If you have seen any commercial for an athletic brand you may notice a distinct difference in the way men and women dress. Mens clothing tends to be bagger and designed more for function, while women’s athletic wear is almost always form fitting and cropped to show skin. There is a distinct difference in these two styles, even to someone who does not workout, (or where athletic clothing) and the difference errors on the side of sexualization. Women’s athletic clothing is made to make women look more visually appealing while they are working out, something that is already extremely sexualized for women in everyday life.
As someone who frequented the gym prior to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, I was always made uncomfortable and extremely aware of my body (particularly by men) while wearing traditionally feminine athletic attire in the gym (leggings, yoga pants, form fitting tops, etcetera), and I wasn’t the only woman experiencing this issue. Joining TikTok allowed me to become exposed to thousands of women that experience the same issues with being watched (and occasionally filmed) by men, while wearing typical feminine attire in the gym.
Some may prefer the look and feel of these types of clothing and that is amazing! I am a personal believer in doing what makes you happy and makes you feel like your best self. I am questioning the ethics of those that make the clothing, not those that wear the garments, as for both the casual gym goer and the gym rats alike, the traditional female workout attire is extremely over sexual and not functional for avid athletic use. The design of the clothing (coupled with the unrealistic standards of fitness culture) reinforces the sexual stereotypes that are placed onto women by society: women must always look feminine, even while working out, and they must always adhere to the standards set by the male gaze, despite actively trying to avoid it.