To me, Body Positivity is a shapeless, size-less concept that can only be advanced by each and every one of us changing the nature of the language we use when talking about our bodies.
Anyone who has followed my writing and advocacy work will know that one of my core aims is to encourage activewear retailers be more proactive in featuring real women or athletes in their clothing and advertising. I am also passionate about changing the nature of the ‘conversation’ retailers have with us customers about activewear, encouraging them, like us women ourselves, to start talking about the functionality of the items relative to our bodies and our sports with less a focus on how it should look on us. As a consumer I want to be respected by brands or retailers as an athlete and not a person aspiring to look like someone else.
I came across fivemore Active/Lifestyle through social media and was immediately intrigued by the simple passion they seemed to have for women being active and just generally enjoying life. It spoke to me of a greater understanding of fitness in the life of the average woman than simply looking ‘fit’. Throughout all of their posts is underlying an sense of encouragement for women not to aspire to be someone else through good health and fitness, but to simply aspire to be authentically themselves.
Needless to say when I came into contact with fivemore’s founder, Catherine Andersen, and she explained fivemore’s social media policy which included ‘strictly no abs selfies’, and a staff policy whereby there is to be a conversational focus on how fitness and health can make a woman feel as opposed to look, I was even more impressed. Catherine has kindly shared with us her passion for a functional focus on activewear and how running was a catalyst in changing the course of her life.
I’m not an elite athlete, just an average woman who has tried to keep up a regular exercise routine throughout my life. I’ve always been a big believer that, especially for women, the sense of confidence with which you go out into the world when you have challenged yourself physically and you have a strong, healthy body is an amazingly empowering force.
After more than 20 years in a high pressure career and with a 50th birthday to celebrate, I was looking for a goal that could be a challenge and leave me with a real sense of achievement. I’d heard about the Marathon du Médoc that runs through the chateaux of Bordeaux from a friend, and when I learned that the 2012 event was to take place on my birthday, well it was a no brainer.
They say running a marathon is something that will change your life. I have to say that in my case, its true. I didn’t want to have put in all that training and be stopped in my goal by ‘equipment failure’, like shorts that chafed or socks that blistered. When trying to source the right gear locally, I was dismayed by the clothing that seemed to be simply ‘pinked and shrinked’ versions of the men’s range. I went on a research journey to find great, women’s specific, technical performance wear that would not only help me run a marathon, go to the gym or do yoga, but that I could wear in the street. What has resulted is a hand-picked collection of activewear and lifestyle gear from ethically sourced manufacturers, many of which are owned and operated by women. Everything is made for real women who really do run, bend, twist in whatever ‘sweaty pursuit’ they choose to take part in.
In addition to the clothing, I was keen to develop a community of active and adventurous women who inspire and encourage each other to take on new challenges, whether big or small. We not only host the Fivemore Flyers Run Club every week led by a run coach and hold a free Community Yoga Class each Sunday in the store, but provide our customer with access to tips and advice from Yoga, fitness and life coaching experts.
As far as my athletic pursuits are concerned, I have now also run marathons in Paris and Rome, and have a list of four or five more on the agenda that I’d like to do. I think I can safely say now that I am a runner.
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