This girl was told to stop wearing a sports bra in the gym by staff because it’s 'too distracting for men'
A college student was left outraged after she was told to stop wearing a sports bra in the gym because she would "distract" men.
Kate, a junior at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, claims that she was "dehumanised" and "humiliated" by a male member of staff in early January as she went to do weights at the Waukee YMCA in Iowa.
The 21-year-old claims that the staff member cited the gym's policy that guests do not wear revealing attire, telling her: "I'm going to need you to put your shirt back on right now. We have a shirts-on policy."
However, he reportedly went on to say "We just can't have you shirtless in the gym. It's a huge distraction to others. We don't want guys looking at you and going 'whoaaa,' you know what I mean?"
"Flustered" at suddenly being the centre of attention - with other gym users allegedly taking out their earphones to listen in on the conversation - Kate says she "fought off incoming tears", thanked the staff member, silently put her shirt on and left the establishment feeling "dehumanised".
"On the inside, I knew I disagreed on every level with the gym's policy, but when you're scolded in the middle of a crowded gym and reminded of society's disapproval, you just want to run away and hide," she told VT.
On their website, management of the religiously-affiliated YMCA claim: "Prohibited actions specifically include inappropriate attire, including clothing that is too revealing or that exhibits offensive language or messages. Appropriate attire must be worn at all times."
While the 21-year-old disagrees with the gym's policy, she accepts that she has to follow it in the future. Nonetheless, she objects to the "objectification" of her body and alleges that the gym does not enforce the appropriate attire rule with men.
Kate, who is majoring in Social Justice Studies with a minor in Criminal Justice, said:
"The policy emphasizes the gym's family-oriented environment and that the primary goal is to protect children. I fully respect that; it's their facility, so they can establish whatever rules they please.
"Although I could launch into a long speech about how a visible belly button and shoulders are the farthest thing from scandalous, I know when to pick my battles. My one issue I take with the policy is that it must be enforced with both genders. Men don't go shirtless often, but I have seen a few. From what I have seen, not once has a staffer approached a man about being a distraction."
The Simpson College student also argues that sports bras are "sensationalised" and claims to have had no problem when she returned to the same gym at a later date wearing a crop top.
Kate, who wasn't able to arrange a meeting with gym staff to address the issue because she had to return to school, stated: "What's more, I wore a similar outfit soon after that as an experiment of sorts. I wore the same high-waisted leggings and sports bra, but I wore a skin-tight crop top that skimmed the top of my leggings. It did not expose anything at the top whatsoever.
"At times, the top hiked up a few inches, so it could have been argued that it was a slightly long sports bra. Interestingly, no one approached me that day. This points to the idea that an undergarment as sensible as a sports bra is sensationalised...
"However, imagine if, on that second day when I wore a crop top, a woman who is much larger in the chest area wore it. I'm inclined to believe that, even though that is not something she can control, she would probably be approached about being 'inappropriately dressed'."
VT contacted the Waukee YMCA for comment, but has as yet received no response.