intrigued. They’re also middle of the road price wise. And made in Canada.

ZENITH Leggings

Nice. I’m trying not buy stuff made in countries with sketchy labour laws. See this post for my call for ethical fashion. I struggle with sports clothes in particular.

Even without the “made in Canada” bonus point, they were my favourite. I’m setting out now to order more. They are high waisted, they stay up, and they work for either the gym or the office.

(For working out in my favorite leggings are by SuperfitHero, available in a very wide range of sizes.)

Why I am blogging about leggings now? My knee brace, above. That’s my snazzy custom fit, zero pain knee brace. But it’s causing a bit of a fashion crisis. It needs to be tight against my legs. I can either wear skirts and tights or leggings. No pants. Well, I could wear really wide leg pants and wear it under I guess. That’s what men do. But that’s not my thing.

Dresses and skirts need to fall either above the brace (very short) or below (very long). With short skirts I’m happiest in leggings so that’s what I am doing these days

So now I’m one of those people wearing leggings for all of the things.

Until summer (if it ever comes) and then I’m back to bike shorts under skirts.

aging · body image · fashion · fitness · swimming

Guess which body shaming phrase Sam doesn’t ever want to hear again?

As you are likely sick of hearing by now, I’m on a cruise ship in French Polynesia. We’re currently anchored just off Bora Bora. I think it’s trademarked as the most beautiful island in the world but it’s also the most developed and touristy of the places we’ve visited. It’s known as the honeymoon capital of Polynesia. That might be a reason to pick another island to visit if you’re not honeymooning though we weren’t inundated with honeymooners at our end of the island.

It’s a big deal for me, this holiday. I don’t usually do big vacations. I think this is the longest holiday of my life. It’s certainly the most luxurious. (Thanks best sister-in-law in the world, thanks again.)

One of the things I really like about this cruise ship experience is that it’s not just North Americans onboard. There are loads of Australians, Canadians, also a lot of Europeans. There are a lot of different languages being spoken over breakfast.

But that makes for some interesting cultural differences across a range of areas including bathing suit choices. Some of the older American women are wearing what look like cute beach dresses. I’ve written about these before when I considered buying one but decided not to in the end. I’ve stuck with my standard issue athletic bikini through the years.

Blue sky with some clouds, lush tropical forest and a beach. Also, Sam in a blue and black two piece bathing suit.

The Australians, older Australians anyway, are not so modest. Ditto the French and the Germans. There are much older men and women of all shapes and sizes wearing fairly minimal swimwear. String bikinis and speedos all round. Who cares right? Exactly. Personally, I think it’s great.

Now we could each all do our own thing without comment. You do you! Nice beach dress! Cute string bikini! That’s my preference. But no. There’s always one person who uses my most hated body shaming phrase, “we don’t need to see that.” See here for my last blog post about it!

Often the phrase is accompanied by further editorial comment meant to make it clear that it’s not that no one could ever wear such a bathing suit, you know, it would be okay if they were younger, thinner, more fit, whatever.

I’m not a person who argues with other people I don’t know on small boats. But I kept thinking of replies. My mother’s reply: Don’t like it, then don’t look. Simple. Or my own thought, I don’t think she’s dressing for you. Or how about just, that’s bullshit.

Now this year, this time, I don’t think they were talking about me and my bikini. I’m hoping I can maintain my “that’s bullshit” attitude when it is. Because I plan to keep wearing a bikini into my 60s, 70s, and beyond. See you at the beach!

clothing · fashion · fitness

Ethical sportswear and the true cost of fashion

So for the last few years I’ve been teaching a class on Feminism and Fashion. The section on the ethics of fashion has started to hit home. Like the ethical problems posed by eating meat it hits a lot of different bases: the environment, sweatshops and unjust labor practices, affluence and excess…

I was reminded of it again when this story made the rounds: No one wants your used clothes

The rise of “fast fashion” is thus creating a bleak scenario: The tide of secondhand clothes keeps growing even as the markets to reuse them are disappearing. From an environmental standpoint, that’s a big problem. Already, the textile industry accounts for more greenhouse-gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined; as recycling markets break down, its contribution could soar.

Mostly I’ve made the shift to only buying clothes made in North America. Like my decision to not eat meat, it’s a rule that’s straightforward. In both cases I can see making the case for exceptions. There are clothes made elsewhere with fair labour practices, just like there are better and worse farms in terms of the treatment of animals.

But the easiest rule, the one that requires the least amount of research, thinking, and willpower, is to stick to clothes made here.

I do buy used clothes from anywhere in the world. I’d also buy used fur for similar reasons.

So I shop locally, I’m more selective, and I pay a bit more. Fine.

There are exceptions. One notable one, relevant to the blog, is active wear. Cycling clothes are pretty much all made overseas. Ditto clothes to wear to the gym.

I discovered SuperFit Hero a few years ago and that solved some of the problem. But they don’t make all the things I want.

How about you? Where do you buy athletic wear? Do you worry about where it’s made? What’s your approach?

fashion

From bike dresses to swim dresses? Sam mulls them over but decides against

Four years ago I blogged about running skirts (I’m not a fan)  and this year I blogged about bike dresses (I recently bought one). I guess as a result of all the related googling other kinds of active wear skirts and dresses have made their way into my social media newsfeed.

The latest is the swimming dress.

Here’s my favourite of the lot.

On the plus side, it’s cute. And while it doesn’t look like a great choice for actually swimming in, that doesn’t matter so much at the beach. Lots of the time at the beach you’re not actually swimming. You’re sitting around making sandcastles, playing frisbee, finding snacks, collecting shells, reading books, and so on. Also, the nice thing about dresses, as opposed to bikinis, is that with less skin exposed there’s less of you to sunscreen. And swim dresses might get some women out to the beach who wouldn’t otherwise go. All good.

There’s a big wide world of beach dresses out there. Some, like the one I like, are targeted at women hanging at the beach with kids, dogs, and friends. The motivation seems to be cute and comfortable. Also, less worry about holding your tummy in all day.

Others are definitely targeted to women who’ve had skin cancer and they feature high necks and full leg and arm coverage 

Still others are targeted at those women who observe modesty norms for religious reasons.

There are lots of different reasons to show less skin.

And yet….

For me, I’ve worked hard to be comfortable at the beach in a bikini. Many years ago, younger thin aspring me held out the bikini as an example of the sort of thing I couldn’t wear yet but that I could wear once I’d lost enough weight. Once I realized that wasn’t going to happen and that life is really very short, I started wearing them, also cute dresses and short skirts.

Sometimes I fling on shorts and a t-shirt over the bikini if I’m running around lots at the beach but mostly I hang out in my two piece bathing suit.

And the thing is I think if I started wearing swim dresses, pretty soon that’s all I’d wear at the beach. I’d be part of the crowd of fifty something women who stop wearing bikinis because they’re too old. Bye bye bikinis, bye bye cute dresses next, and definitely bye bye mini skirts.

I also keep thinking of the fight by early feminists for women to have the choice not to wear dresses to the beach.

So I think I won’t buy a swimming dress, as cute as they are.

I’m going to be that fifty something woman in her bikini.

This is just about me, my life history as a beach going person, and about my tendencies and approach to life. You do you, of course. No judgements here 

(Oh, and there’s also beach leggings if dresses aren’t your thing.)

How about you? Do swimming dresses hold any appeal? Why/why not?

fashion · fitness · weight lifting

Moving from involved to committed

By MarthaFitat55

Image shows two bent tubes of neoprene fabric in black with red accents
Martha’s new gear! Image shows two bent tubes of neoprene fabric in black with red accents

What’s the difference between being involved and being committed? The business fable uses bacon and eggs to explain: the pig is committed, while the hen is involved.

When we talk about fitness, it’s a bit of both. This week, I made the leap from involved to committed. I bought a pair of knee sleeves.

For the last three years, my fitness clothing has been nothing fancy. I originally started with a pair of ratty yoga pants and a tee shirt. Then I graduated to a pair of capris found on the sale rack.

Occasionally when it gets superwarm in the gym during the summer, I rescue one of my old rowing tanks. And while I’ve always invested in good footwear, when a friend offered a pair of deadlift shoes at a discount, I bought them to save her the hassle of returning them. Luckily they turned out to be a good fit, and if I ever decided to stop lifting, they could probably work for something else.

So my approach to workout gear has been minimal at best; involved if you like.

But these knee sleeves are the first thing I have thought about, tried out, and decided to expend the funds necessary for me to have my very own pair so I can lift well and with the proper support.

That’s because these sleeves are simply miraculous, and I don’t use that word lightly.

This winter, my trainer and I have been working on developing greater depth for my squats. I have a regimen of exercises to strengthen my hips, and over time, I have been able to drop lower and lower.

It’s been all good. Except when I watched videos of fabulous women lifters getting their “ass to grass” in squats, I admit I felt a wee bit jealous.

During a cold spell last month, my knees became cranky. My trainer suggested I try the sleeves when we reached higher weights on the bar. I borrowed a pair for the session, and I did not want to give them back. As I worked my way through the sets, I began scheming how these sleeves would be mine.

Since I like the owner, I decided they should stay where they belonged. I did borrow them again a couple of times to be sure they were as good as they felt the first time, and this week, I went online and committed.

The sleeves provide a level of support I did not think was possible, and yet, when I wear them during squat sessions, I have no hesitation standing up after dropping down. Though they are working on the knees, the sleeves send a message to my hips that the knees are in charge and stability is the goal. And while I’m not as close to the level as I see on the training videos, I am achieving very creditable squats that pass the form test quite well for depth and control.

I see you grass and I am coming for you.

— Martha lifts and writes in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

body image · clothing · fashion · fitness

Not about our health, not really, not at all actually

So Nike introduced plus sized clothing, and that’s good. A bit late, but still a good thing.

Ragen Chastain writes, “Nike makes clothes for sports and physical activity. They figured out that they could make those clothes to fit fat people, and the Nike plus size line was (finally) born. As someone who has been both fat and an athlete for as long as I can remember, I would just like to say — it’s about damn time. To be clear, this line has size limitations. Most items go up to 3x, and the sports bras only go up to a 38. But it’s progress.”

And then there was a backlash, not good at all.  Lots of awful stuff was said about Nike encouraging people to be fat.

Again Ragen writes, “If these trolls would prefer that I work out naked, I have no problem with that (except maybe for the chaffing). But somehow, I doubt that would please them either. What they are looking for is a world where fat people live in shame — hiding in our houses, unable to participate in a world that, if they had it their way, wouldn’t accommodate us at all.”

What’s striking about the backlash is how much vitriol there was aimed at people who wear pus sized workout clothing,

See Nike Backlash Proves It’s Not About Fat Peoples’ Health.

I shared Ragen’s story on our Facebok page and our community responded. With permission I share their comments here.

“I think it’s worth noting too how much shade we get when we try to work out in public places. Straight sized people seem to be offended when I work out near them. Or sit beside them on the subway, or eat near them. Or exist.”

“I don’t really get this. I mean, I get making clothes for larger people – I’ve suggested as much to a few lines of athletic clothing (it’s an untapped market! Why wouldn’t you?), but I don’t get why people care so much about what other people do with their bodies. Don’t they have their own to worry about?”

“When I lost weight about 6 years ago I went to the gym every day. I wanted to look good and be comfortable, which made going to the gym easier. Working out in daggy stretched pants and an oversized shirt that absorbed the sweat didn’t cut it. Kudos to Nike for meeting this need.”

“They hate fat people and want us to be unhappy or ashamed. Nothing new here.”

“People hate fat and fat people so viscerally it’s actually terrifying.”

“Because then they might have to look at us? How dare we befoul public spaces with our bodies!”

Thanks everyone! 

Like many of you, I don’t get the hate. I mean, I get it. I’m sometimes the recipient of it. I wrote about being yelled at for being a fat woman on a bike in this blog post.

But I’m an unreasonably cheerful, resilient person and I reset to my default of expecting good from other people each time after something like this happens. When it happens again, I’m surprised anew.

How about you? What’s your reaction to the negative response to Nike?

 

 

fashion · feminism

Sam has mixed feelings about sports dresses but loved axe throwing in a skirt

It’s spring and my social media newsfeed is full of ads for summer clothing. But it’s me, and lots of it is sports related. So many beautiful bike jerseys!

But this year, there’s a new thing there, cropping up from time to time, the sporty dress. I confess that often my dress wearing ways (see biking in a dress and I hate pants) are at odds with my resistance to normative femininity.  For a taste of that, go read my running skirts post.

Basically I don’t like being told how I ought to dress. And often, for women, being told how you ought to dress involves skirts and dresses. When I dipped my toes into journalism as a career, women still had to wear skirts or dresses in the parliamentary press gallery. As a young punky person I had to carry a skirt in my back pack if I planned to visit.

School uniforms were the same. I’ve blogged here before about being taught by nuns. That certainly required skirts.

I’m the kind of person who couldn’t live in a suburb with rules. You know, the kind of place that has rules against clotheslines, and wildflowers, and funny coloured house paint and leaving your garage door open. I’d move in and right away paint every wild colours, plant all the flowers, and hang up scandalous underwear in plain sight. You know the type. That’s me.

So what about the sporty dresses!

Here’s an example.

A woman with hair tied back, wearing glasses, and a pink flowered dress is walking her bike. From https://nuu-muu.com/collections/xlent
Image description: A woman with hair tied back, wearing glasses, and a pink flowered dress is walking her bike.

Like these skirts, which I also like and even tried on several times over the winter, I can’t decide if they are about warmth and function or butt modesty. And if the former, I’m all in, and if the latter, I’m a bit uncomfortable.

Image description: Women's Rocket Skirt Black/Gray
Image description: Black sporty skirt with zippers., from Garneau, https://garneau.com/us/en/women/new-products/jupe-rocket-femme/color/black-grey-251-191%20can’t%20decide

 

On the one hand, so cute!

On the other, I want to reject norms about women not being to be show our bodies and especially as a larger person (Fat or big?) who is mostly comfortable with her size, I like opportunities to express that. (yes, I love wearing bikinis, stretch marks, tummy rolls and all.)

Okay, I’ll keep mulling about sports dresses and butt-warming skirts, but I know one thing for sure. I love throwing axes in a skirt! (We were encouraged to wear plaid and this is the only plaid item I own.)

I think it’s skirts and dresses in rebellious contexts I like best. Prom dress rugby! Fishnets in roller derby!

Oh, also I’ll wear pants on June 11. It’s Wear the Pants Day.

skirt

 


What do you think of sporty skirts and dresses? Love/hate/to each their own?