I was 12 years old when I got my first sports bra. My friends and I had decided to go as the Spice Girls for Halloween that year and despite the fact that I wasn't very sporty, I could still do a backhand spring. Because I fit the bill, I was nominated to be Sporty Spice.
And I was excited. Sporty Spice always wore a sports bra, comfortable pants, and adidas shoes. Not only was I going to be comfortable, but my outfit put me in the best position possible to run and get the most candy.
I asked my Mom if she could help me find a Sporty Spice outfit and even though she was a little disappointed that I didn't want to be something she could make, she agreed to take me to Target to find my first sports bra and some cheap track pants. My Mom found me a bright blue sports bra and navy track pants with piping on the sides that matched my sports bra on the sale rack. I envisioned how cool my friends and I were going to look as I ran towards the dressing room.
I excitedly wiggled into the sports bra and pulled on my new Sporty Spice pants and felt my heart drop out of my chest when I saw my reflection in the mirror. I didn't see a strong Sporty Spice staring back at me. I saw an awkward tween with a chubby belly, little love handles, and flat chest.
Going through elementary school, occasionally I'd get teased by my friends whenever we'd get into a trivial fight. They'd call me hippo and when it would happen, I'd try to brush it off. I loved running in elementary school and I was still one of the fastest in our class. Whenever I'd feel self conscious that they called me hippo, I'd remember that I was still faster than they were.
But that changed when I got to middle school. I wasn't as fast as I was in elementary school and for some reason, running was a lot harder than it used to be. I was slow and I could barely run a mile without having to stop to walk. And that day, looking at my reflection in that bright Target dressing room, it was the first time I remember feeling like I did look like a hippo.
I didn't have the heart to tell my Mom that I was too insecure to wear only a sports bra and be Sporty Spice, so we purchased the outfit and once I got home, I quickly asked my friends if I could be a different Spice Girl instead.
I wouldn't find the courage to ditch my shirt along with my insecurities for another 15 years but when I think back to 12 year old Kelly, standing alone in a dressing room, looking at her reflection and feeling ashamed, my heart breaks.
I wish I would have kept running. I used to think that in order to be a runner, you have to be born a runner. And because running stopped being so easy for me, I convinced myself that I wasn't athletic and that sports weren't for me. And I regret that decision wholeheartedly because I would have learned that my body and my weight wasn't something to feel ashamed of. Or how rewarding and empowering it is to be active for the right reasons.
And while I can't go back in time, we can help young women today feel strong and empowered by their bodies for what they can do instead of feeling insecure about what they don't look like.
Today, Oiselle launched the GOT (Girls On Track) Bras charitable donation program. The GOT Bras mission is to help girls stay active and see physical activity as lifelong pursuit. Oiselle is planning to donate at least 2,000 sports bras in 2017, and to share educational content about how to accurately choose and fit a sports bra, and understand our changing bodies. Then in 2018, they plan to increase donations and produce "first-bra" designs just for girls.
Getting your first sports bra can be a really uncomfortable subject to breach! Not all girls have a parent or guardian there to help them understand the changes that are happening with their bodies. Because so many girls feel self conscious about their boobs (myself included), it leads to a decrease in participation.
Getting to be apart of this program gives me hope that we can help teach the next generation of girls that their bodies are strong and capable and that there is not a single part of it that they should be ashamed of.
The reason I love running so much is that it gives women a way to see how strong they really are. And to help give that gift to young girls who will go on to have a healthy and active life knowing that they can do anything they put their minds to? That's just icing on the cake.
So get excited because GOT bras is shaping up to be one hell of a program! It's just taking it's first steps now, so CLICK HERE and take a second to read more about the future of GOT Bras!
OR, if you know an organization who would make a great partner, share your nomination with Oiselle by CLICKING HERE.