A couple of days ago I ordered some running shorts from Oiselle, as I needed some new running shorts and have all but given up on most brands of running shorts these days. I don’t have particularly high standards for my athletic gear – basically I want it to be comfortable, somewhat attractive and functional. But there is one thing on which I will not budge, which is that I will no longer buy running shorts that do not have pockets.
(And no, that paltry flap of fabric tucked inside the waistband does NOT count as a pocket. I have nothing but a pile of expletives for anyone who tries to convince me otherwise.)
I’m not asking for cargo shorts for runners here. All I want is a pocket that can fit an energy gel or two, my house key, my iPod Nano, mayyyybe a Chapstick. That’s all. I’m not asking for the moon on a diamond-studded platter here, am I?
Well, apparently I am, because it is about as hard to find a pair of women’s running shorts with pockets as it is to find meaning in a Pauly Shore movie. When I do find them, I greedily snatch them up and sprint to the check-out counter before someone can rip them out of my grubby little paws. When I learned that Oiselle makes running shorts that have not one but two pockets – with zippers, even! – I nearly fell to my knees and wept.
Forget all the flashy patterns and laser-cut designs and fluorescent accents – just give me some damn pockets!
Here’s a common conversation I have with other female endurance athletes: someone says a pair of shorts looks cute and comfortable, and then someone else says, “Here’s the best part…they have pockets,” and our eyes all get very big and we add that brand to our must-try list. In fact, just this past weekend a friend told me about some tri shorts she loved because they have pockets, not just along the back waistband but also down the sides of the legs.
We want pockets, yet clothing makers aren’t giving them to us. They do this to us all the time. Like those stupid decorative pockets that are really just bits of fabric sewed to the front of our pants and skirts. LIKE WE WOULDN’T NOTICE. (And by the way? I’m not buying any more clothes with those faux-pockets, either.) But at least with those clothes we can still carry our shit around in purses and backpacks; try wearing a cross-body when you’re running a marathon.
There’s a bunch of gendered nonsense going on with this. My super-smart friend Josey has a great post about this called The Gendered Nature of Being Unencumbered that is probably my favorite take on what I’m going to call “the pocket ceiling” from now on. She makes the point that men’s clothing are designed to be functional, first and foremost, and that women’s clothing usually serve a more decorative purpose:
“At base, it comes down to the fact that men are granted full subjecthood. They are expected to be doers, and need clothes that reflect and aid that. While women are granted (or forced into) objecthood. They are expected to be seen and get clothes that reflect and aid that.”
That same kind of mindset trickles down into sporting apparel for women, where a lot of manufacturers put together clothes that look cool and have cute patterns but apparently forgot to dedicate a lot of thought to the actual way the clothes will function for us. We get the wild patterns and bright colors so we look fly as hell when we run, but not a single fucking pocket to carry the things we actually need when we are running.
These days most of my favorite sports apparel manufacturers are smaller companies that are run by female athletes, which I don’t think is some kind of shocking coincidence. They know first-hand how important it is to have clothes that actually work for you: waistbands that don’t chafe, chamois that don’t rub you raw, POCKETS. Yeah, style is important too, but not to the exclusion of functionality. (And frankly, why can’t we have both? Although lately with a lot of the clothes I’ve seen for sale, I’m questioning whether many clothing designers even know what “style” is anymore.)
The rest of the companies that make running gear? You don’t get my money anymore. Not until you give me some damn pockets in my running shorts.