Friday, July 18, 2008

0 Adventures in Skorting


I just took my running skort for its very first test drive. And by test-drive, I don't mean that it was a drive-by skorting, or anything. ;-) (Mrs. Doubtfire reference, anyone?! ;-) )

And no, in case you were wondering, there weren't any dramatic scenes involving skorts being angrily chucked at some unsuspecting passerby's head, flying full-speed out the window of a moving car, like a launching "What Not To Wear" projectile! Hahahaha! (Well, they really do chuck bad fashion statements into the garbage can with a vengeance on that show!)

OK, so wearing the skort wasn't that maddening of an experience! ;-) No, not at all! In fact, it was surprisingly pleasant. And instead of chucking it out a fast-moving vehicle (!), I wisely decided that it'd be far more useful to wear on the running path this morning. LOL.

As someone who was incredibly skeptical at first -- I was expecting the bike tights underneath to "ride up" on me & other such mishaps (!), I have to say that my first experience was much better than I thought it was going to be.

And to address Tootie's concerns, I have to say that, while I've only run 3.56 miles in the thing thus far, that I still wasn't pulling it down every 5 seconds. ;-)

So, here are my comparative observations thus far:

Wearing the running skort is certainly a whole lot better than wearing bike tights by themselves, that's for sure! I'm mainly talking about those really short bike tights, which I detest wearing. Now those I'm forever pulling down while running, which is why I haven't worn them in ages.

(The longer bike tights that hit slightly above the knee, & the capri length ones provide way more coverage -- Now those I actually like!)

And wearing the running skort is also definitely better than wearing athletic shorts. Of course, women who are built like "pick-up sticks" (i.e., straight figure, no waist, no rear, with long skinny legs), or like swimmers or gymnasts (i.e., muscle-y, athletic build, with broad shoulders & a tiny waist & even tinier rear end!), are likely to disagree with me, but that's OK, because they probably look absolutely fine in shorts! ;-)

However, those of you ladies with a figure similar to mine probably already understand why I detest running shorts so much. ;-) (I'm sure many of you ladies are probably nodding your head right now, knowing what's coming next!) You see, I've got a hourglass shape, but also have got muscles. In other words, I don't exactly look like I'll be blowing over like a wilting lettuce leaf anytime soon. ;-) Now you might say, "Well, if you're trim & in shape, then why don't you like wearing shorts? Well, while my leg muscles might not be the issue, it's my rear end that wouldn't be thanking me any! LOL.

In fact, I'd venture to say that most athletic shorts do horrible things to a woman's rear end. (Now, I'm not talking about you "stick-people." You probably can wear a big "X-marks-the-spot" on your rear end & still look good! ;-) )

But if you've got an hourglass shape, & either have a muscle-y rear-end or have the slightest bit of flab anywhere in the lower half of your body, athletic shorts can be merciless! They are way too short & usually puff out like a balloon in the front -- creating the appearance of an "extra stomach" that really isn't there ("Moo!" -- one stomach is enough for me, thank you very much!), & on the back end, they have the effect of making one's rear-end look like it's been compressed into sausage-casing, which is not a good thing, in case you were wondering. ;-)

OK, I know this post wasn't supposed to be about shorts, but I just couldn't contain myself. The shorts comments just had to be said. ;-0

And thus having gotten that out of my system, let's now return to our discussion on running skorts, shall we?!

Since I was just talking about fit & flattery, I'd also like to point out that running skirts are a lot more flattering to the bod than shorts or bike tights. I'd have to agree with Blaine's female runner friends on that one!

Also, there's one small detail which has greatly influenced my opinion of the running skirt/skort: My current body image.

I have to admit that I probably wouldn't have had the guts to attempt a look like this around the same time last year. And it's not just from the perspective of body image alone: My legs weren't as trim as they are now, & frankly, it just wouldn't have been as comfortable! I will not elaborate on the reasons why, but if you'll remember my earlier references about chafing..... Ahem. And that's all I'll say on the subject. ;-)

While I tested out the skort earlier in the morning, with the express purpose of avoiding creepy dudes that like to stare at women in skirts (!), I still got one or two cringe-worthy stares. One stare was from an older dude who waited until he thought I couldn't see him & then turned around & just stared! I felt like I should've been suited up with one of those protective X-ray pads that you wear in the dentist's office when they take an X-ray of your teeth or something. LOL. But if he thinks I didn't notice him staring from the corner of my eye, he was dead wrong: I clearly saw him turn around & stare. Ick, he was probably twice my age, & old enough to know better. Anyhow, the other dude was a gardener in his late twenties or early thirties, & made absolutely NO bones about concealing the fact that he was looking: He was staring me up & down like I was the sports section of a newspaper. ;-) I was not really that comfortable with either of these looks, but also realized that, had I been running in an area specifically designated for sports (like a few of the other lake & parks where I like to run), I might've felt a lot more comfortable being "in my element." And I very likely would not have been the only one there running in a running skirt/skort.

The other thing is that I could also get up even earlier to run, which would probably put me in the company of many more runners & thus, make me feel a lot more comfortable! ;-)

At any rate, one or two creepy stares are not going to stop me from wearing my skort; most people behaved themselves at the lake, & overall, it wasn't a huge deal.

On this subject, I often find that a lot of men are actually very sheepish about looking at women; of course how you decide to respond to it depends upon the particular guy & the situation. Of course, I'm talking about the kind of guy who's not just staring at a lady in order to admire her from afar; I'm talking about the other kind of male staring. Ladies & gents, you know what I'm talking about here. In the latter situations I described, I find that sometimes, if you stare right back at them, they will often back down & stop staring out of sheer embarrassment. (Some of them will be so shocked that you've got to moxy to stare right back at them, that it'll end the interaction almost immediately.) Either that, or you can ignore their stares altogether. Again, how the situation should be handled depends on the guy in question & the interaction itself (i.e., how passive or aggressive he is in his staring, verbalizations, or other manifestations). In any event, it's not about getting angry or aggressive, or having hostile confrontations with a complete stranger. (Of course, that could potentially be quite dangerous, & I'd never recommend that course of action.) However sometimes, it is about having the guts to stand your ground & assert yourself if the situation merits it. And asserting yourself can be simple as not letting these men intimidate you with their stares. ;-) After all, that's what most of these dudes want; they want to make you squirm & feel uncomfortable as they dissect your body with their eyes. It's less about physical attraction & more about power -- they obviously want to lord power over someone else, & unfortunately, in more cases than not, that means wanting to specifically lord their power over women. I'm guessing that these men were probably damaged by an unhealthy interaction with women at some point in their life, but that doesn't have to become your problem!

Like a Hitchcock movie, it's all about the "control of the gaze." And you can take that control back by not letting anyone intimidate you with their eyes.

[Explanation of the above reference: If you've ever watched a Hitchcock film, note how the women of his films typically start out wearing glasses, with their hair in a bun. The ones that aren't killed off typically end up with a "Hitchcockian makeover" -- all of a sudden, they "lose the glasses" ("Can they still see anything?! One wonders!.... Vertigo, indeed! Contacts or lasiks anyone?!" ;-) ) & that tight bun in their hair is gone. The loss of the glasses & the "letting down of one's hair" is, of course, highly symbolic. This "softening" of their look is not accidental: It almost always coincides with them no longer being in the driver's seat of their own destinies. It's all about control, baby! (Self-control, control over others, etc., etc.) Think "Marnie," "Rear Window," "Vertigo," "Psycho," "The Birds," "Shadow of A Doubt," "The Thirty Nine Steps," etc. Need I go on?! It's Hitchcock's ultimate fantasy: Women submitting to his will. ;-) Note the camera angles when women are on screen as opposed to the men. Hmmmm, what am I getting at here?! ;-)]

Personally, I don't like getting into situations with men that involve powerplay; it's usually more about them & their emotional needs, than it is about you. If you keep that in mind, then it really puts things in perspective. So sometimes, it's just smarter to ignore such attempts to demean you & walk away. Not engaging them at all in the first place is probably a whole lot safer. After all, you never know who these people are.

Anyhow, this wasn't meant to be a dissertation on sexual politics, but alas, for some reason, I keep getting distracted.

Well, on some levels, the running skort is a statement which does involve sexual politics, & I guess that is unavoidable on some levels. However, on a cheerier note, a lot of women report that, while wearing their running skirts, they feel both very powerful and feminine at the same time. And having run just one day in mine, I can see why they feel like that. The running skort is very liberating, both literally & figuratively speaking. ;-)

Also, just because there are men out there who have "Back-to-the-Stone-Age" sensibilities about women wearing running skirts or other flattering-but-tastefully-body-conscious apparel doesn't mean that we women should feel boxed in by these attitudes. I think that there are also plenty of guys who don't act like complete Neanderthals, & we women need to cheer more for men like this! I for one am very lucky to be with a forward-thinking guy who isn't threatened by female strength & intelligence! (And just so you know, that doesn't come at the expense of his own strength & intelligence!) So yay, Erik! 8-)

On this note, I'd just like to say that in our crazy, modern world, it's apparent that we need to bring healing to the men & women who feel wronged by each other & bridge the "vast divide" between the sexes. And that will only happen when both sides quit sparring with one another in the so-called "Battle of the Sexes," & instead see the beauty & validity of each other's existence. When we stop making overgeneralizations about "Mars & Venus," & instead see each person individually for who they are. OK, that it for today's treatise on "Sexual Politics & The Emergence of the Running Skirt in Popular Culture." I will now stop being serious, & go back to being the unintentional comedienne that you all know & love. ;-) ("Daaaaahlink, what would people think if I suddenly started to take myself & others too seriously?! If I start behaving myself now, it'd absolutely ruin my reputation!" ;-) )

OK, whoa, another tangent. I'm on a roll today. ;-)

So what else can I tell you about my running skirt experience? Aside from the experience turning into a deep exploration into the psyche of men & women ;-), sexual politics, & a foray into Fashion 101, I will have to give a surprising "thumbs up" to the experience as a whole.

Even though the skort was fairly short, I didn't find the coverage to be immodest. Now that doesn't mean I'll be wearing it into a Middle Eastern restaurant any time soon, but under the right circumstances & in the right environment, I would certainly feel comfortable wearing it again.

So, while it took me a while to accept the concept, I can now say that I've now warmed to the idea & have wholeheartedly enjoyed the experience of wearing my running skort. So it looks like I'll be buying a few more. ;-)

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