Sportswomen’s Apparel in the United States: Uniformly Discussed
Edited by Linda K. Fuller
An Introduction to American Sportswomen’s Apparel 1
Linda K. Fuller
Part I Historical Perspectives 17
Chapter 1: “Exercise Requires the Greatest Freedom”; Athletic
Clothing for American Women, 1880–1920 19
Nancy G. Rosoff
Chapter 2: Of Tennis Dresses, Golf Sweaters and Bicycling
Shorts; College Women and the Making of the American
Sportswear Industry, 1890–1960 35
Deirdre Clemente and Evan M. Casey
Part II Socio-Political Perspectives 55
Chapter 3: Blocked Out; Athletic Voices and WNBA
Uniform Politics 57
Meredith M. Bagley and Judy Liao
Chapter 4: Apathy and/or Ambivalence?; Women’s Sport and
Military Promotion 75
Part III Socio-Cultural Perspectives 89
Chapter 5: “It’s Always Something”; The Scrutiny of Female
Sportscasters’ Professional Clothing 91
Dunja Antunovic and Kellee Clay
Chapter 6: Jumping Through Hoops; A Post-structural
Gendered Critique of Magazine Covers Depicting Female
Chapter 7: Exploring Plus-Size Exercise Apparel as a Social
Justice Issue; Understanding How All Pants ARE NOT Created
Caitlyn Hauff and Christy Greenleaf
Chapter 8: In Flo Jo Fashion; The Cultural Appropriation
of Sportswomen’s Apparel 153
Leelanee K. Malin
Chapter 9: Buying What’s for Sale?: Running, Flirting, and
Fashion at the Skirt Chaser 5k Race Series 167
Claire M. Williams
Part IV Sport-Specific Perspectives 185
Chapter 10: Skating with Style; Rolling with Reflection and
Resistance in Roller Derby Uniforms and Fashion 187
Colleen English and Heidi Mau
Chapter 11: “We Wear So Little”; Collegiate Women
Gymnasts’ Reflections on Their Uniforms 205
Emily Fairchild and Elizabeth A. Gregg
Chapter 12: “I’m Too Sexy for My Shirt”; The LPGA
Dress Code 217
Elizabeth A. Gregg, Elizabeth A. Taylor, and Robin Hardin
Chapter 13: Badass CrossFit Women; Redefining Traditional
Femininity, One Handstand Push-Up at a Time 231
Caitlyn Hauff, Christina Gipson, Hannah Bennett, and
Nancy L. Malcom
Chapter 14: A Feminist Media Analysis of the
Digiulian-Kinder Incident; Rock Climber
Cyber-Bullying on Instagram 249
Leandra Hinojosa Hernández
Introduction to American Sportswomen’s Apparel
Analyzing gender norms and gender binaries in terms of uniforms, it turns out, provides a valuable means for understanding societal attitudes toward sporting females. Linda K. Fuller, Female Olympians (2016, p. 71) As we continue to challenge traditional sexist barriers about female athletes’ appearances, these chapters loosely fall into categories of historical, sociopolitical, sociocultural, and sport-specific perspectives. Specifically, you will be enlightened here by chapters in these subdivisions:
Nancy G. Rosoff traces athletic clothing for American women from 1880 to 1920, while Deirdre Clemente and Evan M. Casey introduce us to the tennis dresses, golf sweaters, and bicycling shorts that college women wore from 1890 to 1960 (clue: they are a far cry from Kim Kardashian West’s thigh-length Lycra numbers).
Meredith M. Bagley and Judy Liao discuss WNBA uniform politics in protests such as the Black Lives Movement, and Molly Yanity examines the absence of military promotion in women’s team sports.
Dunja Antunovic and Kellee Clay scrutinize female sportscasters’ professional clothing, Kate Harman offers a gendered critique of magazine covers depicting female athletes, Caitlyn Hauff and Christy Greenleaf explore how plus-size apparel is a social justice issue, Leelannee K. Malin analyzes FloJo fashion as cultural appropriation, and Claire M. Williams uses the SkirtSports to check intersections of running, flirting, and fashion.
Colleen English and Heidi Mau undertake a “clothes’ textual analysis of female roller derby participants; Elizabeth Fairchild and Elizabeth Gregg report on collegiate women gymnasts’ reflections on their uniforms; Elizabeth A. Gregg, Elizabeth A. Taylor, and Robin Hardin report how the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) dress code polices players; Caitlyn Hauff, Christina Gipson, Nancy L. Malcom, and Hannah Bennett bring us badass CrossFit women; and Leandra Hinojosa Hernandez analyzes women climbers’ clothing vis-a-vis the social construction of thinness through cyberbullying media discourses.
Uniformly, any of my friends can confirm that I am clearly not a fashionista, even if I have always been intrigued by fabric and textures. My grandmother’s Singer Sewing Machine has helped me produce everything from my bridal gown to bedspreads and curtains and, more recently, quilts and simple repairs. Mainly, though, I adore costumes, constructed lately for Armenia, Cuban, Tanzanian, and other dinner parties we have hosted. It probably wasn’t until meeting Mary Peacock, coeditor of the 1970s’ counterculture magazine Rags that I became sensitized to the notion that clothing could make such bold statements.
A word about the Dedication. My first thought was to honor the Williams sisters for their contributions to my tennis wardrobe, but the more I determined how many female athletes have their own sportswear lines, it seemed appropriate to cite them. All that, of course, doesn’t even take into consideration celebrity lines such as Beyonce’s Ivy Park or Jessica Biel’s Gaiam, or Kate Hudson’s Fabletics, and names of other such entrepreneurs are welcome. With the encouragement of Lough and Geurin’s (2019) proclamation that women’s sport is breaking ground both economically and socially, never mind Mattel’s gender-neutral Barbie doll, the time should be right for this study.
Thanks to a recent panel on “The problem of appearance for women journalists and athletes” at a Women, Sports and Media conference at the University of Maryland, this project began to take its own form. As we are positioned in an age of the #MeToo movement, overarching concerns about gender parity, discrimination, and sexual exploitation demand our attention. Nowhere are these issues more relevant, it turns out, than in women’s sportswear—whether that be bloomers, sports bras, thongs, tennis “whites,” wet suits, studio socks, unitards, hijabs, plus-size pants, cashmere loungewear, and/or athleisurewear.
Just before submitting this book it was my pleasure to have chaired a panel on “Women’s sportswear relative to social justice” with several of its contributors at the annual meeting of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS). Clearly, while rhetorical activism can help fulfill many goals, our main one here is to sensitize the sportswear buying public to its many sociopolitical implications.