At one point, I was pretty het up over whether (as it is sometimes alleged in online screeds) most women take offense at the sight of shirtless runners. My wife, for one, thinks most shirtless runners - and shirtless sportsmen in general - should stay fully clothed to ward off potentially 'terrifying elderly folk'. Seeking to canvass a broader spectrum of opinion, I broached the topic to a good friend of mine: A woman who does not exercise regularly, wouldn't be seen dead in a jogbra and is fairly conservative overall. Three interesting points emerged:
First, she admitted to being surprised to learn that I had 'turned shirtless runner on her'. She had felt that most men who chose to go shirtless, and to a lesser extent the jogbra crowd among women, were mostly trying to show off their physiques. Yet she knew that I did not fall into the 'exhibitionist maniac' category, so she was interested to know 'what boxes it ticked for me'.
Second, she said that going shirtless was not the worst sin in her book. Worse were men who 'wore mesh shirts with loads of little holes'. If you felt the weather was stifling - or if you felt your body could really bring joy to millions, she said, it was more honest to simply go without a shirt than to opt for 'those things'.
Third, regardless of her personal preferences (hopefully modified by our little chat), she did not think that going shirtless in contexts like exercising or even strolling down the street was to commit some sort of social faux pas. But she knew of friends who thought otherwise.
My friend's observations solidified my sense that to to convert to shirtless running is to accept a certain responsibility: That of potentially affecting the views of the multitudes who simply don't have many friends who admit to being of the shirtless persuasion. Most folks, in other words, simply form their impressions based on those of us they encounter fleetingly in the streets, in the parks or at sports stadiums. There are no doubt out-and-out poseurs among us, but I've no reason to think that the majority of us fall into that category.
May 2015: First up, though I still try to put up blog content whenever I can, it has been easier to more regularly visit the the Twitterverse. Follow me at @barethomas10 and let's keep the shirtless running flag flying. Of course, the blog still attracts very interesting comments, and good discussion. Keep it up.
Second, in the years since this venture launched, and as shirtless running among women has gone increasingly mainstream, the term "jogbra" has clearly declined in use. I will thus prefer "sportsbra" henceforth - as has already been the case on Twitter, and in recent posts here.
I continue to welcome guest posts (sent to email@example.com) on any related topic, including from those who would discourage stripping to the waist. I am myself of course a fervent convert to the joys of running bare. But let all voices be heard!