We want your views on running shirtless!

July 2014: It has been a year since I have found time to post in this blog. I've released a little flurry by way of compensation. Thank you for the expressions of solidarity that have come my way in the interim.

If you trawl the runners' forums, you will find that the stalwart opponents of 'running shirtless' have not ceded the field! Almost all of them direct their fire at barechested runners (ie the men!); by unspoken agreement no one assails the growing force of jogbraed runners. Why do you suppose that is the case?

To me, the jogbraed and the bare-chested are alike comrades in the battle to reclaim acceptance for attire-light exercise. I continue to welcome guest posts (sent to barethomas@gmail.com) on any related topic, including from those who would discourage stripping to the waist. Let all voices be heard on this site!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Are women taking to shirtlessness in a big way?

I'd never thought I'd say this, but could the ladies be challenging for the lead in our struggle to normalise shirtless running?

Today I googled 'running shirtless' on Blog Search and was quickly reading well-written piece after well-written piece concerning running sans extraneous upper-body attire. Each one by a woman:

- There were 'trying it for the first time' confessionals
- There were 'why you should try this too, girl' proselytisations
- There were even how-to guides on the right attire for shirtless running, complete with clinical discussion on what sort of jogbra to wear and which colour to avoid.

I scanned the Comment sections and almost invariably there was only supportiveness, envy ('I wish I could do it!') and approval being channeled.

Now that I think about it, my own observation at the gym I sometimes use is that more women are adopting the jogbra, while we men stay shirted (of course, gym rules make this mandatory - but that's a gripe for another time).

I'm not complaining, for all sorts of reasons - including the most obvious one. But why is this trend gathering apparent momentum?

One answer puts it down to confidence. As women make strides in arena after arena - now justly sure of their equality - it could only have been a matter of time before this confidence strips away the constraints that inhibit body comfort. Confronted by examples of men who cast aside their shirts to exercise, why should women not partake of the same sense of freedom?

As for why conversions, as we deem it on this blog, should be breaking out all over in the summer of 2012, we might make reference to such things as 'critical mass' (online as well as on the ground) and 'tipping point being reached'. I'm no sociologist, but with every extra jogbraed body out there pounding the pavement, we have an additional role model playing her role. Another sister, or daughter, or mother would have discovered the joys of shirtlessness - and pointing the way to more.


Yet perhaps I should conclude by addressing my fellow men, especially those who feel yet resist that so-natural tug towards tugging off the shirt: The ladies have seen the light, fellows. If once we feared to offend their sensibilities by 'exposing too much', do you need further evidence that there is no erosion of modesty here?

2 comments:

Mrs Hoover said...

You've made a very good point with this post. Way back I on posted on how I'd become involved running in just a sportsbra at 18 and have remained doing so in all weathers for almost 12 years now. Furthermore I "convinced" my husband to also run shirtless too and he's never looked back either :)

I do think a big part of the problem is men in general are reluctant to remove their shirt. Even on a recent holiday to Greece, while out on our early morning runs, we would see men out running with a t-shirt on...with the temperature in the mid 20's at 7 in the morning! No one is expecting/wants you to have a "designer bod" but just to be yourselves!!

In my girlie eyes the problems stem from the politcally correct PE kit which the schools make big money from through exclusive deals and suppliers. Heavens, not that long ago I would walk past the gym on my way to class and see a boys PE group playing basketball as "vests vs skins" or see the whole class go bare top for a fitness lesson. I lost track on the number of times I'd gaze out of the window to watch a group of boys take their vests off outside in all weathers at the start of a lesson. My point...it was a 100% normal! Seriously though exercising like this instils confidence into boys and allows them to become men. It's both natural, practical and low cost too. It's something you'd think would benefit everyone given today's financial and "healthy" climate.

Jamie said...

Interesting thoughts on why men are less inclined to take their shirts off and I have to agree, it does probably stem from their experiences when younger. It's certainly rare to see boys these days doing any sport shirtless other than swimming and I'd assume that's also the case in school. When I was at school every PE class involved shirts vs skins. It made no difference if there was no actual team game during a lesson, half the boys always had to take their tops off. At first I found it nerve wracking having to be a skin but in time I started to feel more comfortable and realise it wasn't such a big deal. Exercising shirtless soon seemed quite normal and I think most boys in my class felt the same.
Schools need to reintroduce shirts vs skins or maybe even a shirtless PE uniform for boys, otherwise more and more will choose to keep their shirts on when it'd be much more comfortable not to.