bras · equality · fashion · fat · fitness · gender policing · inclusiveness · men

Liberation, two nipples at a time (Guest post)

When all the fashion magazines featured women with hands (their own or others’) covering their breasts, a thought flickered that hands are much more comfortable than the average bra. Hiding women’s breasts, one way or the other, is standard media fare, and of course in some places women aren’t allowed to go topless in public, a clear gender disparity.

Fashion in the last few decades has even come to erase to nipple that might protrude from a shirt — again only for women like Serena Williams, not for men like Andy Murray.

It’s become really hard to find a non-padded bra, even for sports. Yet it’s seriously unpleasant to exercise with sweaty padding. Does anyone really believe in “breathable padding”? Sorry Victoria’s Secret, but my skepticism was well placed.

However, in recent years fashion has shown glimpses of the saucy braless 70s, including the bralette and bandeaus, all pleasant options for small-breasted women. The news even declares that bralessness is in fashion.

Many of us may sneer “how nice for you!” Bralessness and even lightweight bra alternatives are not realistic choices. Many heavy breasted women are simply not comfortable and even experience back pain without support from a bra. Sizes small, medium, and large rarely do the work we need them to do either. Sports bras tend to be sized that way and create a special kind of hell. We end up pinched and unsupported on top of being sweaty.

So I suggest the new move away from bras and padded bras may be good for all women. It marks a greater diversity in the types of breast support and sports tops available for women. The less women are expected to hide our breasts the easier it will be for us to demand comfortable functional support.

body image · men

Your Monday smile: Here’s a happy man in a speedo dancing

And here’s some more posts and about men and their bodies: 

Happy fat guy in a speedo dancing

Men it isn’t junk

Whatever’s comfortable 

Men, meet normative thinness 

The dad bod

Why men on a feminism and fitness blog? Because my feminism includes body positivity for men too.

fitness · men

If you like it then you should have put a ring on it? The fit bit for boy bits

Perpetuating all the gender stereotypes when it comes to sex women are said to worry more about looks–see My boyfriend tells me my vagina is too fat–and men are said to worry most about performance.

How to quantify sexual performance though? Don’t worry men. Help is on the way.  There’s now a fitness tracker for your penis.

What? Lovely – the smart sex toy that has been dubbed ‘the Fitbit for your penis’  

The product can apparently collect all kinds of data about your lovemaking skills – after you’ve finished, the Lovely app connects to your smartphone and provides you with a report, containing information on how many calories you’ve burned, your top and average speed, and even the g-forces you’ve exerted on each other’s respective pelvises.

The Lovely even senses what sexual positions you’ve used, and can apparently tell when things are going well – providing you with handy tips and suggestions on what you should do next time.

Why? See 10 Reasons Every Penis Needs a “Lovely” Fitbit

So you had 23 minutes of sex, with a top speed of 16 mph and a force of 6g. What does that even mean? The Lovely will let you know that those stats equate to 17 minutes of jogging.

Men like data, I guess. At least that’s the gender stereotype.

I’m amused thinking thinking of the social networking (over) sharing opportunities this presents. “Dave logged 46 minutes of sex this month in two different positions with three partners.” TMI, Dave.

There are so many questions here. “What counts as sex?” is one obvious one.  My favourite piece on this theme is Greta Christina’s Are We Having Sex Now or What? I guess at a minimum for the Lovely to count it, the penis has to be in motion. Then there’s the question of feedback on technique. I would think a real live person with whom you’re having sex might be a better choice than your fitness tracker, but call me old-fashioned. Then there’s speed and force of thrusting as the thing that gets measured, rather that say, precision and timing. But I’ll stop here and leave the last comment, dressed up as a meme, from a comment on our Facebook page. Thanks TK!







body image · men

The dad bod? Fine. But what about the mom bod?

It’s a bit of a double standard. Last week social media for women was all about asking if we’re beach body ready and for men, it was all about praise for the dad bod. If you’ve been following social media, or even mainstream news, you’ve heard all about the dad bod. I’m not going to comment on the beach body campaign, except to point you to these body positive responses here. You’re welcome.

Now back to the dad bod. What is the dad bod exactly?

The dadbod is a physique characterized by undefined muscles beneath a light layer of flab, usually topped off with a beer belly. “The dad bod says, ‘I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time,'” explains Mackenzie Pearson, a Clemson sophomore, at The Odyssey.

The Odyssey goes on to say,

The dad bod is a new trend and fraternity boys everywhere seem to be rejoicing. Turns out skipping the gym for a few brews last Thursday after class turned out to be in their favor. While we all love a sculpted guy, there is just something about the dad bod that makes boys seem more human, natural, and attractive

See more for why women who like men like the dad bod here.

And even CBC is getting in on the picture, wondering why the beer belly is more attractive than a six pack.

Ditto Business Insider.

So the dad bod isn’t just achieved by drinking beer and nachos. It’s the kind of body that results from playing hockey or rugby, for example, and then going out after with the guys for pizza and beer. It’s muscle, yes, but with a comforting layer of fat over top.

Who has the dad bod look? Lots of male actors it turns out. Here’s Jason Segel in a very silly movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.


I’ve written lots here about male bodies and the heightened standards of perfection by which they’re being judged.

See Men, meet normative thinness and Whatever’s Comfortable. I also make my plea for a more forgiving standard for both men and women in the post titled It Isn’t Junk.

Which brings to me to my first point about the dad bod.

Why not the mom bod? None of the articles mention the existence of a similar attractive look for women. “Yes, she plays soccer and hits the gym, but she doesn’t say no to pizza or to sharing cookies with her kids.”

I laughed this week when a old photo of mine popped up in my social media newsfeed because one of my sons had commented on it. I was nervous. It was me in a bikini. What sort of thing would he have said? Please don’t let it be anything mean.

No. My sons aren’t mean. Needn’t have worried. He’d commented, “Mother abs!”

Here’s the photo:


And since I’d been reading all the dad bod stuff with interest, I thought about the photo in the context of mom bod. Yes, you can see muscle. You can also see it’s covered in a layer of fat. Yes, I work out but as my athlete son always says, “six pack abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.”

A few more thoughts about the dad bod. It’s all about female desire. The talk is pretty aggressively heterosexual. No one mentions the look with which it’s so obviously contrasted, the more sculpted male physique, that’s so often associated with male desire. And it’s also pretty darn het even in the name. It’s the dad bod, not the middle aged guy bod.

On balance, it’s a good thing, I guess. Once again though I wish women’s bodies enjoyed a similar, relaxed standard.

body image · fashion · men

Another happy fat guy in a speedo, this time dancing!


When I first wrote about men and their comfort on the beach, and how I feared that was changing a number of you sent me the Whatever’s Comfortable ad. I loved it.

Then I wrote more about men in bathing suits, bathing socks really, here.

A new person sent me the Whatever’s Comfortable ad and so prompted a third post. I said a little more about men and bathing suits. See here.

Never let it be said that our readers aren’t into sharing because next a blog reader sent me this video, a non-normatively bodied man dancing in a bathing suit, looking happy and not at all ashamed.

Love it.

But again, do you think it would work with a woman?

If you come across a video featuring a fat woman in a bathing suit, where she’s comfortable in her own skin and the point of the video isn’t to mock her, just let me know.

There’s also some men and bathing suit links, if you’re interested:

And as evidence the world is changing and that men are being fat shamed too, I offer up this ad. Sigh.


aging · body image · equality · men

Whatever’s Comfortable: What would a version of this ad look like with a woman?

When I first blogged about how much I admire men of a certain age for their body comfort on the beach in the post Men: It isn’t junk, people started sending me a certain ad for Southern Comfort.

It’s worth watching. I hadn’t seen it as I don’t have a television.

The ad is part of the Whatever’s Comfortable campaign which Southern Comfort describes as being “all about championing the attitude it takes to be yourself, and celebrates those people who captivate us because of it.”

It’s also spoofed here in an ad for Save the Children.

In the post I wrote that I was worried about how much the world had changed for younger men and how I missed the forgiving furry bellies of older men on the beach.

Our tolerance for men’s bodies that don’t meet our standards of normative thinness is fast going away. (See Men, meet normative thinness for my reflections on this unfortunate leveling down.)

There’s no shortage of tumblrs of images of older men in speedos on the beach, usually with unpleasant commentary.

Everybody has their story. Awhile ago were talking about an Italian card game we play at my house when a friend said he couldn’t play it. Scopa reminds him, he said. of the old guys in their speedos making espresso on the beach, playing cards all day.

Coffee? The beach? Cards?

Sounds like a winning combo to me! I’d play cards with the old guys.

And I love the Southern Comfort ad. It makes me smile even though I don’t drink alcohol. But I have wondered what a woman’s version of the “Whatever’s Comfortable” campaign would look like.

Could we even do it? Would we still smile if an older woman, with an imperfect body strolled down the beach in her bikini, smiling?


body image · men

Put a sock on it?

The internet exploded today with news of yet another body revealing bathing suit for men, the politely named “swimming sock.” (Less polite names make use of every single penis joke you can imagine.)

And actually it sent me right back to high school when a friend of a friend set out to knit all of the boys “peter heaters” which involved getting measurements (of course!) and seeing them modeled to see if they fit properly. I grew up on the east coast of Canada where the beach meant the chilly Atlantic ocean and there was no chance of anyone wearing one in the summer. The “peter heaters” were meant for winter wear.

Back to men and skimpy bathing suits. The one on the far right is the “sock.”


Reactions from friends ran the gamut but the most common reaction is the one that really troubles me. It’s body shaming, the boy version.

“It’s okay if some hot guy wears it but just image the fat, hairy, old guys.”

I’ve blogged about this reaction and how much it troubles me before. See Men: It isn’t junk, Women: Stop saying you don’t need to see that.

I hear this from women who I know are sensitive to criticism of women’s bodies. They would speak up if someone said that about an older woman in a bikini. What is it about men’s bodies that makes some people so uncomfortable? Is it so wrong to like a diverse range of male bodies?

And what is it with those knee length baggy swim shorts that lots of men of all ages wear? I miss Australia where men wear “budgie smugglers” (as they say) and New Zealand where men wear short shorts.

And you know what? I love those old fat wrinkly guys in their speedos. Why? I feel completely free to wear my bikini. If they can do it, so can I.

My least favourite expression comes from men themselves. “Who wants to see some guy’s junk?” Stop calling it “junk.” Please.

If you want to wear one in my hot tub, that’s just fine. It’s a body shame free zone. A fashion shame free zone too.