A couple of weeks ago, I was at the University’s recreation center, a place I frequently go because I enjoy working out. This day wasn’t out of the ordinary, no one asked for my number, or tried to correct me on my squat form. See, that’s the thing I like about the Rec; for the most part, everyone minds their own business and keeps to themselves. Except for this day in particular. I had probably been in the gym for forty minutes already, and as I was walking away from the water fountain after filling my hydro flask, I noticed a girl trailing me, but thought nothing of it. As I stepped onto a treadmill to begin my cool down, I realized that same girl was still behind me and was now trying to talk to me. I took my earbuds out and looked to my side; she was a monitor at the recreation center. My heart started beating faster because I immediately knew I had done something wrong, but I couldn’t think of what.
I smiled and said hello, and in turn, she apologized before saying, “You can’t wear that in here.”
Confused, I looked down at my Nikes, black leggings, and sports bra. I slowly got off the machine as I asked her what exactly was wrong with my outfit.
“You can’t wear sports bras in here, only in the locker rooms.” She said after apologizing again.
I told her it was okay, I wasn’t mad at her personally. But I felt it was necessary to mention that I see shirtless guys at the Rec all the time, and if they’re not shirtless, they’re wearing “bro tanks” that might as well be considered shirtless too since they’re cut so low and open. I also mentioned how this was my fourth time going to the center wearing a sports bra and the only time I’ve been reprimanded for it. To this, she replied that they do their best to monitor everyone, and it mostly depends on the manager on duty if the rule is enforced or not.
If I’m being completely honest, I find this is to be an absolutely ridiculous rule. Not only is the rule outdated, it contributes to the much greater problem that women face in terms of sexism. Here’s how; by regulating what you can and can’t wear, a powerplay is created. What I mean by this, is that anyone in charge of the floor has the jurisdiction to say someone’s outfit is inappropriate. If you can’t wear just a sports bra, does that mean you can’t wear crop tops? What about spandex shorts? Can I wear a sports bra with a see-through mesh tank top to cover it? See, it’s a ridiculous concept that condemns the human body in a place where they should be celebrated and free.
I was told later by staff members, that I should not have been kicked out of the gym at first. Apparently, protocol says to ask the person if they have a shirt they can put on before asking them to leave. The thing is though, I wouldn’t have wanted to stay anyway, I felt so uncomfortable; I got out of there as fast as I could. The Recreation Center’s reasoning for not allowing sports bras to be worn alone is because it is a “health risk.” I'm not sure how that's realistic, but if you want my opinion, preventing me from working out is a risk to my health.