Note To The Athletic Wear Industry: Are We Invisible? Or Too Big For You?

I don’t make excuses and don’t provide explanations, reasonable or otherwise, for what I look like.

But I’m asking the makers of workout clothes and footwear: why not us, too?

You make nice things in bright colors and patterns for the “typical” athlete. Somehow, as the sizes get larger, the choices get smaller.

Black and navy blue running shoes. Seriously, that is what I am stuck with being a size 10 1/2. I didn’t pick these feet. I just grew them. At one point, they were a more average size eight. But some body parts, like feet, change over time. Your nose and earlobes continue to grow with age. Feet get longer and wider thanks to gravity and less tension in tendons and ligaments. Your shoes are not keeping up. Just because my friends call me Bigfoot doesn’t mean I don’t want nice-looking running shoes that look sleek and provide stability. That funereal-looking footwear is just depressing. Even the laces are black or blue. Not even a small pattern of pop color to glam up the gloomy fact that you gave up when the shoes got into “geez, your feet are kinda big” territory.

And don’t get me started about workout clothes. Same issue: you think once sizes go above about a size 10 or 12, we hate ourselves enough to want your plain black or blue shirts, shorts, cycling kits, and swimwear and hide from the pack or blend into the background. I remind you that we have mirrors in our houses. We don’t need you to remind us that Lycra ®, spandex, and other clingy-type things are not flattering to bumps, bulges, and other bodily inconsistencies. We already know it. That’s why workout clothes that fit right and stretch and make us look like we belong out there matter. You work harder at a workout when you feel good and the movement flows. If I need to stop every few minutes to pull too-tight tights out of my butt or worry about side boob syndrome, it’s a problem.

I would love to tell you America is catching up to you and we are getting smaller and thinner as a nation. Nah. The pandemic did not help, despite all that new home gym equipment, bought in earnest but now likely stacked or shoved to one side of the living room, granted an occasional wistful and guilty look. America has gotten fatter faster than almost every other country, and more than half of us admit to gaining weight during the pandemic. So we are not dropping to your level. We’re trying, and you could help out with some honestly-sized workout gear that also looks nicer than an old tablecloth or youth camp sleeping tent.

And sorry about the rant. I just got back from looking for a new pair of running shoes. I was shown what was available in my size. Black and blue shoes.

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