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Plus Size Women Resort to Wearing Men's Clothing to the Gym

Active women size 14 and up have no choice but to wear men's clothing when exercising, according to a study done by Washington State University.

Published in the journal Fashion and Textiles, the study discovered that many plus size women who exercise are unable to find activewear in their sizes and resort to menswear to work out. The study called plus size women dressing in menswear to work out a form of "cross dressing."

“Many [women in the study] talked about hiking, attending exercise classes, swimming, biking and walking/running, says Nicole O’Donnell, Ph.D. student in WSU’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication and co-author of the study. "But not having exercise clothing readily available in their sizes was discouraging and was seen as a barrier to participating in these activities.”

The study revealed most popular athletic brands rarely offer sizes larger than XL for women. Some brands are unfair with who gets the extended sizing: One exercise apparel company had eight items in its women’s plus-size line but offered more than 200 items up to size 4XL for men.

What was most disheartening in the study was how the women observed felt it wasn't possible to be obese and feminine in activewear because there is no variety in clothing, and, to quote the story "weight loss was the only solution to express feminine gender."

All is not lost. There are more retail companies who are expanding its activewear line for plus size women (Lane Bryant and Lucy come to mind, and Athleta launched a size inclusion initiative). FabUplus is dedicated to plus size women and fitness. It may not be the overhaul we're looking for, but the more we see ourselves in the mainstream, the more comfortable we'll feel speaking up for what's right for us.


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