Thursday, May 6, 2010

An Open Letter to Outdoor Divas, Purveyors of Women's Fitness Wear

Dear Outdoor Divas,

I found out about your site from an ad that popped up on my Facebook author page. I’m the author of two fitness books for the world at large, Slow Fat Triathlete and Shape Up with the Slow Fat Triathlete, so I was interested to see what kind of great gear you had for women in the outdoors (and indoors).

Imagine my disappointment when I found that your online store does not offer one single item in extended sizes. Your “about” page states that “Women are not small men.” This is extremely true. It is also true that not all women are small, and not all active women are small. An estimated one-third of American women wear size 16 or larger. The teeny-weeny sizing associated with most women’s fitness brands won’t even fit an average size 14. Do you really want to exclude 33% to 40% of the entire female gender from being a part of your “group of passionate, active women (and men) who love being outside in every season”?

As an endurance athlete whose “racing weight” is well above 200 pounds, I can’t help thinking that your view of an outdoor diva might be a little narrow. I’m a cross-country skier, a cyclist, a triathlete,a swimmer, a paddler. I’ve engaged in yoga, salsa dancing, marathoning, backpacking, strength training, sea kayaking, disc golf, and open water swimming, just in the past four years, and I’ve needed technical clothing that fits me well for a lot of those activities. I’m happy to spend money on good gear, though I want fair pricing.
And you know what? There are thousands of women out there just like me, who just happen to wear sizes 1X-4X or larger.

Until you broaden your horizons and expand your perspective on what outdoor athletes might look like, I will continue to shop at Team Estrogen, REI, and Junonia for my fitness wear. And (sigh) wear men’s fitness clothes too.

Think bigger.

Jayne Williams


  1. Can I get an AMEN SISTAH ?!!!

  2. You said it sistah!!!!

  3. Very well said! I hate not being able to find athletic clothes that fit correctly. We deserve to have cute clothes too!!! :)

  4. When I find something that fits and is great(I will no longer settle for ok) I buy A LOT.So sad we are left out of so much of the market because of the assumption that fat= inactive. Thank God for you Jayne!!!!

  5. Write your own letters, and/or send me emails of businesses I should target for mild public excoriation!

  6. I just got directed to your site by a woman who knows both of us. She read my woes on my blog about shopping last night for hiking gear. Holy cow, what an experience! I literally had to buy a men's size XXL-30L because my size 18 butt wouldn't fit in their size 16's that are barely a size 14. I can't tell you how discouraged I felt last night -- I've lost 75 pounds so far; and though I don't look great as I have another 75 to lose, I feel better not lugging around all that weight. That went out the window last night as apparently, as I found out, hiking has a weight limit. o_O

  7. I just saw your comment about letting you know who to knock upside the head. One is Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) in Dulles, VA, who didn't even have MEN'S sizes past size 40! The other is REI in Fairfax, VA. They at least had the men's XXL, and apparently they carry SOME women's extended sizes. On one rack they had pants up to size 16 and then TWO size 24W's (I'm an 18W)! The girl on the floor said that sometimes REI sends odd sizes like that or they may be returns from web purchases. So apparently they EXIST, but they don't carry them.