How Sports Companies Treat Women – A Rant

Be warned. This post is a rant. Maybe not as heated as the great brushetta* rant of 2011 which is still spoken of in hushed tones on the shores of Lake Garda, but a rant never the less. It is also a rant in three parts, so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Part One. Once I got into running and started buying ‘proper’ running kit (rather than shuffling along in old trainers and jeans hoping anyone seeing me wouldn’t realise I was trying to run) I quickly realised that many companies seem to believe that if a product is designed specifically for Women, it has to be Pink. Pink running tops, pink shorts, pink head bands, pink water bottles, even pink running shoes. When I got home with my latest pair of unfortunately pink Brooks I immediately found a muddy path to run along to try and tone them down.

PINK!
PINK!

Now don’t get me wrong, I know there are plenty of women who don’t mind pink, and plenty who adore it and the colour alone will sway their purchasing decisions. I would just like sports companies to appreciate that not ALL women want to dress like an overgrown Barbie doll each time they step outside to run.

And so to part two of my rant – cycling. I have been impressed when looking at all types of cycling gear that companies producing the goods haven’t had the “all women want pink” brain washing. Hooray! I thought – a sport where women are treated seriously as sportspeople and consumers!

Then I found SportsPursuit selling a range of ladies bibshorts made by Italian firm Giordana.

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After tweeting tbem, Sport Pursuit told me they were only using the product images supplied by the manufacturer, but after posting the above screen shot on Twitter I know from the responses I got that I wasn’t the only one who was shocked and disappointed.

“I’m a red-blooded hetro male and I’m appalled. How is women’s cycling ever going to be taken seriously with ads like that?!”

“that’s pretty poor. And totally unnecessary. Also not appealing to target market!”

“Is this really how women (let alone women in sport) are seen?”

“Jaw-drop moment! Utterly amazed.”

“Oh wow. That’s not right.”

” So insulting to your female customers. Try telling them that’s not acceptable in the UK”

You get the general idea of the tone of the tweets I received. We were ranting in unison. As you might have guessed, I didn’t buy that particular brand of shorts, but instead a fantastically comfortable pair in black with blue stitching, although the padding inside was still PINK. Sigh.

And so to part three, my new bike. Having tried my husband’s bike I was interested ina bike designed more for the female anatomy (our body length to leg length ratio are different, and women are generally narrower across the shoulders). I was delighted that of the two women’s bikes I looked at, neither of them had any pink on them. Both were full of the same technical features as the men’s version, both were light, and the man in the shop assured me I would be fast on them. We eventually chose a Trek Lexa SL, in white with green ‘go faster’ strips on.

Me on my lovely Trek Lexa
Me on my lovely Trek Lexa

My husband also has a Trek bike and has been extremely happy with it. When he was out in the garage ‘fettling’ the other day, he called me out and said “Have you seen underneath your bike?”

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Best Friends Forever. What is this – Hello Kitty?

Best Friends Forever? BEST FRIENDS FOREVER?!! What is this – a ‘Hello Kitty’ bike? Does Jens Voigt** have a bike with “BFF” on? I doubt it. I suspect his bike has the phrase that is on my husband’s Trek bike “Power Transfer Construction“. Slightly more grown up.

Power Transfer Construction
Power Transfer Construction

Give me a minute to calm down again.

And breathe. I’m in my happy place. It’s not pink in here.

So – rant over. in fact, 3 rants all rolled up into one. Why can’t sports manufacturers & companies treat women like sports people. Like athletes. In the same way that they treat men. We’re not children, we’re not simple, our bike is NOT necessarily our best friend, we have brains. We also have wallets and credit cards so ladies, let’s use our consumer power to show these companies what we want, and what we won’t put up with.

If you have any more examples of how women are treated different to men when buying sporting products, please do share with me and feel free to join in my rant!

* “It’s just stuff on toast!!! Why does it take 45 minutes to produce stuff on toast” is a precis of what was a very long rant on a hot and hungry day.

** My all-time favourite pro-cyclist who coined the phrase “Shut up, legs!”, who goes geocaching, who has 6 children, who tweeted my son after his arm breaking bike crash saying he hoped he healed quickly, and who just seems like an all-round good guy. He currently rides for the pro team Trek Factory Racing. I need to ask him what is written on his bike.

11 thoughts on “How Sports Companies Treat Women – A Rant”

  1. Oh I am SO with you on this! I was so angry about those shorts. And that thing with your bike is just astonishing!! The disappointing one for me recently was the Hind range at Sweatshop. Great idea to have an affordable range but nothing that wasn’t black or pink in the winter range and now the summer range. Ugh.

    1. I was in the Nike Outlet shop yesterday. The Women’s Running section was basically white (never practical), black (not in the summer thank you) or bright pink. Sigh!

  2. I’m with you in the pink, it makes feel so dejected to receive sports clobber for women that has some flash of pink.
    I’m particularly upset by your bike though. BFF is just too naff for words and devalues your steed. I think I’d have to cover it up so I could attempt to forget it was there.

    1. Oh the flashes of pink. It’s like they just can’t stop themselves. I’m thinking of trying to find another sticker to cover it up. What should I put on it instead, do you think?

  3. Great rant! I know that you know my feelings on pink and women’s products as we’ve chatted about it. I had this same rant to the sales guy in the St Pauls London store when I was bike shopping. Most of the women’s road bikes I looked at were white, which is fine. They either had bright green and blue or purple and grey colour accents. I bought the white, purple, and grey and I love it. I also looked at men’s road bikes but didn’t like their colour selection much either. I purchased the bike that I preferred to ride so I’m just glad the one I wanted wasn’t too girly!!!! I wouldn’t have purchased.

    My rant was over one of the women’s displays in the shop. There were cycle tops and accessories such as puncture kits and drink bottles. All in pink and lilac. Now, I like lilac but let rip on the sales dude anyway. He took it really well. I’m sure my rant won’t change anything in the store but it felt good anyhow.

    The other bike I was looking at buying was the Trek Lexa, because who doesn’t want to ride a bike with the same name as them, and because it was mint green, my fav colour! It also had good specs. On the day I was going to go look at it in the shop, I was tired and couldn’t find the shop. So I consider myself lucky for dodging that BFF bullet. How friggin’ awful. I hope you find something awesomely techy to cover it up with!

    1. Now that would have been really cool to have a bike with the same name as you! I am still considering the new phrase – as a novice rider I can’t put anything too ‘hard’ or I’ll just look silly as I lie on the floor having fallen off again!

      I think the more we point this pink-thing out to sales people / companies / brands etc the more they’ll realise it can be a turn OFF to purchasing for some women. Hit them in the balance sheet – then they’ll listen.

  4. Covering up the BFF with white electrical tape could be a good way initially. Lucky it’s underneath your bike. I gave my bike a detailed check over last night to make sure there were no hidden horribles and there weren’t, thankfully. I thought I saw BFF on one of the rails but it only says 3F. Phew.

    1. White electrical tape is a good thought. I’m laughing at what must have been your expression at *thinking* you’d seen BFF on your bike! (What does 3F stand for though?! Hopefully just a model number and not “Friendship, Fun, Frolics” or something equally idiotic.)

  5. You know how it feels when all the blood rushes to your head and makes your eyes bulge out of your head? It was like that! Whilst I’m all about frolicking, I had to Google to make sure. Thankfully, 3F is all about geometry, engineering, and performance. Fit, Form, and Function. *wipes brow*

    1. ‘Fit, Form and Function’ is an excellent motto / slogan for a sports company! Maybe it should be 4F though, to add some frolicing in there as well 😉

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