Earlier this week, I received an email from asking that I join a handful of local runners in trying on their line of running clothes.
Lululemon’s Running Fit Session is designed to allow real runners try on the clothes that appealed to them, then give feedback on the fabric and design.
Lululemon then uses this information in conjunction with the opinions of runners in stores across the country to make decisions on their next designs.
My first response was positive. I have two weaknesses when it comes to shopping—books and running apparel.
Initially, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to do this. But as the week wore on and the day approached, I began to worry. I began to think about being surrounded by tall, slender runners, runners with perfect bodies who would look stunning in everything they put on and look down on my short, curvy body.
I began to doubt whether I wanted to put myself through that.
That’s the funny thing about body image. It doesn’t have to make sense. Each and every day I find that I beat myself up about how I look.
I have been 5 feet tall since I was in seventh grade. You might think it is something I would have grown used to.
But you would be wrong.
I have had short legs and wide hips for just as long and I haven’t grown to love those either. Instead, every time I have to put on new clothes, I stress a little.
Trying on new running clothes on in front of tall, slender, perfect runners began to seem like a bad idea.
Luckily, my love of running apparel won out over my self doubts. On Wednesday evening I showed up at Lululemon to find five other women already there.
Five other runners looking through the selection of running clothes, drinking their bottles of water and sharing the chocolate covered bananas, trail mix and stories of their upcoming races.
What I didn’t find was one perfect runner’s body. Instead I found that runners come in all shapes and sizes and that almost all of us have the same insecurities.
With that worry out of the way, the fun began. And for the five other runners and me, this was truly one of the most fun nights we could have had without our running shoes on.
Among the five runners, two of us had never shopped at Lululemon. So, Stacy Simmons started with a presentation. She told us how Lululemon focuses on functionality in its clothing and how many of the more functional features, such as thumb holes in their long sleeve shirts and hair ties attached to jacket zippers, were the direct result of customer feedback.
For the next hour we tried on running shorts, tank tops, bras, jackets and the biggest hit of the night, running skirts. We critiqued each new piece of clothing, pointing out spots we thought might chafe, fabrics that moved well, fabrics that didn’t, and necklines that were too high, too low or just right.
But the best part of the night for me was the chance to see just how even though we were all shaped differently, we were all so much alike, as well.
There were two runners who had what most people think of as the perfect runner’s body. Though not tall, these two runners were very lean and fit.
But then there was the triathlete who works harder than just about anybody I know who was bustier and curvier. And finally there was a runner who, like me is not busty, but definitely has her share of curves.
As we tried the clothes on, we found some things that we had expected. We found that my wider hips don’t look great in the same shorts the slender runners look great in.
But we also found that some tops and shorts looked beautiful on both shapes. There was something liberating about this. Something nice about finding out we don’t have to look the same to look good.
On an emotional level, really realizing that we are all beautiful in our own way was the best part of the night. For pure fun, spending a couple of hours trying on clothes with other liked-minded women was a blast.
But, I know what you are wondering. What did I think of the clothes?
I am not a fashionista. With three kids and a work-at-home job, it is not unusual for me to put on my workout clothes first thing in the morning with the expectation that the time will come when I can fit in a workout.
This often means going to the grocery store, the library, the bank and even my children’s school in my workout clothes. So, from a fashion standpoint, I am sold.
I loved the functionality of the clothes I tried on. I loved the thumb holes in the sleeves, the ponytail hole in the hoodie and the three pockets in the cutest running skirt I have ever worn.
But more importantly I loved that most of the clothes I tried on looked less like running clothes and more like everyday clothes.