See also The Olympics Don’t Want Black Women To Win. Taryn Finley writes, “Sha’Carri Richardson, Christine Mboma, Beatrice Masilingi and others have been disqualified in the 2021 Olympics because of policies that are racist and unjust. There is no grace for for Black women at the 2021 Olympics.”
And then there’s this tweet which also lists the issues.
I know that some people want to say that these issues have nothing in common, that it’s not about race, it’s about rules that don’t mention race, but one thing all the cases have in common is that they target Black women Olympic athletes.
Ditto the swim cap story. There’s a lot of commentary that says competitive athletes would never wear such a swim cap since it would slow them down. Maybe that’s true. But if it puts someone at a competitive disadvantage, it’s hard to see why they’d be banned at the Olympics. It’s hard not to reach the conclusion that race is a factor and that the normative ideal of the Olympic athlete is white, in addition to being conventionally gendered.
On our Facebook page last week, Nicole shared a tweet about pricing and plus sized clothes. We both thought it was an interesting observation. Wow, the reaction. We had more than 800,000 people view the link on our page and thousands react to it. We had a lot of mean people come by and visit and make nasty comments about women’s bodies. Nicole put the “delete comment and ban user” button into overdrive. Cate asked, who are these people? Answer: They’re just people on the internet. Anybody can view our content–it’s not private or a closed group– though only people who “like” it get it in their news feed.
Amid all of that there was actually a more constructive debate between actual feminists, some of whom sew and design clothes for a living, about whether it makes sense to charge more for different sizes and what that line should be. If you want to have that discussion, feel free to use our comment section below where we do moderate comments.
When the flames had run their course on the Facebook page we took the post down there.
Drama! But it did get us thinking about sizing.
I want to share my beef these days with companies aspiring to be more inclusive. My beef isn’t with companies charging more though lots of companies do do that. My gripe is when they don’t have the full range of sizes in their actual stores so plus size shoppers can’t try the clothes on and have to order online. It’s hard not to feel insulted that they don’t actually want you in their store.
We’ve all heard of French shops where the turnstile to admit customers won’t let anyone in whose size is in the double digits. Or I’m reminded of being told by my high school boyfriend’s older brother that I could sunbathe but not in the front yard as I’d bring down the property values. Ugh.
Let’s not go any further down that road.
In the spirit of Link Round Up Friday, here’s lots more to read about size inclusivity:
“As more and more brands chase the illusion of being inclusive for the sake of sales, terms like “size inclusive” and “plus size” are being vastly misrepresented and mis-used causing confusion for shoppers. And, don’t get me started on the poor representation of models on their websites and marketing further confusing consumers on how these garments will fit their body type! Picking a single, slightly thicker woman to be the token representative of an entire demographic whom, she herself, doesn’t even wear a plus-size to begin with IS NOT the solution – you aren’t fooling me!! FASHION INDUSTRY – STOP STOP STOP perpetuating these lies – your fat-phobia is showing.”
“If you have the right clothes, you can bike on a 25-degree day, as long as there’s no ice on the road. (Not to mention, wearing a mask actually helps with the cold air.)
As a woman who wears an XL or 2XL, it’s difficult to find biking gear from boutique brands. Sure, you can go on Amazon and find gear that goes up to 2XL or 3XL—I bought my favorite winter tights for $35 on Amazon—but I’d much rather support a smaller, made-in-the-USA business run by women.
Bike jerseys are designed to be longer in the back to keep you covered while you’re riding, and they have pockets for gloves or a water bottle. Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of smaller cycling brands that sound fantastic on paper—women-run, extended sizes, and with “inclusive,” “empowering” messaging—but then when you get to the website, you see that there’s a limited plus-size selection, or major price hikes for larger sizes.
“Sizing in the plus-size range continues to perpetuate fatphobia by not only [excluding] extended sizes but also not allowing sizes to have the same selection,” Satasia Brown, a procurement specialist, states, referring to when a brand carries a plus-size collection that is a less inspired version of the straight-size selection. “Even when items are designed for fat bodies, companies still don’t allow inclusivity when it comes to sizes above 24. If brands are making the effort to extend items in a 2X/3X, then why not extend the [option to even higher] sizes?”Although more and more brands are expanding size ranges, the majority of labels stop at size 24/26. This absence feeds into the notion that certain bodies and sizes are more desirable and acceptable than others. It also gives less access to super fat folx.
“If you want to do any outdoor activity beyond a basic trail walk — hike a mountain, climb a V12, run a rapid, ride a bike — you need gear that keeps you safe and protected against the elements. And if you’re under a size 12, you probably think the biggest obstacle between you and that technical gear is its cost. I know I did.
But if you’re a mid- or plus-size person you know the real barrier is simply finding durable hiking pants, insulated jackets, PFDs — hell, even just a sports bra — that fits your body and keeps up with your adventures.”
“Years of body negativity brought on by the latest fad diet or fitness craze have made my relationship with exercise a rocky one. Growing up, I was surrounded by “Beach Body” boot camps and personal training programs that signified largeness as something to be lost. But, years later in adulthood, I found positivity in hiking and a sense of calm in yoga flows. I discovered that breaking a sweat could be an enjoyable escape instead of about how many calories I might burn. Since I spent so much time feeling like physical activity was a punishment, I didn’t jump to spend my money on new fitness clothes — plus, options for plus-size retailers who do it right were already limited which made finding quality brands with inclusive activewear tricky. But, as the industry began to acknowledge bigger bodies, well-made and fashionable options started to emerge in the plus-size activewear space. And, I was lucky enough to receive a handful of such styles from the most popular brands to try on myself for size, fit, and feel.”
“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.”
Do you have a thing you’re weirdly fascinated by even though you have zero desire to do it yourself? The desire to climb Mt Everest is a bit like that for me. I don’t get it on many levels. The high cost, the role of sherpas, and the environmental impact are all things that worry me. But I especially don’t get it this year, during a global pandemic. I do understand how the loss of income affects Nepal and those who make their living on the mountain. What I don’t get is the desire of climbers to go now.
Here are some links for those interested in reading about Everest and those who climb it:
“With those caveats in mind, here are some stats. In 2008, a team led by anesthesiologist Paul Firth published an analysis in the British Medical Journal of 192 deaths among more than 14,000 Everest climbers and Sherpas between 1921 and 2006. Of that total, 59 percent of the deaths were attributable to trauma either from falls or hazards such as avalanches. In 14 percent of the cases, the bodies were never found so details are unknown. The remaining 27 percent are the most interesting ones, attributed to non-trauma causes like altitude illness and hypothermia.
When you restrict the data to the 94 people who died above 8,000 meters, some interesting details emerge. Even among those who fell to their deaths, many were described as showing signs of neurological dysfunction, such as confusion or loss of balance. This is significant, because altitude illness comes in several forms. The mild version is acute mountain sickness (AMS), which mostly just manifests as feeling like crap. The two more serious versions, either of which can be fatal, are high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE, meaning swelling in the brain) and high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE, or swelling in the lungs).”
“Nepal’s coronavirus outbreak, which is growing faster than almost anywhere else in the world, has spread to the remote Himalayas, with an increasing number of climbers testing positive after being evacuated from the base camps of Mount Everest and surrounding peaks.
In recent weeks, several climbers have been flown out of Mount Everest Base Camp after reporting symptoms of Covid-19, and then tested positive after reaching Kathmandu, the capital. On Wednesday, Nepali news outlets reported that 14 climbers, including foreigners and Sherpa guides, were being airlifted from Mount Dhaulagiri, another major peak, to Kathmandu for treatment after some were found to be infected.
The cases have raised fears for the safety of climbers and their Nepali guides who are pushing ahead with expeditions in the forbidding, high-altitude terrain, where doctors say they are already vulnerable to illness, lower blood oxygen levels and weaker immunity. Hundreds of climbers and Sherpas are isolating in their tents in gusty conditions at Everest base camp, trying to guard against infection while preparing to begin their ascent to the 29,000-foot summit.”
And a reminder that things weren’t great before the pandemic…
The country’s Ministry of Tourism unveiled a series of proposals aimed at avoiding another disastrous, overcrowded year on the world’s highest peak
“Everest cannot be climbed just based on one’s wishes,” tourism minister Yogesh Bhattarai said at a news conference reported by The New York Times. “We are testing their health conditions and climbing skills before issuing climbing permits.”
The new price floor of $35,000 is still unlikely to deter inexperienced aspirants like doubling or tripling the permit fee would have. This seems to have been a move aimed at calming local operators, whose businesses could be hurt by a permit increase. The median price Nepali operators charged in the 2019 spring season was around $40,000, according to my polling, but deep discounts regularly took the price down to less than $30,000—or even lower.”
With crowds, trash, and selfies at its summit, the once untamable mountain has lost its cultural power.
“Since the explosion of Himalayan mountaineering in the early 20th century, the world has swooned over the madness of climbers and their refusal to stop, even—or especially—in the face of great risk. Today, that infatuation can seem more pervasive than ever. Jarring reports this season have described climbers waiting in line at Everest’s peak while others take selfies. Crowds are leaving behind piles of litter, and the death rate is spiking. Some struggling climbers have said that others ignored their pleas for help en route to the summit.
Leaving behind injured, hypothermic, or otherwise struggling climbers to fend for themselves has long been the stuff of some of the beloved accounts of both death and survival in mountaineering, especially at high altitudes. On Everest, there are no explicit rules about helping others, and forging ahead to ensure your own survival is common. The recently publicized problems on the mountain, however, have brought this code of conduct under widespread scrutiny. Many people have responded with surprise and anger, calling for more safety and altruism on Everest.”
But here are some voices from women who’ve climbed Everest…
“This photo captures a moment that will never come again: the first three women to climb Mount Everest. Together, smiling. All are now gone.
Taken by Isabelle Agresti, a French woman climber, the image is from August, 1979, in Chamonix. Junko Tabei of Japan, Phanthog from Tibet, and Wanda Rutkiewicz of Poland were invited that summer by Henri Agresti, a guide at ENSA (L’École Nationale de Ski et d’Alpinisme) who was teaching a class to aspirants. Henri and Isabelle had in 1976 been part of a team to establish a new route up Mount Foraker, Denali National Park, and the two made the first ascent of the mountain Koh-e-Rank in the Hindu Kush, Afghanistan, in 1968.”
“For decades climbing was a male-dominated sport—it still is. But the gender gap is slowly shrinking, andmany women have made significant contributions to the sport.
This year on Everest there are more women climbers than usual. Before 2018, of the 4,738 people to have summited Everest, 605 were women—that’s 12 percent. In 2018, there were 61 women climbers on the Nepal side and 49 made it to the top, or 18 percent of the total summitters.
The 2019 records released by the Nepal Department of Tourism showed that women climbers account for 76 out of 375 permits (20 percent) issued to foreigners. China had the most women climbers with 20, followed by India (18), Nepal (six), the U.S. (four), and Lebanon, Norway, the U.K., and Greece all with three. Last year, the female summit success percentage was 80 percent, so using the same number, we can predict that we’llsee 61 summits this year, perhaps a record.”
How about you? Is Everest a mountain you dream of climbing? Do you get the challenge? Thoughts welcome in the comments below.
This week’s link round up looks at some puzzles and problems related to sports. Enjoy and let us know what you think in the comments below!
🔴 The Rules of Race Walking When I taught philosophy of sport, one of the puzzles that students love concerns the role of rules in establishing what a sport is. And one of the funniest cases is the case of race walking.
“This has nothing to do with physics, but racewalking. Here are the rules. Walk so that one foot is always on the ground, and keep your front legs straight. In short, do a funny walk really fast. There’s also something funny about the rules, though. The judges who determine whether or not a competitor is indeed walking are only allowed to stand stationary at the side of the course and judge by eye whether the competitors appear to be walking. You would think that for a sport whose definition is so technical, they’d appeal to all possible technology to enforce the rules.”
🔴 Are women’s abilities in sports systematically underestimated? That’s the question two University of Guelph faculty are collaborating on in a new research project, funded through @EallianceSport. Learn more about Dr. Sandeep Mishra and Dr. Jing Wan’s project here.
“The purpose of our research project is to investigate whether there is a systematic underestimation of women athletes’ abilities, and if so, how this underestimation manifests. We predict that people hold implicit, unconscious beliefs about gender and athleticism, which will colour their perceptions of athletic performance. We further predict that people’s subjective perception of an athlete’s skill will be more heavily influenced by gender stereotypes, rather than factual information (e.g., objective speed of a kicked ball).”
-Dr. Jing Wan
🔴What if everything we know about gymnastics is wrong? Can high-level gymnastics training be done humanely? Chellsie Memmel, a former Olympian who made a comeback at 31, and other gymnasts everywhere are done with inhumane coaching — and the idea that they have to peak in their teens.
🔴 Is Sport Sexist? Why do men’s and women’s gymnastics have so little in common? Just two events. “Each event is designed to show off the gender’s natural qualities. An opportunity for the flexible and graceful sequined-wearing female to sparkle and the biceps-bulging male to test his strength and power. Peacocking for both sexes, just through different means. While women compete in four apparatus (vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor), men have six events (floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar).” And it’s not just gymnastics, what about cross country, speed skating, and track cycling? In those sports men and women compete in different distance events. And then there’s tennis!
Here’s an abstract for a paper in the journal Philosophy of Sport, Is it defensible for women to play fewer sets than men in grand slam tennis? “Is it defensible for women to play fewer sets than men in grand slam tennis? Lacking in the philosophy of sport is discussion of the gendered numbers of sets played in Grand Slam tennis. We argue that the practice is indefensible. It can be upheld only through false beliefs about women or repressive femininity ideals. It treats male tennis players unfairly in forcing them to play more sets because of their sex. Its ideological consequences are pernicious, since it reinforces the respective identifications of the female and male with physical limitation and heroism. Both sexes have compelling reason to reject the practice.”
Do you really think Serena Williams couldn’t play another set? Really?
As I noted on Monday we’re on a bit of cold weather/outdoors swimming kick around the blog. Here’s some of the videos I’ve found. If you have any that you recommend, that I’ve missed please let us know in the comments!
This week’s link round up focuses on weight loss. If you want to know why a fitness blog cares so much about body image and weight loss, you can read this.
Tl;dr: “Body image is connected to fitness in a variety of ways. It’s both the motivation for lots of women to pursue physical activity. I’ll solve my body image issues by improving my body! Body image anxiety is also the reason lots of women don’t exercise. I can’t go to the gym. I’m too fat! Both of these sets of motivations are problematic.”
“At any given time, about half of all Americans are trying to lose weight — and we can assume it will be even more than that once everyone emerges from our collective bread-and-cookie-insulated quarantine cocoon. That means millions of people are doing keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, Optavia, Atkins, and all the other diets (many of which we’ve explained and reviewed on GH) that limit what, when and how you eat. And as you can tell from all those “before and after” Instagram shots, some dieters do lose weight — at least at first. But for the majority it inevitably comes back, potentially leading to guilt, disappointment, and the biggest question of all: What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I keep off the weight?
“Low-fat, low-carb, Paleo, keto, South Beach, intermittent fasting—the list goes on. Given that our culture idealizes thinness and shuns larger bodies, it’s not surprising that nearly one in five midlife women has dieted in the past few years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And many have regained the weight and see themselves as having failed. Less than 1% of very large people got to a “normal” weight at all in a study that included almost 100,000 women, and most who did regained the pounds they had lost within five years.
Some medical experts are now saying what many of us have been desperate to hear: It’s extremely tough to drop weight long-term, for reasons that have nothing to do with willpower—and it may not even be necessary.”
“The message that “good parents” can and should control the number on the scale is literally tearing families apart. Should your child’s weight determine your fitness to be a parent? According to a family court judge in Sussex, England, the answer seems to be yes. In a decision filed last October, which recently made international headlines, District Judge Gillian Ellis ordered that then–16-year-old “Child C” and 13-year-old “Child D” be placed in foster care after their parents failed to help them lose weight. “I know that you love your mother and father very much and I know they love you too,” Ellis wrote. “But I am concerned about your health and the way in which your weight impacts on this.”
“Why is it so hard to lose weight? Here’s one reason: A lot of what we all take for granted about weight loss is unproven or flat-out wrong. That’s the bottom line from a special article published in 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article laid out what works and what doesn’t, and detailed the commonly held weight loss beliefs that are not supported by research. The review also unveiled some of the theories that have not been proven or disproven. Here are some of the most surprising theories, plus what science really says about them”
“Man, I really wanted to write a long post about how much better and smarter and amazing I am now that I’ve lost 100 pounds. How much thinner I am. Maybe some clever words about my poor boobs, and about my clothes, and then I could post some before-and-afters, and then the congratulations could pour in. But the truth is so much more complicated. Losing 100 pounds doesn’t make you smarter, more organized, or able to find your car keys. It doesn’t make me a better wife, a better mother, or a better writer. Really, it just makes me smaller. And squishier. And more confused than ever about the role of women and weight and hunger and exercise and our culture. So instead I wrote to Roxane Gay, who seems to write about weight and women with raw truth and clarity. And I’m grateful for it.”
“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.”
This is where we share stuff we can’t share on Facebook page. Sometimes it’s for fear of being kicked out! Read why here. Usually the posts are about body image, sometimes there’s nudity but we’re all adults here. Right? Other times it’s because we can’t easily moderate comments on the FB page and things get out of control fast. Here, most of the time, conversations tend to be calmer and slower. I’m not sharing these links because I agree with everything in them. I think they are all of interest to people interested in the connections between fitness and feminism.
The future of sex in elite sport: Sex has long been used to divide sporting competitions in the name of fairness, but are the current rules and enforcement practices fit for purpose?
My problem with the discourse around “obesity” “Fatness and sex actually have a lot in common. The problem with fatness is very similar to the problem with sex. American society doesn’t know enough about these topics because they’re horrifically understudied. And they’re horrifically understudied in large part because they’re so stigmatized. They’re also very gendered. The way people socialized as men experience sex and fatness are quite different from the way people socialized as women experience them.”
Weight Shaming (Not Free Doughnuts) Is The Real Health Threat. Here’s Why. “Those who have spoken out against the free doughnut incentive argue that eating doughnuts might ruin someone’s health. But other experts pointed out that this isn’t really about health — it’s about fatphobia. “By couching this in terms of health, people can more readily express fatphobic sentiment without repercussion because it’s seen as coming from a place of ‘concern’ for well-being,” said Jeffrey Hunger, an assistant professor and social psychology researcher at Miami University in Ohio who studies the health consequences of stigma.”
Megan Rapinoe: Bills to ban transgender kids from sports try to solve a problem that doesn’t exist “These bills are attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Transgender kids want the opportunity to play sports for the same reasons other kids do: to be a part of a team where they feel like they belong. Proponents of these bills argue that they are protecting women. As a woman who has played sports my whole life, I know that the threats to women’s and girls’ sports are lack of funding, resources and media coverage; sexual harassment; and unequal pay.”
Why are Americans Obsessed with Fitness? Historian Jürgen Martschukat argues we’ve lost the joy in moving our bodies, “What’s especially peculiar about the West’s fitness-mania is that it isn’t tied to organized sport, nor to winning a medal, but rather the goal of “achieving a fit body.” That goal has become a mechanism to perpetuate privilege, Martschukat writes. “This body, in turn, stands for an array of partially overlapping forces, abilities and ideals, which point far beyond the doing of the sport,” he says. “These encompass one’s health and performance in everyday life and at work, productivity and the ability to cope with challenging situations, potency, a slim figure, and a pleasing appearance according to the prevalent standards of beauty.”
Extreme Exercise Carries Metabolic Consequences “As a researcher at the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Filip Larsen would hear anecdotes about the downsides of too much exercise—a common enough phenomenon that nevertheless puzzled him. “All athletes know if you train too much, something’s happening. . . . Your legs feel terrible after a while, and then if you just continue, you have these psychological disturbances too, like mood disturbances,” he says. “That hasn’t been really described in the literature—no one knows exactly what’s going on.” To find out, Larsen and his colleagues recruited 11 healthy young people and put them through a four-week, increasingly intense regimen of sessions on a stationary bike while monitoring their glucose tolerance and mitochondrial function. During the toughest week, the subjects displayed insulin resistance and other deleterious metabolic changes, the team reported last week (March 18) in Cell Metabolism.”