In defence of Active Wear: It's a woman's right to Lycra.

“We hereby vindicate a woman’s right to clothe herself in active wear…”

It seems that everywhere we turn, women are being berated for their latest transgression: that is, wearing active wear, whilst not necessarily doing active things.

Last weekend, The Daily Telegraph asked the age-old question: “Active wear: Is this fashion fit for the streets?” which prompts us to ask ‘Women: When will we be fit for the streets regardless of what we’re wearing?’

As expected, the debate was well thought out and compelling. One individual, who is a female person and thus has the authority to tell other female people what they ought to be doing, is firmly against this abhorrent practice, arguing that “it’s just lazy”, and that we should “put on some normal clothes. Jeans? A top that requires ironing?”

We reserve the right to dress ourselves in active wear, whilst not necessarily doing active things. Screenshot via Facebook.

So, after enduring foot binding, corsets, heavy wigs, those dresses with the hoola hoop (ahem ‘crinoline’), high heels and unnaturally tight jeans, women are still not entitled to comfort.

We are two people who shall not stand for this injustice any longer. We reserve the right to dress ourselves in active wear, whilst not necessarily doing active things, and go about our day in runners, tights and a t-shirt, like so many women before us have been denied the opportunity to do.

If Queen Elizabeth the First had access to active wear she could have saved serious time getting ready in the morning. Her productivity would have vastly improved with being able to walk much faster and being able to WALK THROUGH DOORWAYS without her clothing getting stuck.

“How can I seriously be expected to run an Empire wearing this…crap”. (Image via Google - reusable)
“How can I seriously be expected to run an Empire wearing this… crap”. (Image via Google – reusable)


Mmm… that’s much better.

[Wow brb while we pursue careers as photo editors… ]

On Facebook, almost 300,000 people like the page “Leggings are NOT pants”, LANP in short. While we really don’t feel as though the acronym was necessary (… you’re not PETA), what is particularly troubling are the comments on the page, left by concerned members of the public.

One distressed individual has written, “Leggings as pants are immodest”, before strengthening her already impeccable argument with the point, “Sorry to say peeps but leggings as pants is a slutty look”.


We just… do not believe you are sorry. You seem quite unapologetic about your opinion given that you a) liked a Facebook page called ‘Leggings are NOT pants’ and b) reinforced your opinion with a comment.

Apologies aside, it’s important to consider the implications of this judgment.

It’s one thing to be aware that you probably shouldn’t wear ugg boots to a wedding (although… #YOLO), and that it’s not really appropriate to wear your swimmers to a funeral (#SheWouldHaveWantedItThisWay), but it’s another thing entirely to slut-shame a person because of their everyday clothing choices.

Perhaps most significantly, hating active wear or hating what women wear in general reinforces some damaging ideas about gender. It would be refreshing if we stopped focusing on what women are wearing and instead focused on what they’re thinking.

Because we can assure you, the latter is far more interesting.

We wonder if Marie Curie was ever judged for being in her active wear? Image via Getty.
We wonder if Marie Curie was ever judged for being in her active wear. Image via Getty.

Marie Curie: “I have some very interesting ideas regarding radioactivity.”
The Daily Telegraph: “Ahh yes. But what is your stance on active wear? Yay or nay?
Marie Curie: “I… I literally have a Nobel Prize.”
The Daily Telegraph: “… So that’s a… yay? ”

We don’t know about you, but the women in our lives seem more than capable of deciding what they want to wear, and don’t need the help of The Daily Telegraph, Facebook groups, or the panel of Studio 10 to decide. Dressing in active wear regularly, and therefore not having to think much about their clothing choices, probably gives them more time to, you know, contribute to society, think about important issues, and run the world.

Which brings us to our next question: Why are we being INTERROGATED about what we did today? What’s it to YOU if we went to the gym? (… We definitely didn’t).

Why do only active people get to look active? That doesn’t seem… fair. We too own runners, or as Dad calls them ‘sandshoes’, and when are we going to wear them if not to the shop to buy chocolate? When? Huh? WHEN?

In response to the (flawed) claim that one may only wear active wear when they are actually being active, we have proposed a rather complex formula outlining the many other instances where one may wear active clothing:


– If we haven’t washed our hair = active wear
– If we can’t find clean clothes = active wear
– If we don’t want to IRON SHIT (good point) = active wear
– If we don’t want to do the whole makeup thang = active wear
– If it’s cold and we don’t want to feel itchy = active wear
– If we don’t want to run into someone and have them think ‘Jesus – why hasn’t she washed her hair… or body for that matter… in what appears to be days? Why hasn’t she tended to her… face?’ = active wear

Indeed, the prospect of doing ‘adult’ and ‘woman’ simultaneously is exhausting, and dressing in active wear allows us to abandon some of the (very depressing) superficial competitiveness that comes with being a female.

The way ‘femininity’ works, is that it always makes you feel like you’re not doing it well enough, and thus that there are always other women doing it better.

One of the most salient reminders that you’re doing femininity badly are Formals. Everyone’s dressed up, and other girls have had their hair and makeup professionally done, while your Mum took you to some weird place where they were clearly still training and did “all neutral colours”, meaning you essentially looked like you had no facial features. So you go (sans face) with those horrible formal curls that you specifically asked NOT to have, and some cheap dress, because there’s two of you (ok let’s change the tense here because this is clearly about us) – and Mum thought this was all a waste of money from the beginning.


You know that there is GOING to be a six-foot goddess wearing a $1000 dress (whom your date would clearly rather be with), who makes you wonder all night how you managed to spend this much time looking this bad.

Ah. So this is ‘womaning’.

This completely arbitrary and very, very problematic aspect of femininity will never be our strength. So, as two highly competitive women, who are under no pretense that we have any chance of winning the ‘beauty race’, we would rather forfeit altogether and maintain our dignity.

We hereby vindicate a woman’s right to clothe herself in active wear regardless of the activity level she plans (we all plan to exercise) to partake in. We defend a woman’s right to go shopping in her active wear, drink coke in her active wear, eat a donut in her active wear, and look after her mini human in her active wear.

For us, active wear is a metaphor for freedom. In active wear we can physically move around the world in an unrestricted manner, in a way Queen Elizabeth the First could not.

Germaine Greer once asked of women, “If she never takes off her high-heeled shoes, how will she ever know how far she could walk or how fast she could run?”

To that we say: We’re actually appallingly slow. Like… shockingly.

Oh… wait. Oh sorry it’s a metaphor. Yes we can run fast, very fast indeed.

Now perhaps we can finally catch up to those men who have been wearing jeans and joggers for decades.

Clare and Jessie Stephens are twins from Sydney, whose Weet Bix fight (circa 1994 – unevenly distributed breakfast) resulted in the throwing of tables and chairs. It was then they realised they shared a common passion for justice.