Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sports Bras and Other Outer Underwear

October was Breast Cancer Awareness month and a local gym encouraged members to wear sports bras to class in order to raise awareness. No big, right? I wear a sports bra to the local Y every day. But, this was a little different; they wanted women to wear sports bras without a shirt over them. 

I read about this and had an immediate reaction ...

So-o-o-o not gonna happen!

Let me count the reasons why: back fat, side fat, above the boob fat, below the boob fat, under the armpit fat. Basically, for my sports bras to be supportive enough to hold up my 51-year old girls for 55 minutes of dancing, they have to be pretty snug. They do their job and they look fine under a tee shirt. That's exactly where they'll stay.

No underwear as outerwear for me, if you please. Move along. Nothing to see here.

I wasn't always so ... um ... shy. In the big 80s, I did a lot of aerobics and, consequently, owned a lot of big 80s workout wear. Yes, I had the suspender leotard, the thong-back leotard, the unitard with the leotard briefs over it, the contrasting elastic belt, the leg warmers. (Thanks to my short hair, I never did the headband thing, thank you very much.) I even had a few choice pieces manufactured and marketed by the "Make it burn" queen herself, Jane Fonda. (And a signed poster, her record album, and eventually her video tapes.)

That was then and this is now.

When the new principal of our high school articulated and threatened to enforce a dress code for the annual "Powderpuff Football" game, my teenage daughter and her friends were up in arms. Apparently, the all-girls game is a long tradition around here (news to me; I went to school in New York City with no football of any kind). And, also apparently, it has become standard practice for the juniors to attend in sports bras.

To the students, this seemed a serious threat to their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. To me, it seemed like common sense. (Hello? This is New England; we have weather.)

Turns out it was much more. And, as often as I tend to side with the world's downtrodden and the freedom fighters, I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the principal's decision.

When it comes to public sporting events that require scant clothing, there are three types of girls. Those who are comfortable and confident (and naturally thin), and wear the prescribed clothing (or lack thereof). Those who go on crash diets, jeopardizing their health, in order to do so. And, those who miss out on the event altogether rather than adhere to the custom. It was for these two last groups that the new policy was articulated.

After complaints from parents, the principal met with representatives of the junior class and it was agreed that the encouraged mode would be tank tops rather than sports bras, and that participating would be optional. No matter how many grumbled (and, trust me, many did), this seemed like a fair compromise and a good way to help the students think about inclusion and sensitivity. It may have also, unintentionally, taught some of the girls about getting around rules they don't like.

To finish the story, the annual Powderpuff Game was held yesterday. We lost to the neighboring town (and arch rival). A portion of the stadium stands collapsed and three girls were hurt (one taken to the hospital with an assumed broken leg).

And in all the pictures of junior girls that I've seen online ...

Tank tops are rolled up, exposing their midriffs and creating, in effect, sports bras.

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