body image · bras · clothing · Fear · femalestrength · feminism · gender policing · men · objectification · running

Again?! Women at Rowan University are Serena’d

This article in Odyssey about how women runners at Rowan University were forbidden from running in only their sports bras seems like it should be a spoof in The Onion. It’s real. The university’s response was half-hearted, though ultimately the no-sports-bras-in-practice policy will be rescinded.

How much longer will we be having these conversations? After the brouhaha this summer over the ridiculous outfit policing by the tennis powers (which we wrote about on this blog), causing grief to Serena Williams (Let Women Wear What They Want and Serena Williams and the multiple ways of policing black women’s bodies) and Alize Cornet (Is Tennis Trying To Win a Chauvinism/Misogyny Award?), how is it possible the university administrators at Rowan forgot? Or did the news never even reach their ears?

Every time this happens, I am grieved by the lack of respect for women and their bodies. Men are responsible for their own lack of decorum and inability to contain their impulses, not us!

A sports bra is not provocative. It is comfortable. It is practical. It makes us feel strong and capable and empowered.

Oh … maybe that is provocative … because it provokes fear?!

Do you workout in sports bra only?


Spanx for men, or not the kind of equality Sam wants

So there I am browsing online sales on the internet looking for my favorite brand of Spanx tights. They’re wonderful black tights. They fit. They feel good. And they last.

Whatever awful things you have to say about Spanx shapewear, I likely agree. I bought some once to fit back into my work clothes for a conference right after Christmas after a heavy over eating holiday season and I thought they were dreadful. I never wore them again. Yes, I got into my suits for the purpose of interviewing people for jobs but I could barely breathe. Ugh. But I like their tights.

But while browsing for tights, I came across Man Spanx. New to me.

There are have been lots of videos and articles about men trying on their girlfriends’ Spanx underwear.

But now men can have their own because there are Man Spanx, promising you a trim, lean, athletic physique without working out. As they say, “See an improvement in your physique without even hitting the gym with SPANX men’s shapewear.”

There are trimming undershirts and high waisted underwear that tame bellies. Sigh.

I was sad and surprised when I saw them. Turns out they’ve been around for awhile. See Men’s ‘Shapewear’ Is a Retail Hit

Call me naive but I was really hoping in a more equal world that women would get more body comfort, not that men would get less.


advertising · body image · diets · men · motivation

Men, don’t change much but women, you’re doing everything wrong!

We’ve all heard the message of small changes, Make small changes to improve your health and fitness

And for Canadian Men’s Health week that’s the message, Don’t Change Much.

I love the motto, “Half fries, half salad, once in awhile” in this radio spot,


There are lots of reasons to start small. Tracy, here on the blog, has been a big advocate of doing less.  I’ve written about aiming for a 2/3 vegan diet because a fully vegan diet seems too much and it’s better overall, if it’s sustainable, to just eat fewer animal products.

In general, lots of public health agencies push a moderate message because it’s more likely to be motivational.

But I worry it’s gendered. We send men the moderate message, while women strive for perfection. We tell men that the “dad bod” is hot but there’s no such equivalent as the “mom bod.”

I love this Southern Comfort ad but can’t imagine a women’s version.

Instead, the message I hear that’s aimed at women is “OMG women, eat less, move more, sleep more, spend more time with your families, advance your careers, GO GO GO!”

It’s hard to imagine the “don’t change much” campaign aimed at women. What might it look like?



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.