Well-known Aussie comedian Hannah Gadsby tells a funny but frustrating tale about a time she was cycling up a hill and a man shouted out a car window at her: “Hey fatty! Do some exercise!” Let’s re-read that sentence, shall we, focusing on the phrase ‘she was cycling up a hill…’
As ridiculously ironic as this story is, it evokes perfectly the challenge I regularly face as an active plus-size woman. The very thing we’re meant to do to be fit and healthy – exercise – comes with opportunities to be mocked and ways to be excluded. The fear of failure or ridicule can be a real barrier to anyone wanting to make lifestyle changes, take up sport or sign up to a new program, so the more we can do to break down that fear, the better.
The Worst Workout Gear
Workout clothes for women are mostly tight, short and revealing, three styles of clothing larger people are told not to wear. Spend more than a little time on the internet and you can find Tumblr posts, Facebook groups and even news stories making fun of bigger people for the clothes they wear and the way they present themselves.
So, we get told off for wearing the very clothes we need in order to live a healthy and active lifestyle! These clothes also tend not to come larger than a size 14 or, if you’re lucky, size 16.
“Lose weight,” people say. “Sure,” I reply. “But do you want me to come to the gym naked?” Probably not.
Daggy, Frumpy and Fed Up
Buying plus-size clothes can be a nerve-wracking or upsetting experience, especially in a sportswear shop designed for typically sporty people. I’ve often wished I could just cut through the awkwardness, march into the store and shout, “Where do I find the workout clothes for fat chicks, please?” Why beat around the bush if that’s what I’m looking for, right?
Instead, I end up putting together incredibly daggy combinations of poor-quality leggings and over-sized men’s T-shirts. It’s hardly an ensemble that represents my lifestyle. In fact, wearing these kind of clothes makes me not want to leave the house!
Going to the gym, I want to feel like I fit in and I want to wear clothes designed for my body and the way it moves. I don’t want to hide it under frumpy dark colours like I’m ashamed to be who I am, because whatever size you are, the most attractive qualities you can exhibit are confidence and comfort.
Workout Gear I Want to Wear
I want breathable, durable fabrics and a range of options for cut, length and colour. If you think I sound demanding, remember that I’m only expecting the same range of clothing options that everyone else gets. Affordability is important. Now, I know affordability is important for everyone, but it’s especially the case for someone trying to lose weight because they may not need the clothes for as long as someone who’s maintaining their size.
We live in a country with a beautifully diverse population. A whole variety of races and cultures make up Australia, and with them we have people of all different shapes and sizes. We’re a country proud of our sporty, outdoor lifestyle, so isn’t it about time we made that lifestyle equally available to everyone? Creating colourful, fun and comfortable workout clothes for plus-size women isn’t rocket science, so why isn’t everyone doing it?
Here’s the Gear I Want
Well, someone has, and that someone is Michelle Bridges. Her new Active+ range comes in styles and colours I love and, best of all, they fit me and suit my body shape. Finally I can enjoy working out feeling like myself instead of feeling awkward and uncomfortable.
While I have your attention, I’m going to ask one quick favour. Next time you see someone cycling up a hill, just leave them to go about their day. Seriously. And if you see a larger person at the gym, whatever they’re wearing, stick to the rule your parents taught you – if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!
The Michelle Bridges Active+ range caters for sizes 18 to 26 and is now available at Big W stores nationwide. Find your nearest store.
Maeve Marsden is a writer, project manager, director, producer and performer who lends her passions to the arts, as well as to social justice campaigns and organisations she believes in.
I hate to say this but I’ve now have been to five Big W stores from Lismore NSW, to Chermside , QLD looking for a new set of MB active wear in size 20 to no avail. I can see all the new line for the smaller sizes but nother for us big girls. To me putting on my activewear before heading to the gym is like puttingon my uniform cuz i have work to do! makes me feel good before i have even stepped into the gym. It makes me really sad to think that MB activewear has given plus size girls the flick like every other brand.
Hi Christine – Sorry to hear you are having trouble finding some MB activewear. As 12WBT are a separate organisation to MB Active, I would suggest getting into contact with them as they will be the best people to help you. Head to http://www.michellebridges.com.au/contact-us
Hope you find some great activewear soon! 🙂
All the best,
12WBT Support Crew
I have been trying to buy Michelle’s workout gear for 12 months without success they never seem to have any above an 18 .
I have a large bust but nobody seems to cater for that it’s quite upsetting
Hi Mary – Sorry to hear this. As MB Active is a separate business to 12WBT, I would suggest getting into contact directly with them via their website – http://www.michellebridges.com.au/contact-us
They should be able to answer your question much better. 🙂
All the best,
12WBT Support Crew
Hi I am an older lady, I play a lot of tennis and being plus size I find it very difficult to find nice clothes to wear, I prefer polos but these seem impossible to get, the sizing is all over the place, I like something with sleeves as I don’t want to get sunburnt on my shoulders, any suggestions thank you.
It’s wonderful that you’re playing a lot of tennis – it’s the perfect time of year for it! You may want to check out the following links for plus size tennis clothing – http://www.shopstyle.com.au/browse?fts=plus+size+tennis AND http://www.tennisonly.com.au/Ladies_Tennis_Clothing.html?gclid=COPy-ofUrMgCFU8AvAodLukJwg
We definitely want you feeling fabulous on the court! Mish doesn’t have any tennis specific clothing but her ONE Active range, available from Big W, is great and goes up to size 26. Perhaps pop into your local store for a sticky beak. Good luck!
12WBT Support Crew
Hi, ive brought Michelle’s active + t-shirt & 3/4 pants as ive starting doing training on a weekly basis with a personal trainer. I went to my local big w today to buy another set of clothes to workout in summer in only to find when i get there, there was only 1 shirt in the michelle bridges plus active wear for me to buy. What i want to know is why is there only a limited number of plus size clothes available from the michelle bridges line. Doesnt anyone think that us bigger plus size women workout? By limiting the options in plus size workout clothes makes plus size women not wanting to workout because they cant buy nice comfortable workout clothes & why arent there singlet shirts available in plus sizes too.
Thanks for getting in touch.
As 12WBT and One Active are two separate businesses, unfortunately we don’t have any information regarding One Active stock and what’s available in stores.
One Active is exclusive to Big W and you can purchase a range of clothing and merchandise online. Check out the following link: http://bit.ly/13G9tCI
Alternatively, you can get in touch with the team at Michelle Bridges via the following link: http://michellebridges.com.au/contact/ and they will get back to you asap.
12WBT Support Crew
Hello just wondering when u going to get more leggings For the bigger ladies or were I can order some please
Michelle’s MB Active range is not managed through 12WBT. You can get in touch with the MB Active team here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/MB-Active/525079340941860
[…] there’s one website I never expected to write an article for, it’s Michelle Bridges’. But write I did, and I got given a bunch of plus size exercise clothes for my troubles. As a fatty […]
I whole heartedly agree! There are plenty of other affordable options on the market now – Target, KMart, and Best & Less, but none of them match the quality of the MB range. I love it! I haunt my local store waiting for it to come in lol.
Great article! And I love Michelle Bridges Active Wear.