The last time I bought cycling gear was in 2018 or 2019. During the pandemic I cycled indoors and as my shorts and bibs wore out I really didn’t care to replace them. Who would see how ratty or see through? No one!
Fast forward to this year and I recommitted to cycling outdoors. I missed being in the MS Bike Tour. I wanted back on my bike but despite having many jerseys my shorts and bibs were all worn out.
Around Easter I took all my measurements and realized I no longer fit into Garneau gear.
I went to the Internet to find any company that touted larger sizes for cyclists. Many have mountain bike shorts. The ones with a tight chamois shirt inside a baggier Bermuda style short. I wanted roadie gear!
I found an American company, Montella, that touted bigger sizes. 6XL! Surely that would fit?
I mean, my waist was an inch larger and my hips two inches but surely that would be ok? I should have realized the one inch increments on the sizes meant these are tight!
I picked some commuter chamois underwear and a full length bib. I like 3/4 to full length to keep my inner thigh and knees from jiggling.
The package arrived just before I was going on a ride. I was so excited. I ripped into the bag and tried to put them on. I couldn’t even get the bib past my knees. Like. These were laughably too small. I tried the commuting underwear. I took a picture fit for only for a kinky Only Fans. Sorry. Too spicy for this blog!
I cried so hard. I shared my travails with our Fit is a Feminist Issue bloggers. Of course I knew about Fat Lass At The Back gear from the UK but surely I didn’t need to go across an ocean to find gear?
Well I did. The shipping was as fast as coming from the US. According to my measurements I could fit their biggest size 8 XL!
I was super pumped to put on the bib, which the upper is like a mesh tank top. It doesn’t cut in or twist. Very nice design!
I’ve ridden with both the capris and the bib. I fricking love them! I love that they emailed asking how my fit was. I love that the thighs are opaque.
I’ve ridden a few times in both and I’m very pleased with the quality. I think I’m a bit shocked that my body is on the biggest size anyone makes. I’m plus sized but I’m not big, big. I still get a lot of size privilege as I can buy tops in the XXL range. If I needed to go bigger for jerseys or bottoms I would be shit out of luck.
I’m glad I found gear. I’m hoping that more companies will make bigger sizes. Plus sized cyclists are out here waiting to buy your stuff!
CW: Mention of loss and complex family relationships on Father’s Day
Today is Father’s Day in the US, Canada, India, China and a bunch of other countries. When we celebrate it varies, just as it does for Mother’s Day. How we celebrate it varies also, according to community and family traditions, proximity of family members, relationships among family members, and where we are along the family life trajectory. In short, Father’s Day rarely reflects the simplified messages that we see in cards.
For my sister and me, Father’s Day has always been complicated. Our father didn’t teach us how to fish, or play chess, or make a bookcase, or do those things that movie-dads (and maybe some others?) seem to excel at. Our parents went through multiple marriages, resulting in both distance and complexity in family relationships. Father’s Day was, at best, awkward for us. We really didn’t know what to do or celebrate because all the other days of the year didn’t give us a clue about what fathers do for and with their children.
My father died young and a long time ago, making Father’s Day complex in a different way– about regret, loss, and wondering what I had actually missed by having that relationship.
Today, though, I am not feeling that sense of loss. I’ve been visiting my family for the past two weeks, seeing a lot of relatives. I’ve been seeing and hearing about the fathers in my family– uncles and cousins who have been attending to their children in ways they feel like they can and should contribute. From school work to boogie-boarding in the surf, these men are doing what they know how to do and learning how to do what they’re not good at, all geared toward teaching and loving and making the world as safe and wonderful as they can for their kids.
Once I took all this in, I looked around and saw how fathering happens in my family. My sister and I do these things– for each other and for her children. I’m the one who takes the lead on travel plans and outdoorsy activities. I do the major gear-buying (read bikes at every age) and opportunities to use them (rail trails for the win). My sister teaches the kids about money– how to manage it, how to save it– and about living in the world of grown-up things to do (like oil changes, bill paying, house maintenance, etc.)
We also do this for each other, providing structure and security when it’s needed, helping each other learn or get more comfortable or just push through things that are hard. Travel planning isn’t my sister’s forte, but I love it. Doing car things for my car isn’t mine (see? I can’t even word it precisely…) but she helps me, even from afar.
Elizabeth and I agree on the importance of planning ahead, the necessity of contingency/back-up plans, the simple pleasure of dog walking, and the superiority of beaches over mountains (fight us). Beyond that, we help parent each other and her kids in our own inimitable ways.
Dear readers, wherever you are with your father, we wish you a Happy Father’s Day. And wherever you are, we hope you find some ways to let yourself father and be fathered today and all days.
I recently listened to an episode of Adam Grant’s podcast Rethinking, entitled “Life lessons from sports,” featuring Jody Avigran. Avigran is passionate, fast-talking ex-athlete and sports commentator who has a new podcast called Good Sport. This was one TED podcast boosting the signal of another.
Avrigan’s Good Sport podcast is about the deeper meaning of sports. In the Rethinking episode, he says stuff like this:
You’re telling me that the thing that is really fun to do, that like keeps me in shape, […] will also teach me like, how to be a better human and how to like trust others and how to build teams? And like is a place where I can also like, figure out all these things about the real world, which I’m gonna have to go back to anyway at some point?
I am on board with Avrigan’s idea that sports can teach us about how to be good humans, good team players, and a good supporters of others. It’s what FIFI is also about, in my view.
I also found myself interested in Avigran’s focus on not only the brilliance of top-tier athletes but also the communities that nurture athletes, the supporting role that high-impact coaches play, and those who are the keepers of team culture, which Avigran describes as the “glue guy”:
I’m very fascinated, and I like asking athletes of all stripes: who’s actually the person who, who brings you all together? Who’s actually the star in the locker room? You know, they call it “glue guy” […].
To illustrate, Avigran describes the Miami Heat’s Udonis Haslem, and Grant supplies former MBA player Shane Battier, as another example of a glue guy.
And I started thinking: Glue guy. Glue guy. Glue girl? When are these two seasoned podcasters— who are nerding out on the “life lessons” sports teach us—going to give examples of female athletes, female coaches, women’s teams, and gender (diversity) and sports? Why would a 40-minute episode on what sports teach us about ourselves and our world not reference a single person from over half that world? Did Grant or Avrigan even notice how this podcast advertising another podcast would appear so gender unaware?
I scanned the Good Sport episode titles and found one called The Past and Future of Gender in Sport. Okay, that sounds good. But, in 2023, are female athletes and women’s sports teams only mentionable in the solitary “gender in sports” episode, or can we also normalize gender inclusive examples in every episode?
I realize I am drawing conclusions about the enduring gender unawareness of sports media based on a single episode of one podcast and a quick scan of another. But if I want to learn more about glue girls in team sports (which I do), how many podcasts will I have to comb before I find that information?
@samanthabrennan has recommended to me The Gist, and I also found the Women in Sport podcast. FIFI readers, what other inclusive sports podcasts would you recommend?
Error and Update:
I apologize for including in my post an ableist expression to convey my negative view of sports podcasters who fail to include gender and gender diversity. The expression was disrespectful and has been removed. It’s an important reminder to me, as the author writing about the very topic of inclusion in the media, to be vigilant about ensuring that what we (including me) say and write in the public sphere does not exclude or diminish others.
Today I listened to Adam Grant’s Rethinking episode featuring soccer star, author, and podcaster Abby Wombach, which was brilliant and awesome and everyone should listen to it.
On one hand, we can celebrate new gains for representation and inclusion: Martha Stewart has cut through the spandex ceiling, making it possible for “older women” to be cover photo-worthy by Sports Illustrated (SI), a magazine whose annual swimsuit issue authoritatively confers the status of beautiful to its models. As an octogenarian swimsuit model, Martha Stewart brings diverse body image to popular media (and to the news media that reports on popular media).
As well, this development signals a growing acceptance of older women’s sexuality. Martha Stewart has left the kitchen and entered the swimming pool. According to a CBC analysis article, Martha Stewart said on Today that she increased her exercise regime and cut out carbs (but didn’t starve herself) to show that “You can look great at pretty much any age if you put your mind to it.” If Martha Stewart can put her mind (and enormous wealth) towards looking sexually alluring at 81, isn’t that permission for us all?
On the other hand, scholar (and aspiring clairvoyant?) @tracyisaacs might have foreseen Martha Stewart’s gracing of the cover of SI’s Swimsuit issue when she wrote about what she describes as inclusive objectificationhere at FIFI and in The Conversation. Tracy acknowledges that commercializing the sexual attractiveness of a wider spectrum of women’s bodies seems, on the surface, to be a good thing (or at least not harmful one). However, mainstream media, embodied by the swimsuit issue (pun intended),
“continues to promote sexual attractiveness as women’s main currency. […] (It’s) it’s not clear how the swimsuit issue, the very essence of which is to represent a particular type of sexualized bodies, could morph into something that celebrates the body in a different way.”
From this perspective, it may be said that Martha Stewart has escaped one form of traditional female currency (homemaker) to another (swimsuit cover model). SI has shown us that Martha Stewart is worthy of sex appeal, but nothing has fundamentally changed the “relentless message about what makes women worthy,” as Tracy notes.
The CBC analysis article quotes Anna Murphy, who finds it refreshing that Martha Stewart refuses to “age out of the public eye.” (This is a return to modeling for Martha Stewart). But the SI issue heavily suggests that, in order to stay in the public eye, Martha Stewart must, in her own words, continue to “aspire to look great.”
Let’s also note that Martha Stewart doesn’t look great on her own. The are four covers of the same magazine issue —featuring Megan Fox, Brooks Nader, and Kim Petras, singer and transgender model (perhaps the most interesting and progressive choice). So conventional sexy and controversial sexy can remain in the public eye together.
Author of the CBC article, Jenna Benchetrit, concludes her analysis with an unanswered question initially asked by Tracy: “It’s breaking barriers, yes. But are these the barriers we want to break?” We at FIFI have many diverse voices, so I speak for myself when I (and maybe some of we) say no. Or at least, certainly not only.
Another Jenna, Jenna Peterson, happens to answer Jenna B’s question in a humorously memed social media post. Jenna P doesn’t want to continue to “aspire to look great” as she ages. Jenna P sees “aging out” of sexy as precisely what she wants to accomplish.
As a cis-woman who is just over half Martha Stewart’s age, I’m inclined to agree with Jenna P. Aside from discourse of what is “natural” for women (for instance, it doesn’t matter much to me whether or not Martha Stewart has had body modifications), women can transgress their worthiness via sexual objectification…by letting themselves just get (and look) old.
Perhaps Sports Illustrated might have photographed an 81 year-old, swim-suited Martha Stewart emerging from a witchy swamp? Well, maybe next year.
Readers, what perspective do you take on this issue?
I’m a late-diagnosed ADHD person (at 40!), with autistic traits, and a mom of 7-year-old neurodivergent (ND) twins, who are also ND.
As a youth, I struggled to be part of many fitness activities through school and with my peers, as I was excluded and bullied out of most team sports. As with most teachers, my physical education (P.E.) teachers treated me like I was intentionally weird. It was terrible for my mental health.
I was still fit and active; it just looked different from a “standard fitness routine.” I spent a lot of time walking, dancing, cycling, or being a “tourist in my own town.” I did a lot of gardening. Activity was part of life.
As an adult, I’ve reflected on how many exercise routines are based on behaviorism: Rewards, punishments, deprivation, gruelling hours, and misery. So I’ve always felt kind of glad that I wasn’t included in sports whose players trained that way. Behaviorism is the theory on which “conversion therapy” and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) are based; these reward/punishment systems have been and continue to be used to abuse and manipulate people (but that’s a topic for another day.)
In contrast, the ND community is developing healthy, life-integrative tools, resources, and groups to overcome inertia (task paralysis), avoid fatigue, promote “stacking or scaffolding,” and curate activities around what ND folks actually like to do and are already doing.
Non-exercise Activity Thermogenisis [NEAT] is the increase in overall activity in your daily life rather than focusing on workouts a few times a week, which can be unattainable for many ND people due to various reasons including financial, safety, lack of supports, and infrastructure inaccesibility.
Quite often the inaccessibility impacts the people that need it most, where taking a NEAT approach means it’s accessible to everyone. For example, according to NEAT, dancing (especially in your kitchen) can be as good as jogging when it comes to fitness, and because it’s fun you’re more apt to keep doing it! For further description of NEAT, here’s a High Brow description.
Here are some NEAT examples that help me to integrate fitness into my life:
Calling a friend (body doubling) and going for a walk is enjoyable, and we can be in two separate cities while doing it.
Gardening, which is great exercise and good for my mental health.
Volunteering, at a food bank or a library. Lots of heavy lifting and I’m doing some good for the world.
Becoming familiar with self-regulation tools and my own needs/accommodations list (I’m building a printable package right now) and putting them into place to structure more activity, which assists me regardless of my physical or mental health for the day.
Knowing when I need to rest.
It can be challenging for neurotypical people to make exercise more accessible for ND folks. I have a few ideas to consider:
Team sports can be tough for anyone, but it’s especially the case for some ND people with sensory challenges. What supports could be applied in those situations?
Many ND people have other hidden disabilities such as motor skill/coordination disorders like dyspraxia, or connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. What tools would assist in participation?
ND people may face additional challenges, such as Language Processing Disorder, that may not make them seem like good team players. How can you provide more time for folks to process in certain environments?
There are many benefits to having Neurodiversity in sport and fitness activities. ND athletes
are good problem solvers
work well under pressure (ADHD)
are geat at seeing patterns and detecting flaws in opposing teams
help team members to develop new social skills, novel approaches to challenges, and the pride of being in a well rounded group
Many ND people (and people with other disabilities) have spent most of their lives building or finding workarounds and bending “rules” in order to have reasonably functional lives. Their non-linear experiences and creativity has helped the neurotypical and able world to find solutions to various challenges in various places in society.
When a person with a disability requests an accommodation or more accessibility, they need it in order to function, and everyone else benefits, so there’s no good reason not to work with those requests. I’ve noticed as I take my littles through the process of finding sports and other activities, being straightforward with their challenges has opened more doors than it’s closed.
The ND community is actively building more manageable and positive approaches to fitness and health.
NEAT is a great starting point in developing life structures help becoming more active for everyone.
One particular routine isn’t necessary: do what you like and switch up often because variety is the spice of life.
And when you just can’t, that’s okay: listen to your body and mind and give yourself permission to rest. Rest is a basic need. Self-compassion and un-shaming for when you fall off the wagon will help you get back on sooner.
Accommodations and accessibility are necessary to some but beneficial to everyone.
Inclusion in physical activity offers unexpected benefits to everyone.
This post has a lot of different things crammed into it, kind of like an average December day. I tried to make them into a somewhat coherent whole but I’m not sure it worked. Let’s roll with it anyway.
On Day 3 of her 2020 Wellness Calendar, Martha telling us to Remember to Eat. This is another one of the basic that we often let slide during this busy month. We don’t feel like we have time to sit down for a proper meal so we just grab a snack and the next thing we’re cranky and running on empty. While I get that this kind of thing will happen from time to time, please do what you can to prepare in advance. That might look like making a plan about when you will take downtime for meals or it might look like planning for something quick to eat while you are on the run.
Speaking of all the busyness of the month ahead, one of the ways I’d like you to create space for yourself today is by ditching something from your to do list.
I know that sounds like heresy when there is SoVeryMuch to do but that’s exactly why it is a good idea.
Have a look at your to do list -whether that is on paper, on a screen, or in your head and turn your attention either to the list of stuff that you will do ‘if I have time’ or to anything on your list that you are absolutely dreading.
I would like you to ditch (or at least change) one of those things.
Yes, decide right now that you are not going to do it.
If it is something on your ‘if I have time’ list, then you will be able to create a little extra quiet in your brain. You will have one less thing that can float up to fill any downtime you are trying to create for yourself. And you will feel better about not doing it if it is a decision instead of a lack of time.
If it is something that you are dreading but that you really feel needs to be done, I’m wondering if you might be able to pass it on to someone else. Could there be someone in your life who would happily take that on – maybe not exactly in the same way you do but that’s fine too. Perhaps there’s someone you can pay to do it. Maybe you can trade disagreeable tasks with someone else. Or, maybe the task itself can be changed, reduced, or reshaped to make it less dreadful.
And, I realize that in one of the paragraphs above I told you to add something to your to do list (plan for your meals) and then immediately afterwards I told you to ditch something from your list. I stand by that apparent contradiction.
Adding things to your to do list that increase your well-being and your ability to take good care of yourself are more likely to reduce your stress than increase it. Taking good care of yourself increases your capacity to enjoy the rest of the preparations that you choose to include in your month and to keep the things you *must* do in perspective.
When I prepared last year’s Making Space posts I tried to include videos of people with a range of body types and abilities. I was moderately successful but I am determined to improve things for this year.
Since today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities I wanted to be sure to be open about my intention to be inclusive and to invite anyone who reads this to share any videos that they find useful. I don’t always know what search terms to use and I may be missing excellent videos because my vocabulary is limited.
These Making Space posts are not exactly the forum for an in-depth discussion of these issues but since I have your attention, I wanted you to know that the theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world.”
I don’t think that my posts here are at all part of that sort of broad change but hopefully I can at least raise some awareness about today and give some of my readers something to think about.
I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little about disability activism but some things things I do know are 1) every person on earth has the right to live with dignity 2) change depends on listening to those with lived experience 3) any practice, policy, or accommodation that increases accessibility, diversity, and inclusion is a good thing for everyone who makes use of the service/visits the building/ participates in the activity – an inclusive world is a better world 4) inclusive practices are not about catering to anyone or providing special treatment, they are about creating a more just world.
And I think we can all be part of that change by seeking more just and equitable practices in our organizations, workplaces, and daily lives.
Okay, back to the stated purpose of the Making Space 2022 posts: short workouts and meditations to help create space for yourself on your to do list!
If you’re not feeling up to a workout today, perhaps this meditation from Headspace might be just the thing.
However you choose to take good care of yourself today, I wish you ease in the process.
So I’ve joined a fancy gym. You know, the kind with fitness classes you book online using an app, wood paneling, gentle upbeat music in the lobby, and a coffee/juice bar. There are even blow dryers and mirrors with good lighting for getting ready for work after your workout.
I actually appreciate the app but the rest of it isn’t anything I need in a gym. My usual workout spaces are university gyms, the Y, or, for a time, a CrossFit box (as they say.)
I’m there because they have a pool and aquafit classes but also spin classes and hot yoga, a decent weight room, and a sauna and a hot tub. It’s lovely really and I’m spoiling myself during my winter of mostly indoor exercise as I rehab the left knee after surgery and pre-hab the right one before it too is surgically replaced.
One thing about these kinds of mainstream fitness spaces that I find jarring is that they do gender in ways that aren’t usually part of my world.
What do I mean by that?
Well, it’s not just the change rooms.
They also have a women’s fitness room within the gym. It’s not as nice as the main gym. There aren’t as many options. Likely I won’t ever use it. It looks like lots of women do though. But it also means there are fewer women in the general weightlifting area. So a space that can feel male dominated feels even more male dominated because some women opt for the women only space. And then, as a result, more women opt for the women only space. I find that frustrating.
I get that you want to include women who for religious reasons can’t exercise around men but the upshot for the rest of us isn’t positive. And it’s certainly not positive for those people who identify as gender non-binary.
There’s a webcam from the fitness center daycare to the women’s only fitness space that got me wondering about dads who bring their kids to the on-site day care while they work out. It’s like when there are infant change tables only in the women’s washrooms. I’m not sure if there is a web cam of the daycare accessible from the main fitness room or the men’s locker room. My guess is no.
I was happy to see though that the aquafit classes that take place in the women only pool are more gender inclusive. They’re open to women and gender non binary members. There are also ‘open to everyone’ aquafit classes in the regular pool. I’m glad because lots of guys have injuries that could benefit from exercising in the water.
I’ve been feeling more and more that I don’t belong in women only spaces. It’s not that I don’t identify as a woman. I do. But lots of the people I want to spend time with don’t. I don’t want to be in spaces that exclude them. Lots of my friends identify as gender queer or gender fluid or gender non binary and it feels different excluding them than it does excluding cis men.
I’m still thinking lots about this and I’m not sure what this means for me and my future in women only environments. I used to think it was okay as long as they were trans inclusive but that’s no longer enough for me, I think. And it’s not that I don’t think there should be such spaces but I am wondering more and more about my place in them.
To be clear people at home having been using handcycles to ride in Zwift but the virtual bike options didn’t match. And that matters.
Says Zwift in its announcement of the handcycle option, “Zwift is a platform for everyone and our goal is to represent all members of our community within the worlds of Zwift. We hope that the Zwift Handcycle will allow adaptive athletes to have more fun in-game and better represent themselves on the roads of Watopia.”
On the one hand, what’s special or different about women’s feet? On the other, if all running shoes–even women’s running shoes–are based on models of men’s feet, that may be a problem.
I’ve written about gendered cycling shoes in this post here on the blog, Is women’s specific anything just a bad idea? What’s the issue? If women’s cycling shoes are narrower then some men, those with narrow feet, will end up needing to buy women’s shoes. Some women, those with wide feet, will end up buying men’s shoes. But, I asked in that piece, why even bother with the gendered labeling? Why not just call them wide and narrow shoes?
I came to this point because I’m a woman who rides a men’s bike. A men’s bike just fits people with short legs and long torsos better. And guess what? That’s me.
And you know, I wouldn’t think it would bug me but it does. Each time I go to buy a bike someone in a bike shop, or a well meaning friend, recommends a women-specific frame. I have to tell them that it won’t work. As far as bikes go, I’m a dude since all women’s frame means is longer legs WHICH I DON’T HAVE. Grrrr. It’s a very minor exclusion in the grand scheme of things but it grates.
I don’t mind that the men’s and women’s bikes sometimes come packaged with different components and the men’s bike is the better deal.
What about running shoes? How different are men’s and women’s feet really?
“Shoes are designed around foot-shaped molds called lasts, which dictate the fit and feel as well as the aesthetics and proportions. For a long time, those lasts were based only on molds of men’s feet. But “female feet … are not algebraically scaled, smaller versions of male feet, as is often assumed,” a study in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association declared way back in 2009. As a result, more and more brands started using female lasts based on the mold of a woman’s foot. For what it’s worth, some have opted for unisex lasts—an approach Katie Manser, the Supervisor of Research Operations at Heeluxe Footwear, an independent shoe research lab, dismisses. “There’s no such thing as a unisex foot—it’s anatomically a man’s foot or a woman’s foot,” she explains.”
But again, I’m not sure this gets it right. There may not be a ‘one size fits all’ foot but it seems unlikely all women have similar feet, or that the difference between men’s and women’s feet will be larger than the differences between different women’s feet.
The article I shared goes on to describe all of the different ways in which women’s feet differ from men’s but in each case there’s likely lots of variability between women. Also worth noting that some women were assigned male at birth and lots of people don’t identify as male or female at all.
In the end that article acknowledges that it’s not really about gender, it’s about variety and fit.
“The more knowledge you have about your body, the more empowered you are to make a decision regarding what you put on it. At the end of the day, the best shoe for you—no matter your gender—is the shoe that feels most comfortable on your feet. “
The past twelve months of my life have been overflowing with adventures and exciting changes. In May 2021, I began to realize that my beloved London, Ontario community would not be my home forever. But I wasn’t sure what my next steps would look like.
In late August, I hopped on my trusty pedelec (pedal electric assist cycle) loaded with camping supplies and headed north along Lake Huron. At that time I assumed I’d be back in London by November or December, but had no plans set in stone.
In mid-October, I was biking from Wikwemikong to Manitowaning when I snapped a milestone photo showing 1200km on my trip odometer. Although I continued on to Kagawong & Ice Lakes afterwards via a bus-bike combo, in many ways it marked the end (or at least nearly the end) of my first bike camping adventure.
A week later I was supposed to catch the last ferry of the season back to Tobermory… but I didn’t want to leave. In the short time I’d been on Manitoulin, I had already begun to feel a sense of belonging. Community care, breathtaking beauty, and changing scenery around every corner make Manitoulin a place unlike any other that I came across in my travels.
Several weeks of stealth bike camping increased my comfort with making decisions based on rapidly changing contexts, rather than trying to plan everything in advance. Manitoulin feels like where I need to be during this season of my life. So I took a leap and unexpectedly moved to Northern Ontario via bike camping!