I remember watching the Women’s World Cup in 1999, that famous moment when Brandi Chastain nailed the penalty kick and then ripped off her jersey, just like the boys do it. For some reason, this was a controversial moment — some media and plenty of fans stood aghast at the sight.
All I could think was, “Seriously?” Because, really, is it a big deal for a woman to strip down to just a sports bra and shorts?
Sixteen years later, it’s still a topic you hear discussed, especially with female runners. Is it OK for a female runner to wear just a sports bra and shorts?
Personally, I see absolutely nothing wrong with it. I’ve done it myself many times in the hot, humid days of July or August. Sometimes a shirt just feels like too much.
In 2015, I am amazed that it’s a double standard and that it’s even something we discuss. Plenty of men choose to run shirtless in the summer, and no one bats an eyelash.
Some might argue it’s a safety issue — that running sans top makes women more vulnerable to harassment on the run. I cry foul on that one: If a man is going to be jerk enough to harass a woman while out running, he’s going to do it with or without the top on.
Others might claim that a woman is trying to flaunt her body if she chooses to run in a sports bra and shorts. I’d argue that a sports bra and shorts is sometimes more modest than some of the streetwear — and certainly beachwear — that has become accepted and common in the past decade or so.
And of course, there is the issue of body type. Some misguided folks might claim that the sports bra/shorts combo should be reserved only for the very fit. I cry bullshit on that. If you’re a female, you’re running and you’re hot, do what makes you comfortable. Don’t ever let concerns over body image stop you from getting out there and running — in whatever clothing combination you want.
So let’s put this topic to bed, once and for all. Ladies, pull a Brandi Chastain if that’s what makes you happy and more comfortable. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!