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!
Body, you are trying to tell me something
When I rush it, guns blazing
You are teaching me
Bones, you are taking your own sweet time to strengthen
Just like my heart, my mind
Recovery and rest hand in hand
In the spirit of wabi-sabi I decided to really pay attention to transient and simple beauty today.
Eldest One calling me in to her room in a flurry of excitement because two daffodils had opened in her flower arrangement. The taste of maple syrup on little jewels of raspberry with crisp, fluffy pancakes. Little One proudly smiling as she gave me a card adorned with tissue paper flowers. The slowly disappearing heart shape traced into the milk and chocolate on my cappuccino.
While running along the quayside, I tried tuning out that internal voice which says I really need to stop now and to focus on the natural world around me. The first sprinkling of white blossom on a tree poking through the pedestrian bridge. Silvery ripples traced in the water behind a swan. Daisies just beginning to peep open in the grass. The feeling of the icy wind on my cheeks.
A very peaceful way to enjoy a run – maybe it is going to be an important part of my gap year after all.
Today I treated myself to a new running top. Frankly I was knackered this afternoon and couldn’t think of anything worse really than going out in the drizzle with the beginner’s running club.
I’ve been chatting about this recently with a couple of girlfriends. I know I enjoy the feeling when I get back from a run – there’s a deeper peace somehow – but I couldn’t honestly say that I enjoy the process. Is running something that I can do as part of my year of enjoyment & pleasure or is it another ‘should’ I have been wondering.
I decided to get dressed for running this evening. There’s something about putting on that ‘armour’ of the ronhills and trainer socks, carefully attending to the stitched ‘L’ & ‘R’ (I didn’t even know these existed until I started the course ten weeks ago). The ritual of preparing myself and remembering all the inspirational women on the This Girl Can campaign. I put on my new top and found that it really glowed in the dusk under the street lamps. It made me smile thinking about myself as ‘day-glo girl’ with shiny super powers including looking awesome while running!
I made it up the biggest hill in our town without stopping today, and then ran a continuous 2 miles home. Maybe there is a bit of day-glo girl in me after all. I’m still not sure whether running counts as pleasure or enjoyment though!