Yesterday I received a press release from Panache announcing the launch of their new DD+ sports bra. What had the PR company deemed to be its greatest selling point, I wonder? Was it the moisture-wicking fabric, the silicone-encased underwiring, the wide, padded, more comfortable straps? Nope. It was the fact that it reduces ‘breast bounce’ which is great, they chirped “for all those women who want to get one over on the prying men at the gym.”
Are you fucking kidding me? Is what I replied to the email (without the ‘fucking’ – I have to maintain SOME semblance of professionalism). The lack of response indicated they were not.
According to Panache, the biggest issue for women in sport is not their performance, health or even physical comfort, it is being looked at by men. Rather than focussing on running faster or pushing harder, what women should really worrying about is how titillating their breasts are when they jiggle up and down like that.
“The subject of much taboo in the gym and male locker-rooms, lingerie brand Panache has ended the fate that befalls women who enjoy active sports – ‘bouncing boobs’,” reads the release.
“Women can now hit back and enjoy running, cycling and just about every sport that requires repetitive movement – much to the displeasure of ‘roaming eyes’ on the sports arena.”
First and foremost: women wear sports bras not to ‘get one over’ on men but because they’re more comfortable. I mean, what do Panache think is going through our heads? “Haha suckers, don’t even bother looking, I’ve got these puppies wrapped RIGHT up.” Forget embarrassment, it is actually borderline painful to have your breasts chugging up and down during your workout. And the bigger your jugs, the more strain is put on your neck and back to support them. As manufacturers of DD+ bras, Panache ought to understand this. The release does contain a passing reference to the health issues such as muscle strain and tension but the real concerns always seem to come back to the sagging or bouncing.
Secondly, how extremely patronising. We don’t need to ‘hit back’. Sport is not a freaking feminist movement. It’s exercise. If anyone’s made it an issue, it’s Panache. Our breasts move when we do – that is not fate, that is nature. But Panache makes it sound like a terrible curse put upon women for daring to be active.
In any case, if people are going to perve on you in the gym, they’re going to do it no matter what you wear. For Chrissakes, it’s a social arena, it’s normal that we should look at each other. Personally I tend towards the tomato-faced sweat monster end of the spectrum and am constantly surprised that anyone would want to check me out but, you know, it happens. I wear a sports bra along with faded old joggers and a rotation of skanky t-shirts. I appreciate the need to be comfortable but when it comes to form, I’m more concerned with my Downward-facing Dog than my double Ds.
If being looked at bothers you, there are ways of avoiding it. Women-only gyms and classes are available for those who don’t want to exercise in front of men. Fine. When it comes to mixed sports, the way I see it is if the worst people have to say about me is that my breasts bounce then I’m not doing too badly. And when it comes to ‘roaming eyes’, I can hardly complain. After all, it’s not like I’ve never sneaked a peek at a lycra-ensconced lunchbox.
Panache have endeavoured to present their new bra as some kind of triumph over sexism. It is not. And by wrapping it up in this prudish context of locker room gossip and female embarrassment, they end up making an issue out of something that never was.
(Oh… and the alliteration’s rubbish. “Ban the bounce?” Piss off.)