So where did this begin? Why do I want to create my own activewear line?
I’ve never been completely happy with my weight, and exercise is something that I previously dabbled in but never really committed to. My weight would creep up to around 100kg, and I’d bring it back down with a low calorie diet. I was able to fit the “main” clothing brands — well, those that stretched (sometimes literally) to a size 18.
At 32 I got pregnant, and after the usual amount of time gave birth to my son Jules. After this, a few things happened at once: my partner accepted a job with a software company from Silicon Valley, which meant two interstate moves and a lot of travel for him. Meanwhile, I stayed home with the new baby, no friends or family and not a whole lot to do. I packed on the kilos and was mostly miserable.
Eventually we settled into Sydney’s Inner West. I went back to work, we made friends with the neighbours and, although he was still travelling, at least my partner was around most evenings. I came out of my bubble and realised I was becoming a bubble — 127kg. So, still unhappy, but now I was determined: I wanted to get back to me. I saw a doctor, got a referral to an exercise physiologist and a dietician, and my journey began.
Now, one of the first things I like to do when starting something new is to get properly “kitted out”. I’d already started shopping the “plus size” section of various department stores, but for some reason it didn’t prepare me for the kick to the guts I got when I tried to buy some gym clothes: pickings were slim (oh the irony!) and what they did have was poorly made, cheap fabric and featuring boring designs. I would head to a major, “woman-friendly” store and leave with a drab t-shirt, or pants two sizes too big just to be sure they’d actually fit.
Needless to say, I was not inspired by my activewear!!
I carried on regardless, dejected but not defeated, until I added a daily 7km walk to my exercise regime — which gave me plenty of time to observe, and to think. I would put on some headphones and go. Many of you will know what it feels like to get into the groove: sweating, feeling the burn in your legs and liking it.
So there I would be, powering along towards the top of a particular hill — music blasting, blood pumping — and feeling amazing. I wanted to yell, I was so full of energy. I didn’t feel fat. I didn’t feel anything about my body’s dimensions; I was just me: strong, powerful, equal to everyone else out there busting their arses off. Exercise was fun.
I realised that trying to make activewear exclusive, which so many brands are doing, is not just infuriating: it’s offensive and socially irresponsible.
“Aspirational marketing” is one thing, but shaming people who just wanna get out and move by forcing them to wear unflattering, cheaply made outfits? Enforcing the view that to sweat like a pro you had to fit a certain size, a certain mould?
Exercise is empowering. It should be inclusive. Anyone who gets out there deserves to be supported, their efforts and achievements celebrated. We need to challenge the negative stereotypes of who is “allowed” to exercise, and who gets to look and feel great doing it.