It’s probably not kosher to start your blog off with a rant, but what the hell, athletic gear merchants?
I’m about to participate in my first triathlon. Even though it’s a sprint distance (750 meter swim, 26k bike, 5k run), most of the time I feel pretty badass about it. I’ve been teaching myself to swim by watching Mr. Smooth Stroke (and protesting loudly that it’s not porn), I’ve been biking everywhere, and I’ve been running regularly (even though I think it qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment). Go me, right?
Wrong, according to TYR, Speedo, NeoSport, and pretty much all the other manufacturers of the swimsuits, jerseys, and wetsuits I was looking into buying. (You’d think the one called “Orca” would be nice to fatties, but they’re just as bad as the rest.) Check out this size chart. If you’re a 160 pound woman — just 10 pounds above the national average — guess what? TYR’s largest wetsuit is too small for you. I ran into this over and over again, with “XXLs” for women with 33″ waists. What?
Personally, I’ve lost about 40 pounds but I’m still right on the line between overweight and obese. I’m also tall, and I have broad shoulders and great muscles, so I suspect even when I reach my goal I’ll still be in ‘larger’ sizes. That’s okay. I plan to be the hottest me I can be, and to be in excellent physical condition. But it pisses me off that as a ‘big girl,’ I will probably always have to look harder, spend more, and still settle for athletic clothing that isn’t as attractive as the options available for thinner people.
This industry is elitist and discouraging, when it should be inclusive and embrace everyone who wants to try it out. Triathlon is really fun! Getting gear should be, too.
Anyway, the solution I came to was to rent my wetsuit for this event. These guys are pretty awesome, and sent me a suit that fits for about $60, including shipping. It’s… what’s the opposite of flattering? But it works, and I can revisit this whole dilemma before my next tri. Wish me luck!