No Dads but Moms in Workout Clothes

This afternoon I volunteered in #2’s class to help with different math games , i.e., games involving numbers. One day each week over the next couple months, parents will come in to oversee one of these math games. Two observations that don’t surprise me at all:

  1. Only I and one other father signed up for any of the days. Mothers: 24 Volunteer Hour Equivalents — Fathers: 6 VHE’s (5 of which are me).
  2. Today, two of the mothers there were in full workout regalia despite clearly not having worked out.

Everybody would benefit if more fathers were involved in the educational aspects of their children’s lives. And everybody would benefit if mothers would stop wearing their workout clothes to school functions. Both patterns of behavior send negative problematic messages to children.


5 thoughts on “No Dads but Moms in Workout Clothes

  1. Does it? I don’t know if it’s a negative message. Nasty sweats, sure, sweaty sweats, ew, but work out gear isn’t that bad, is it? What if they were going to the gym after?
    I think a parent just being there is a big step, as long as they don’t smell funky.

  2. Why do women in workout regalia at school functions send negative messages to children? I’m not saying I support women prancing around in Lululemon all the time, but I’m curious to know your thought process.

    As a side note, I love your blog. I am a woman in a male dominated field and you are a male in a female dominated field (well… not technically… but it seems that sometimes you are immersed in that kind of environment) so it’s fun to see the perspective of my counterpart.

  3. Thanks for the comments and for pressing me on this issue.

    Let me see if I can explain my thoughts a bit. I should begin by clarifying that the “full workout regalia“ did not appear to be guided by efficiency—neither mother looked to be returning from a workout nor, given their comments, was either headed to a workout. I should also say that both women are trim. Finally, in this case “full workout regalia” was not sweats or shorts and athletic shirts. In one case, it looked to be a pair of yoga briefs and a running/sports bra top. In the other case, a running/sports bra top paired with that skort (skirt-short) thing that seems popular now.

    On the one hand, I think “full workout regalia” is problematic in a first-grade class for the same reason I think it would be a problem if I had arrived in Peal Izumi cycling shorts and matching jersey (leaving aside the question of clean, dirty, or sweaty) or a Speedo Drag Brief and no shirt or racing shorts and singlet. Each outfit was designed to serve specific functions. None of them violates any laws or could be described as lewd. But they don’t seem like appropriate choices for a first-grade classroom. Those outfits send the wrong message about the classroom space. At the risk of sounding old fashioned, I think sartorial decisions should take into account the context.

    On the other hand, as the father of a daughter I worry (perhaps needlessly, but worry all the same) about the emphasis these two mothers placed on looking good and what constitutes looking good and for whom they should look good. Casual and offhand comments they made to each other about their appearance—not health, not fitness, but basic looks—and their choice in clothing drew attention to their physical appearance in ways that I fear (again, perhaps wrongly) risk contributing to body image issues. I don’t want my daughter fretting any earlier or any more than necessary over her weight, her figure, her shape, her waist, her butt, her legs, her [fill in your favorite body part here].

    Maybe I’m being paranoid. Maybe women don’t suffer from body image problems as much as we have been led to believe and the statistics about anorexia and bulimia seem to indicate. Maybe I as a father I will have more influence than I think in tempering the insidious effects of mass media and peer pressure. If I am being paranoid, please tell me. I would love not to have to worry about one more thing.

  4. Ok. I get it now.

    1. The outfits are skimpy, and skimpy, (maybe even sexy?) outfits are not appropriate for the classroom.
    2. The outfits are not professional, and while no one expects classroom volunteers to wear suits to school, there’s some level of respect and professionalism that should be maintained.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think you’re being even a little bit paranoid. I don’t have kids but I am a girl and as an adult I recognize the level of effort that my parents made to NOT emphasize/reinforce the importance of looks to me and my sister while we were growing up. I think it has served us well and done very good things for our confidence and general ability to function in the world as humans, rather than as women (errr… that probably sounded weird. What I’m trying to say is that I think we have both done a pretty good job of not being held back by the “limitations” of being women.)

    But in case you’re interested, I can tell you WHY they do it…
    1. It’s comfortable. It’s true, I can’t deny this fact. If I had the option to wear Lululemon to work every day I would.
    2. It’s a way to dress sexy under the guise of “just being comfortable”. The real clothes equivalent of skimpy workout clothes would essentially be hooker clothes. Obviously they can’t get away with dressing like a hooker while going about their daily lives. Flattering workout clothes allow a women to show off her body but making it look like she’s doing it “by accident”.

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