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“Is my belly button distracting?”: woman thrown out of gym for wearing a sports bra

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We’re sadly all too used to reading about sexist and outdated dress codes in high schools and offices. However it seems as if women are now being subjected to the same body-shaming behaviour at the gym, too.

Sarah Villafañe from South Carolina was working out at her college gym, wearing a pair of leggings and sports bra (yup, standard gym attire), when she says she was approached by a member of staff and asked to leave.

Writing on her Facebook page, the 19-year-old explains that, when she arrived at the College of Charleston student gym, she was asked to put a top on and advised that she needed “full coverage” in order to workout there.


Read more: School girl stands up to her school’s sexist dress code


"When I walked into the gym they asked me to put on a different shirt,” writes Villafañe. “Obviously I didn't bring an extra shirt to the gym and wasn't about to wear my flannel while working out.”

The teen said she ignored the comments and went about her gym session, but the staff continued to pursue the issue.

Villafañe continues: "Then, when I'm in the back corner of the gym doing abs on the floor, another staff member comes up and asks me to 'put my shirt back on.' I said 'I have a shirt on.' They say 'no that's not a shirt. You have to wear a whole shirt.'”

"I say 'how is this not a shirt?'" And she says 'You need full coverage. If you have a problem, we always have our boss here.'"


Read more: Sexist office dress codes must be addressed, say MPs


Summing up exactly how ridiculous the scenario was, she then concluded: "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.”

Villafañe has since added to the post to say that the gym has since informed her that they took issue with her attire due to “sanitary concerns.” However, as she highlights, their dress code only states that “athletic gear wear must be worn.” Which a sports bra and leggings certainly are. 

Kudos to the student for standing up to the gym’s seemingly inappropriate conduct. Let’s hope they consider a renewal of their policies and the way that staff treat their customers very soon.

Images: iStock.

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