There aren’t too many major races or headlines this week in track and field but one that’s stuck out and hit a nerve with some runners at all levels. A mother on Long Island has gone viral for her campaign to try and ban the cross country briefs that we call commonly refer to as buns.
“I believe that the line should be drawn at the butt cheek, and should go no further up, and they should have a choice of those spandex shorts or regular shorts,” she told CBS New York.
Some high school girls have agreed with the concerned parent while many others have disagreed. A superintendent for the area’s school sports governing body said that the uniforms are legal and had been approved by the state’s Public High Schools Athletic Association. It stated that athletes are permitted to choose between a running brief or a square bottomed brief and that most runners prefer the brief that is used by more than half of the schools in the county. They will continue to monitor the opinions and concerns by athletes and parents regarding the issue.
The mother started an online petition that has garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
Here’s a few thoughts from our resident elite athlete Nicole Bush:
Alright, let’s slow down everyone.
Let’s be careful about turning this buns debate into something it’s not. Yes, sexualizing girls and women is a real thing. Yes, it’s pervasive and everywhere. But this is actually about sport.
Banning a bunch of high school girls from competing in buns, at its roots, should be an opportunity for conversation about the culture we live in and how the female body is sexualized.
Not taking another option away from young women.
But buns are really about sport, competition, performance. For young women it’s about how they see—or want to see—themselves.
Many women at the highest levels of the sport compete in buns. They win world medals in buns. They win Olympic medals in buns. They break world records in buns.
Their favorite runners probably wear buns. Has anyone asked them?
Maybe competing in buns makes them feel fast, fierce and badass. Have they been asked?
Maybe buns allow them to step onto the course or the track and feel prepared, confident and powerful enough to smash some their biggest goals. Were they asked?
Maybe not every high school girl wants to wear buns. >Emoji shrug< Ask!
Yes, have a conversation with young women about how they feel about themselves as females and as athletes. Please, have many of those.
Please, talk with them about how the female body is sexualized, all the time, in all sorts of ways. Ask them what they think about it. Ask them if they’ve ever experienced it firsthand.
Please, educate and inform them.
Give them choices. (Buns, spandex or loose shorts—pants even.)
But don’t take their choices away.
Sports are very important for young women, especially for their personal growth and self-esteem as well as for their understanding of long-term goal-setting and working as a member of a team. It’s important for health and many more reasons.
That’s stuff that’s actually important.
So please, let’s not tell young women—and keep teaching them to tell each other—there’s yet another thing wrong with their bodies by sending the message that wearing buns is somehow wrong. Because having their bodies sexualized is confusing, but so is making them feel like it’s somehow their fault.