I went to buy some new exercise clothes last night. Tomorrow, I will be returning five out of the eight items I bought. Four of these items are sports tank tops, and they will be going back because I can't breathe in them.
Over the years I have begrudgingly complied with the sexualization of female bodies, which means that somehow the hint of my nipples showing through fabric is offensive, while a man's nipples are not. I've never worn a bra, and therefore the societal requirement to hide my anatomy results in having to wear layers even in summer, and most annoying of all, to exercise.
Enter sports tops.
They usually have some sort of a double fabric or padding cups in the front, and for women better endowed than myself, some sort of an integrated bra. While I don't need the support, I wear the padded tops for "modesty."
The only difficulty with them is that someone in the industry decided that a sports bra has to be constructed of high-tensile-strength elastic material that will compress my chest to the point of suffocation. Last night I was in a hurry and also it was cold, so I was wearing a coat and a jacket, and other warm things, and did not want to unpack in the store just to try on some tops. So I grabbed two of each kind and went home. When I tried them on this morning, I had problems getting into one, and out of other, which proved to be worse.
Now the thing with the integrated bra is that it is shorter than the tank top and often only attaches to the top at the straps, closing with an extra-strong elastic band at the bottom. Once I had the top on and realized that I was having difficulty breathing in it, I tried to take it off. The longer part came off fine until the point where it attached to the elastic undercarriage, which was still gripping me around the ribcage. My arms were trapped in the top, held over my head, and no way to reach the little elastic contraption to pull it off my body.
Close to panic, I briefly considered waking up J to ask him to cut me free of the evil garment, then continued the struggle. Instead of stumbling around blindfolded by the top over my head, I knelt on the floor and redoubled my efforts to wriggle my way out of the predicament. After a few panting fits and starts, I managed to escape the ties of the sports top, and sat on the floor trying to catch my breath.
Once my pulse was back to normal, I neatly folded the armored tops and put them in a bag with their receipt to take back to the store tomorrow.
Photo credit: dagophir.com