Goodbye, 'Jogbra'...

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 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!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

From the Internet: Desist, shirtless runners!

On the running scene, certainly in the USA, shirtlessness/jogbra-ness is common enough. There are some veteran members of the running community who are unhappy about this. Paul Staso, in a recent thoughtful blog entry (click here for the link), makes these observations regarding decorum among runners. While I would obviously not agree with the details of what he might consider decorous, his thoughts are at least worth thinking about:

Of course, males running shirtless and females wearing only sport bras has become more common over the past 10 years... but does the mere passing of time make it appropriate?

I often pick up my daughters from volleyball practice at their public high school and see the boys and girls cross country team returning from a training run on the streets of our town. Autumn in western Montana often brings many 80-degree days, and more often than not the boys are shirtless and the girls can be seen wearing nothing more than an athletic bra from the waist up. When I ran on my high school's cross country team back in the early 1980's, all boys were required to wear a shirt (nothing less than a singlet) and girls had to wear at least a bra and T-shirt. Now a days, many girls who opt to wear a shirt purposefully cut their T-shirts down the sides so that there is hardly any material there, clearly showing their sports bras, and many boys don't wear a shirt at all - even though there are high-performance, moisture-wicking fabrics available for today's runners.

Why has this trend developed? Is it being influenced by young coaches, media or advertising? Where is the pride in representing your school on your town's streets - or some other town's streets - by dressing appropriately? Do high school kids take time to think about how they may be influencing younger kids, or how they may be offending older people? By running around without shirts on, or in only sports bras, are they really drawing the kind of attention to themselves that they want?

Unfortunately, it's not just the kids that are dressing in nearly nothing to run around my local community while training for cross country races. Often, I see their male coaches (usually 20-something-year olds) running without shirts or female coaches wearing only sports bras.

So, what do you think? Are males running shirtless through communities and females running in only sport bras inappropriate and/or immodest?


Shirtless Robbie said...

Yes, Paul Staso's blog entry was thoughtful and worth reading. I left a thoughtful reply in the comments. I realize there are some people who have quite different views about what is appropriate, but I also realize that I can never please everyone anyway. I specifically know people in this area who feel that it is inappropriate for a man to wear clothing which ever exposes his armpits or knees. Yet, if I strictly observed these guidelines, others would consider me weird and condemn my wardrobe as "legalistic". I think we all have to find a healthy balance, being modest(1) and culturally appropriate, without being excessively restricted or self-conscious.

1 - I actually dislike the word "modest" as applied to customs regarding covering the body. It seems to imply that one who exposes more skin does so out of pride, which is frequently not the case. But "body shame" is not really an appropriate term either, since it doesn't necessarily refer to being ashamed of one's body, perhaps only considering a certain level of exposure inappropriate in a certain context. If anyone knows a better word to describe this desire to cover parts of the body in certain social contexts, let me know, because I have been searching for a word or even short phrase that can accurately and unambiguously describe this concept, and have nothing thus far. I would even be willing to adopt a word from a foreign language...

barethomas said...

Some deep thinking here, and I'm afraid it'll have to be a more learned person who can supply an adequate word.

It's interesting, however that you should refer to a "desire" to cover parts of the body, rather than - say - a "settled convention". Are we therefore seeking a better way of capturing the sometimes interlinked societal pressures that act upon someone (a runner, say) or are venturing to name the internal feelings-cum-thoughts that lead the individual to bundle up or strip down?

Shirtless Robbie said...

I use the term "desire" because it is something personal that varies from one person to another within a culture. However, I am describing the desire to cover certain parts of the body in certain situations based on the perception of social conventions about what is appropriate or what kind of image a certain way of dressing conveys. Of course, many of us experience a conflict between these desires and our desires to be free and comfortable. What I am describing is basically what we commonly call modesty, describing the perceived need to cover more of your body as being more modest. What I want to get away from is the implication that this desire is the inverse of pride, or the ambiguity as to whether you are referring to humbleness or merely the perceived need to cover yourself due to social norms and stigmas. Aside from the association with pride/humility, I think the common usage of modesty fits this concept pretty well.

Ryan said...

I think Paul Staso needs to lighten up. Why is he so disturbed at the sight of the human body? We all have one! These people aren't running about naked for heaven's sake!