Nobody wants to hear a woman in a size 2 complain, so I usually bite my tongue. But give me a minute. Women who work out are out of options when it comes to finding cute, non-workout-wear clothes and it’s time someone steps in to serve this market. Designers, listen up.*
When you believe in the holy trinity of bench, squat, and deadlift and have a penchant for pull-ups you re-cast the shape you were born with. Not that designers have ever pretended to understand an actual woman’s body, but they’re profoundly off the mark when a woman packs muscles. And the fashion world doesn’t even pretend to care. Reading a women’s magazine a while back brought on a conniption when I read a bit on how various body types should dress. Those of us with muscular quads, it advised, should wear long skirts to COVER THEM UP. WTF?
Do they know how hard I’ve worked for those muscles, that strength? No wonder women fear “bulking up”—if your waist whittles while your quads stay the same size as they transform from soft to sculpted, you’re out of the jeans-wearing crowd. Every so often I try a pair to see if anyone has caught on to the exploding number of women getting into lifting (hello, CrossFit – maybe you’ve heard of it?). And every time I leave the store empty-handed and annoyed.
My most recent shopping trip was a double whammy. The size 25s that fit my waist would have cut off circulation in my thighs, while the 26s gaped enough at the waist to tuck a kettlebell in. We won’t even discuss the pancake arse that jeans are designed for (I refer you to the wisdom of Sir Mix A Lot).
Next up, an XS button-up shirt. I have no bustline to speak of, narrow shoulders and the ribcage size of a pre-teen, yet the shirt strained across my back à la Hulk. Why? Because I make use of the muscles I came with. This was no surprise since I prefer Wonder Woman arms to snowman twigs.
Desperate once for a fitted, nautical striped top—and not into the billowy look the size that fit my biceps would require—I tried on the XS which precipitated a humiliating conversation with the saleswoman about whether this would end in a Fat Guy in a Little Coat scene. (It didn’t, but I have popped buttons.)
So come on, designers. I don’t expect to see a gun show at a fashion show anytime soon, but throw us a bone. Strong women are here to stay. If we can pay for spendy gyms, we can buy your clothes (have you seen the cost of Lululemon?). We don’t want to walk around all the time in our House of Pain shirts and yoga pants. I promise: if you build it they will come.
Readers: help me out! If you’re a fit, strong woman, what do you wear? Where do you love to shop?