When running skirts first hit the scene, I thought they were lame and too girly to be taken seriously. I even made fun of a friend for wearing hers around Central Park. But then I discovered how comfortable, yet chic they are compared to split shorts. I got a basic black one from Brooks and happily wore it on weekends. I could pull it on and instantly be ready to go to the farmer’s market, pick up dry cleaning, or meet friends for brunch. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to actually run in it.
Then I had a conversation with Missy Park, founder and CEO of Title Nine. She’s a huge fan of “skirts with benefits,” because they’re perfect for the active lifestyle she promotes through her catalog and website. “You can get up and move in any direction, whenever you feel like it in a running skirt,” says Park. And that’s where she thinks we gals have an advantage over the guys—“We’ve got more [clothing] options that allow for unencumbered movement,” she says.
But we didn’t always come out on top in the movement department. Park remembers a time when women’s sports teams didn’t get the same funding that the men’s teams did. “Being among the first to play basketball at Yale under Title IX certainly shaped me,” says Park. “I learned leadership skills, ways to deal with stress on the court, and that, as a woman, I have value.” Park brought those sensibilities to the office when she started Title Nine. “Back then, women would wear two jock straps sewn together because sports bras didn’t exist,” she laughs. “The fitness apparel market just wasn’t ready for girls.”
From sports bras to running skirts, times have certainly changed for the better. The Title IX Education Amendment prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving any type of federal financial aid. President Richard Nixon signed it into law on 23 June 1972, and schools across the nation had to offer equal opportunities in sports to boys and girls. Since then hundreds of thousands of women and girls have set foot on fields, courts, and tracks across America. “It wasn’t about being treated like the boys,” says Park, “It was about having the same opportunities.”
I’m now the proud owner of three running skirts. Park sent me one shortly after our meeting, I still have the Brooks skirt I mentioned earlier, and I recently bought this ruffled Lululemon number (pictured). And I actually take them out for loops in Central Park. They no longer seem frilly or silly to me. Instead, these skirts remind me of the opportunities and options that I’m so thankful to have.
It’s good to be a girl! Happy 40th Anniversary, Title IX!
Do you own a running skirt? Do you feel confident when you wear yours?