Everyone knows nurses in the UK don't actually wear dresses anymore. Now, most wear scrubs, or trousers and a tunic. In fact, being a nurse shouldn't be seen as a gendered profession simply for women anymore and the modern uniform reflects that. Yet, Guinness World Record's sexist category for nurses running in the London Marathon still required them to wear a dress.
This all went down after Jessica Anderson, a senior sister at the Royal London Hospital, wore scrubs in the London Marathon as a true reflection of what a nurse wears. As Stylist reports, she wasn't allowed to have her new record replace her previous one, all because she didn't meet the aesthetic criteria set out by Guinness World Record (GWR). Anderson completed the race in 3:08:22, beating her previous time of 3:08:44.
GWR have had a long standing relationship with the London Marathon, with a partnership lasting 12 years, according to Runners World. They originally set out to make world record titles to match the Marathon's already popular trend of running in fancy dress.
Jessica Anderson was running the race for Barts Charity, in the hopes of breaking the record for the fastest female nurse. But, according to the BBC, an official told her: “For the purposes of this record, the nurse’s uniform must include: a blue or white nurse dress, a white pinafore apron, a traditional white nurse’s cap. Tights are optional.”
At least the tights are optional, eh? Not only is running a marathon already bloody hard work, but running 43 kilometres in a dress and potentially tights, feels way less practical than loose fitting trousers. Never mind practicality, as the Independent reports, nurses in the UK haven't worn caps since the '90s, and trousers became more popular after that, with some younger nurses never having to wear them at all in their career.
So, of course, when news broke out about Jessica Anderson, nurses around the UK clapped back at GWR's sexist criteria. The hashtag #whatnurseswear was created to prove what their uniform really looks like, and just how ridiculously misogynist their ruling was.
GWR later changed their decision, with a statement published on their website reading: “Our guidelines for the fastest marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform were outdated, incorrect and reflected a stereotype we do not in any way wish to perpetuate.” They went on: "we continue to strive to ensure we create, monitor and catalogue record-breaking feats which truly reflect the world we live in today."
This has now lead GWR to look into at least 200 of their other Marathon titles, saying: "we do not allow any costumes which bring a profession or any other subject into disrepute. Any we discover will be either amended to reflect modern standards, or deactivated."
It's wonderful to hear that GWR have now realised that the only criteria for winning the title of fastest nurse in the London Marathon is, uh, just just being a nurse. This does sadly prove that there are still some outdated, sexist views on nursing and its association with "women's work". At least this is just further proof of the power of the internet, and what happens when people galvanise together to get the job done. Hopefully, the most ridiculous thing at the next London Marathon will be the costumes and not sexist opinions.