When Weirdness becomes Welcomed

Sport Bras

“Why isn’t there a jock strap for women?”  Victoria Woodrow

Typical Sports Bra

Typical Sports Bra

When you relocate to a new country, you begin to notice different customs, behaviors and norms of the area. Although blending in and respecting cultural differences in your new surroundings is of significant importance, you may find some behaviors, attitudes, or cultural differences that are somewhat bizarre and perhaps even bothersome to you. Like the vast under utilization of sports bras in the Lavaux region of Switzerland.

I will freely admit to being an athletic equipment snob sometimes basing the ‘seriousness’ of the athlete by the quality of their athletic clothing and equipment. Athletic equipment and clothing is designed to improve your performance and comfort whether it be running, biking, yoga, snow skiing, tennis, volleyball, etc. In my mind, a sports bra qualifies as a necessary sport equipment item for women. Wikipedia defines a sports bra as “A bra that provides additional support to female breasts during physical exercise. Sturdier than typical bras, they minimize breast movement, alleviate discomfort, and reduce potential damage to chest ligaments. 

Joan Benoit winning the first women's Olympic marathon in 1984. A giant step for women athletes even if without a sports bra.

Joan Benoit winning the first women’s Olympic marathon in 1984. A giant step for women athletes even if without a sports bra.

Running Requires a Sports Bra

Running around Lake Geneva is when I first began to notice the lack of sports bra usage in Switzerland as I observed my fellow female runners. Running shorts, check; running top, check; running shoes . . . .sorta a check BUT sports bra . . . not so much. It appeared that most women runners were wearing a lingerie type bra which would not provide their breasts the support and comfort needed for running. . . .so strange.

In fact, the invention of the modern sports bra has its origins from the world of female runners and the beginning of equality for female collegiate athletes in the United States. The first modern sports bra was invented by a frustrated long distance runner, Lisa Lindahl.  In an unlikely fashion, Lisa literally attached two male  by sewing them together thus inventing the ‘jockbra’.  The first  modern sports bra quickly improved and became know as a jogbra.  Kelly Bastone’s interesting article entitled The History of the Sports Bra gives a detailed account of this 37-year-old wonderful creation.(http://www.ladiesonlysports.com/sports-bra-history/).

Being a Female on a Yoga Mat; Sports Bra Please

So for me, women running without a sports bra seemed like such a step backwards for women athletes. When I began attending yoga classes on a regular basis, I noticed the same thing regarding sports bras.  The female yoga participants are all sports geared up with quality yoga pants, yoga tops, yoga head bands, lululemon yoga mats (http://www.lululemon.ch/home.jsp) . . . but strangely missing . . . sports bras.  Again, my observation is that many of the women in the yoga studio I attend in Lausanne wear lingerie type bras. For some unknown reason, it was irritating for me to see women in yoga clothing with lingerie bra straps showing.  Yoga, of course, does not require the same level of control from a sports bra as running; however, a sports bra still would serve women yogis well providing maximum comfort and freedom.

Sports bra in action.

Sports bra in action.

Et Voilà

Then, the moment came when the perceived ‘weirdness’ of missing sports bras became ‘welcomed’!  Arriving to yoga in time to change into my valued sports bra . . .I discovered I had forgotten it! Horror, then relief. Having an epiphany, I simply wore my lingerie bra and my undergarment tank top without shame, embarrassment or a single strange look from any of my fellow yogis. So be careful about what irritates you because in the very near future it might be what you welcome . . . so much to learn so little time! Even though I completely believe that a sports bra is indispensable for female athletes, it was wonderful to be able to relax and feel a different type of freedom. La vie en Suisse!


Helen H. Thomas, Licensed Clinical Social Worker providing E-therapy via http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/name/Helen_Hobart_Thomas_LCSW_Fort+Worth_Texas_197844

“You express your own divinity by being alive and by loving yourself and others.”
― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (http://www.amazon.com/Four-Agreements-Practical-Personal-Freedom/dp/1878424319/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416333771&sr=1-1&keywords=the+four+agreements+by+don+miguel+ruiz)


About HelenHThomas

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I am honored to work at Cook Children's Medical Center as a Clinical Therapist providing supportive counseling for the parents of our tiniest patients in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I feel infinitely thankful to share my life with my best friend and life partner, Dr. Charles R. Thomas (Chuck). Spending time with my wildly fantastic adult children, their spouses and our exceptionally wonderful friends makes my life complete. Life is good!
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