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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Running Skirts: My Take

There was an article in Runner's World this month about Fastinistas, or women who really wear a lot of high fashion clothing while running, specifically running skirts. When the article posted on Runnersworld.com, it got some fairly negative comments.  I wanted to chime in because I'm firmly in the "no, I don't wear skirts" camp.

First of all, the negative comments.  Some of the commenters seemed to take this as an opportunity to make a statement yet AGAIN about 'slow' runners or 'casual' runners, or runners that don't run as many miles as they do, or whatever.  This is just so typical that it doesn't even get me riled up anymore.  Still, it does bring up one point that I've made about skirts since they first came out: skirts might potentially make other runners take the skirt wearer less seriously.  I'm already slow.  I already run the same number of miles per month that other blogging runners run per week.  I don't need another reason for people to not take my running seriously.  I feel that I am a serious runner, and I don't have speed, or miles or a hot athletic body to prove that I'm a serious runner.  So, I dress the part.  I wear singlets and short shorts and the things that 'serious' athletes would be expected to wear.  This is important to me.

I have an inherent lack of confidence, I suppose.  Back in college, you would never have seen me going to class in pair of sweat pants.  Someone once asked me why, and I responded, "because I worry that people will think sweat pants is the only thing I can fit into."  This isn't the first time I've had hangups about clothing, I suppose.

Then, there came a time when I did decide to purchase a skirt, so I did some shopping.  The problem?  The price tag.  Skirt sports, one of the more popular running skirt brands, currently prices their skirts between $60 and $75.  Woa.  That's a lot of money.  My preferred running short, Nike Tempo Track Shorts are priced at $32.  That's a HUGE price difference.  Seeing as how I already have a full range of summer running clothing (well, winter also), I just can't justify buying a skirt.  I get my "fun" running clothes from cute tops, tops with sayings on them, or tops that advertise the races that I've done.  I pair them with the Tempo shorts in a few different colors, and the shorts are versatile.  Many of the skirts are in bright colors or patterns that don't match tops that I already own.  Or, if they do match, I look frumpy wearing them with a singlet from my running store.  So, does that mean I also need to get a bunch of tops to match?  Cha-ching!  The price of a skirt keeps rising.

To be honest, skirts look best when worn by skinny girls with little tops like on the cover of Runner's World.  They don't look good on girls shaped like me.  At least, that's how I see it.  So, even if I get over the price tag and the seriousness issue, I still have the body image issue to face.  Skirts are POPULAR.  Go to a race and see how many women are wearing them.  If I show up wearing that bright pink argyle skirt in the photo and that chick in the photo is wearing it also?  No thanks.  I don't want to be in that scenario.  Sounds horrible?  Maybe, but it's true.  Sometimes, I just feel like I want to leave the skirts to the cute girls - the ones who can pull it off.

There are a boatload of people over the past couple of years who have tried to pressure me into trying on a skirt, or buying a skirt, or making skirts an essential part of my wardrobe.  I really don't like this.  I am not a girly girl.  I already go into work everyday feeling like I am not dressing up like the other women do.  I wear pants and sandals and capris and I dress down a lot.  I do this because I want to feel comfortable.  I hate shopping for work clothes, I hate taking the time and expense to dress up every day.  The problem that the skirt pressure creates is that it makes me feel like this one last place where I can dress how I want and feel how I want - running - is now just another place where women are pressuring each other to look a certain way and be cute and dress up.  I'm not talking about for races, I'm talking about on your day to day, training, up at 3am, 20 mile days.  I want to get up and put on my shorts and singlet and go.  I don't wear makeup to run.  I don't think twice about wearing a black sports bra under a white shirt.  I don't care if my legs are shaved.  I don't even care if my clothes even match and I want that to be okay.  The trend, I fear, is that I'm now going to be expected to make myself perfect all the time.  Why, ladies?  Why do we feel the need to do this with every. single. activity?  It's not good enough to be good at what you do, now you have to look good doing it!

This is the fear that we are seeing in some of the comments at Runner's World.  For us non-girly girls, running is our escape from this sort of pressure to look good and be into fashion.  The running group is the place to be to feel accepted regardless of what you're wearing, even though we live in a world where girls start judging each others clothes in elementary school.  I think some women are starting to feel that pressure and don't like it.  I have definitely felt it.  I definitely don't like it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not poo-pooing on anyone who wears a skirt or looks cute when she runs.  You do what you want.  I don't judge, I don't care, and I'll even give a compliment to you.  I wish I could pull it off, I wish I could afford it, and I wish I had the confidence and the will to dress up all the time.  I do not.

I do still see clothing in running stores that fit me and look good and make me feel good when I run, so it's not all bad.  I don't think that the comments on the article are right.  It's just a skirt, not the end of the world.  But, I understand.  I see where the commenters are coming from.  Their peace is threatened, and they're expressing that.

I should also note: I've been "anti-skirt" for years, but I did tell a little fib above - I actually do own two skirts.  One purchased specifically to run Disney races (to look like Minnie Mouse - see the link to see the pictures) and the other purchased in June because it was on clearance at the Adidas Outlet and I wanted to try it.  Maybe that means I'm working my way to a transition.  But, I doubt it.  Somehow I think that the majority of my running will still be in shorts...

5 comments:

Tricia said...

thanks for sharing this. Its (probably) well known that I'm a "skirt-thusiast". Interestingly, in my day to day life I am NOT girly at all. I rarely wear pink or makeup or spend time on my hair and yet when I run...I WANT to feel girly. :) I wear pink and skirts and sparkles and all those things I'd never wear outside of running. Almost as if I have a running alter-ego that I enjoy expressing through running. Its honestly never occurred to me that people may take me less seriously if I wore a skirt.

I love that there are so many options gear wise for people and I feel like overall, runners are pretty accepting in what others wear.

Keri @ Blue-Eyed Runner said...

Love the points you make about the skirts- I actually have one but prefer the shorts. I love short- whether they are running shorts or dressy or casual, I also think they are more flattering on my body. I also def like to (try*) to look cute when running. I love bright colored running clothes, etc.

Can't wait to follow YOUR NYC training!

Kitzzy said...

I resisted running skirts for a long time too, thinking that I too am not that girly, but it's really odd because I love wearing skirts outside of running and I used to be really girly. When I was in High School, I wore skirts every day, even when it was cold (I'd wear tights under). That's probably leftover from when I was in Puerto Rico and we wore uniforms to school. I finally embraced them and there's no turning back for me. I find them more comfortable than shorts (if you have the right kind. I tried many that were not), and I really love how they make me feel. They are flattering and I feel more confident somehow. They are empowering. I do admit they are very pricey, and I've acquired most of mine online when they were on sale. But I am certainly not one to push it on others. I think running is a very personal thing and everyone gets something different out of it, so who am I to judge or tell people how to run. I certainly don't think we need to be dressing up for running, but I found that I loved running in costume and running in a skirt feels like it's halloween every day lol

Kandi said...

I own two skirts - one I got as a race premium and it has bloomers under it (instead of shorts) and I have to wear body glide to avoid chafing. The other is one from old navy and the undershorts rode up and chafed me so I have to wear body glide with it too and don't wear it for very long distances. I need to wear shorts if I'm doing any longer runs and am considering getting some spandex shorts that are a bit longer to see if that is better for me. Now that I'm doing longer runs I need to figure something out.
I don't really have an issue with the image of running in a skirt and I rarely try to match my skirts (or shorts) with tops. I just put on whatever is comfortable.

James said...

I had similar thoughts when I read the article. Frankly, from a guy's prospective, I can care less how my running clothes look as long as they're functional. Typically, I wear black shorts and either a race shirt or solid colored tech shirt and usually my marathon hat.

While I get that some people really make a thing of it, I think the majority of people are more like us and only want to be functionally comfortable.

Does it alter how people judge you as a runner? Probably, but then again, is it about what others think of you or how you think of yourself?

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