While the policing of women's bodies and how they dress is an issue no matter who or where you are, never does it seem quite so apparent as it does when workout clothes are involved. Sarah Villafañe, a student of the College of Charleston, experienced that in its full grating glory when she was asked to change out of her crop top at the gym, and then subsequently asked to leave when she would not. Bustle has reached out to the College of Charleston student gym for comment and will update this post upon response. In the meantime, after the incident, Villafañe edited her now viral post to explain the reason that the gym gave her after the incident.
"[EDIT:] The gym has since said that they kicked me out for 'sanitary concerns," Villafañe wrote. "However, they never made those sanitary concerns clear when they asked me to change. They told me I need "more coverage" and nothing more. Not to mention, their website has no written dress code anyway. The dress code at the front of the gym simply says 'Athletic wear must be worn.' I would say that what I'm wearing (whether you believe it's a sports bra or a crop top) is completely normal and considered athletic wear."
Although this is far from the first time athletic wear has come to the forefront of sexist dress codes — just two weeks ago, United went viral for refusing to board teenage girls wearing leggings — Villafañe points out just how frustrating it is by putting the full day she had into context.
"So I just got kicked out of the College of Charleston student gym for wearing this outfit. Like not allowed to work out. Not allowed to because of THIS OUTFIT THAT I BOUGHT SPECIFICALLY TO WORK OUT IN," Villafañe wrote. "I've worn this same outfit all day. Went to 3 classes and spoke personally with each of my professors today and they didn't have a problem. But when I walked into the gym they asked me to put on a different shirt. Obviously I didn't bring an extra shirt to the gym and wasn't about to wear my flannel while working out. So I just said mhm ok and went about my work out pretty pissed off that they even asked me to change."
Villafañe wrote that while she was working out, she was approached by another employee of the gym, and then a supervisor, who both asked her to put another shirt on. When Villafañe pressed them as to why, initially they said it was an issue of "coverage"; only after she left was she told it was a "sanitary" issue, which frankly makes little sense considering that exposed hands have far more germs than an exposed few inches of midriff.
"WTF COFC. I bought this outfit to work out in because it's COMFORTABLE," Villafañe wrote at the end of her post. "What is the issue? Why can't I work out in this outfit? Is my belly button distracting to the general 85% male demographic that your gym serves? I'm forced to leave, WHY? Honestly I'm so floored that I just got kicked out for this. DO BETTER COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON."
This is far from the first time a gym has gone viral for policing women's wear, and surely not the last — but hopefully with voices like Villafañe's speaking out to highlight the wrongness of policing women's bodies, at some point we will be able to exist in a world where women can wear things free of the blame and the shame that society all too often casts on women's clothing choices.