I’m a shapely woman. Thanks to starting Metafit this year I consider myself pretty strong and fit.
Yesterday evening I spent a demoralizing twenty minutes trying to do up my wetsuit for outdoor swimming. I’m a size 16 in the hips and a size 14 in the chest. The average dress size in the UK is a size 14. So why did I find myself painfully squeezing the skin between my shoulder blades into the largest triathlon wetsuit available – an extra large? A Google search of wetsuit brands confirmed that the weight and chest measurement range for almost all swimming wetsuits tops out roughly where I begin.
It’s not just my wetsuit. My Ronhill running shorts are an XL (they top out at a Size 18 XXL), my cycling shorts are an XL, my yoga pants are an XL. I couldn’t even fit into the XL sports crop tops at Decathlon.
What frustrates me isn’t the judgement of my body size. It’s the implicit exclusion of women and girls who are my size and larger from so many sporting pursuits. “You don’t belong in the ocean/on the trail/on a bike”; “You’re not our target market”. How many women and girls who are nervous to take up exercise in the first place have stumbled at the first hurdle when they find they can’t fit into any of the gear?
What can I do? The closet entrepreneur in me would love to start a website selling sports gear for the (at least) 50% of women who fall into the >XL category. But would the manufacturers even produce kit in the sizes we need? I’m definitely going to write to wiggle, the stockist of much of the sports gear I have bought. I might even pen an article to a women’s magazine. I will send a letter of praise to Nike running who stock up to a size 26 (and incidentally where I measure up as a medium)
Campaigns like This Girl Can assert that ordinary women can and should enjoy the opportunity to sweat. It’s time the manufacturers and stockists caught up.
Readers, if you know of any brands or stockists who consider the >XL 50% please comment below!