This is Ladies’ Night

Image via NYRR

This invitation arrived in my inbox yesterday.  Often, the emails and newsletters I get from the New York Road Runners are useful or interesting and alert me to things going on in the NYC running community that I may want to be a part of or, at the very least, know about.  I guess it’s good to know about this event, but I don’t have any desire to be a part of it.

I don’t know, part of me wonders if I’m being a bit curmudgeonly here.  But another part of me, and clearly the bigger part of me, since I’ve decided to write this post, is really annoyed by this invitation.  It bothers me that it plays right into and perpetuates the stereotype that women are enticed by pretty things.  There’s no mention of function, performance, or comfort, which are the first few things I look for in any piece of apparel (price is also up there); there’s no reference to innovation or new wicking technology, or anything that references women in sports being athletes who may want something more than “fashionable” clothes to wear while working out.  I can honestly say that I’ve never wondered how to dress fashionably for Spring sports, or Winter, Summer, or Fall sports for that matter.  But I have wondered which pair of running capris is going to be the best performance for my money, what the best way to dress for a long run or a marathon is, and how to choose the right shoes.  You know, practical things that I guess ladies don’t normally think about.

If this event had been primarily marketed as a way to transition from Winter to Spring running as mentioned in the second part of the invitation, I’d be much more interested in going.  I mean, this year is not the first that I’ll be running through that transition period, but it’s always fun to hear new tips and techniques.  If the fashion aspect had been mentioned as just one of several components of the event (for instance, if the invitation had also mentioned performance, or quality, or function, or ANYTHING that could count as a nod to the fact that women consider criteria other than looking good when buying their fitness apparel), I’d be much more interested in going.  Instead I find NYRR’s approach here to be pretty tone deaf.  I wonder (and in a curious way, not an I-bet-this-would-be-different-because-they-obviously-just-hate-women kind of way) if a similar even geared toward men would be marketed in such a one-dimensional, cliché-reliant way?

I know that there are women who do like to look good while they are working out, and I’m not trying to belittle or insult that at all.  Just like plucking one’s eyebrows, choosing to wear fashionable workout clothing is entirely personal, and I completely respect anyone who has a different approach than I do.  But I would still think that even workout apparel fashionistas would be interested in more than just how a piece looks.  It disappoints me that NYRR wouldn’t take the chance to make mention of that at all, and instead just use a tired old stereotype to promote their event.

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13 comments

  1. Actually, my first response to this was to be offended by it. I hate things that, as I see it, kind of “wuss down” the activity they’re about.

    Then I looked at it a different way and kind of thought, you know, maybe they’re looking for ways to get attention for their business and this is a big opportunity for them, and I’m being too sensitive!

    And now I can’t decide which one it is. I’m actually really sympathetic if they’re trying to get business. I’m less so if they’re a corporation and they’re like “women don’t really care about running, they just want to look like they can run and look good at teh same time!” But, this is coming from a completely non-fashion-conscious woman, like I only own two pairs of shoes if that tells you anything, so I think really… I’m being a tad oversensitive. 🙂

    1. Yeah, I’m not really sure how to feel about it. I considered the fact that it might be an innocent way to drum up publicity–and I’m sure it is. I don’t think it’s malicious in any way, I think it’s just stupid and disappointing. New York Road Runners is the organization that organizes just about every race in New York City, including the marathon. It’s pretty high profile and doesn’t really need to draw attention to itself that way. Urban Athletics is a running store with a couple locations in the city, and, although it’s small, it’s well-known among the running community. I can’t see it really needing to resort to something this stupid either. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I’ll let myself be annoyed with this–I know that both groups associated with the event should know better, and instead they’re just being reductive and disrespectful of female athletes.

  2. I remember a few months ago, a lady I follow on twitter and local blogger (clearly NOT a runner or regular exerciser), blogged asking women if they wore their “spanx” to the gym. Seriously.

    And i’m with you- you’re at a gym to work out, not a fashion runway… but I know some girls beg to differ. My main thing is that the shirts I wear are sweat wicking and comfortable. I usually just go for Nike *shrugs*.

    No, workout attire marketed toward men wouldn’t be like this at all. My husband will work out in anything pretty much, just whatever I buy him! Then at some of the races I do, there are men not even wearing shirts (they tend to WIN, btw, maybe that’s the secret to winning a 5k, running it shirtless?).

    A.L.

    1. Haha, sometimes I wonder if wearing less clothing is secret runners’ code for how fast you are! It seems like every time I go to a winter race, the front-of-the-pack runners are wearing shorts. Meanwhile I’m wearing an ear band, gloves, three layers on my upper body, thermal tights…

      Spanx is definitely problematic, especially Spanx at the gym. I can understand thinking, “well, I want to feel comfortable with the way I look, and I do when I wear my Spanx” (which is something that I wish no one would say to themselves–feel comfortable with your own body!) “which is why I wear them to the gym.” But then at the same time, that feeling of comfort probably comes from the way you think other people see you…I mean, I can’t imagine anyone going to the gym or being on a run outside and seeing someone and thinking, “Ugh, she should be wearing Spanx…” It would be nice if our feelings of comfort with our bodies were based less on what we think others think about us…

  3. I definitely don’t pick my running gear by what is “fashionable” but more by what is “functional”. But this type of marketing ploy would actually work… I’ve been helping coach a group of women, beginning 5K group. This is terrible to lump it together like this, but it’s the truth… they’re a bunch of rich doctor’s wives, stay-at-home moms who all care WAY MORE about the cute clothes on display in the store and what each other is wearing than the mileage or technique of form. It’s weird.

    But I agree that events would never be marketed toward men like this, they would get a full rundown on latest technical advances and prices and self-improvement, etc.

  4. i have never been to an event like this where they advertise about shopping, wine, beautification products… etc.

    i also buy my clothes based on what i like, what doesn’t chafe me (!!) and price (!!!). sorry lulu, everyone raves about you but i am not paying $90 for a pair of pants that are going to get grody when i sweat. i have 11 year old champion sports bras that probably cost me $10 that i still wear.

    i sometimes make fun of the women who you can tell are super concerned about matchy matchy…

      1. Your running wardrobe sounds a lot like mine. I’m also (unsurprisingly) not enticed by events that are advertised this way at all, and honestly I think if I went to one I would feel extremely out-of-place.

        I tend to ignore most people’s workout clothes (well, most of the time) unless they seem truly impractical. Have you ever seen Stella McCartney’s line for Adidas? I’ve seen people running in some of that stuff and they just look silly. More than clothing, though, I tend to roll my eyes when I see women at the gym in full make-up. I mean, wouldn’t it just really sting your eyes when your eye make-up started running? Or maybe these women just don’t sweat the way I tend to.

      2. agreed! i have a pretty casual style, so anything super girly makes me feel awkward anyway.

        this stella line is interesting, from what i can see on the adidas page. the fanny pack is a nice touch, as is the raincoat(?) looking thing. i saw a running dress in real life once. maybe it was a tennis outfit and she was just running in it, i don’t know.

        yes! full makeup. there was a “booty shorts girl” at my old gym. she would just get on the elliptical for a few minutes and/or talk to the boys. as you can imagine she wasn’t wearing much clothing and had enough makeup on to last a week.

        i’m bad about smearing any eye makeup on the rare occasion i do wear it, it’d definitely look bad while sweating!

  5. I have to say….I love spandex. I don’t understand how other people work out in baggy clothes. It’s not about how I look to other people (though it DOES feel nice when you catch a glimpse in the mirror and look good!) but more that in tight clothes, I can feel my muscles moving and SEE them. If that makes sense? I just feel way more comfortable in tight stretchy clothes for working out (which, incidentally, I would NEVER wear in a million years in any other setting because they are too tight and revealing, laugh!)

    1. That makes sense to me. My preferences change depending on the activity. When I’m doing yoga, I want as little extra fabric flapping around as possible, so I definitely prefer spandex. I also like spandex as a bottom for cold-weather running because for some reason looser pants drive me nuts. I can deal with loose shorts, though, but I also like more fitted shirts in general. Not necessarily spandex, but not loose either. I just hate having all that extra stuff all over the place, so I understand where you’re coming from. When I see people working out in baggy stuff I wonder how they can do it.

  6. Did any of you attend this to see if it was what you thought it was?? It seems like a pretty harmless invite especially if you say it comes from an outfit that is known in the running community. I really do not find the invite at the least bit offensive and I truely look grungy when I work out- I would attend this. I need things that support me more as I get older and would look into seeing if they had anything that would help me. I think the PF Changs registation expo would be worse than this event would. I guess that you would not want to go to the skirt chasers event. I actually do find it offensive – they have a sports and lingere show after the men chase women in skirts. Look it up – For Real!! A woman started the event to sell her products! The women get a running skirt and the men get a tshirt when you register. The women start the race and the men follow 3 minutes later. There are quite a bit to get upset over out there but a fashion show for sports products is probably not a bad thing. – at least that is my opinion.

  7. Oh I forgot to mention that pretty much any sports mag or advertisement to men have women in them – usually scantily clad or fawning over the men in the ad because of the product so I feel that men are demeaned when we advertise to them. At least ours generally are empowering us to look good not telling us hot guys will like us if we use their product (except garnier fructisse) They get it much worse then we do. Again – just my 2 cents

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