“My mother thought there was something wrong with me because I preferred the boys’ section of the store, and for a long time, so did I.”
I remember when my family and I realized that I was going to fall head over heels in love with the game of basketball. My aunts and uncles and grandparents in Taiwan started mailing over any kind of basketball wear they could find, and I spent so many evenings alone in my room, holding up the jackets and the reversibles, running my palms over their cool, soft material, smiling, imagining myself walking through the hallways at Staples Center and jogging out into the heated lights. The clothes were top-of-the-line, beautiful, wholly athletic and awesomely cool. Except, I never wore them. Not, at least, outside of my bedroom door. Not once.
The navy blue jacket was too big; the meshed shorts fell down to my knees. The cut on the black and red reversible draped on me like I was a gangly boy. All of them showcased a symbol: you know the one, ball palmed in one hand, flying toward that Michael Jordan dunk: it was the ultimate basketball dream. For every boy.
“This, I realized, is a world issue, one steeped in history and gender and bias. It is a human issue.”
That was the story of my growing up: the thrill of receiving a package from Taiwan, and the subsequent forgetting of it in the back of my closet. It was the hype of going to Sports Authority and Dick’s Sporting Goods with my parents in hunt of basketball wear. My mother thought there was something wrong with me because I preferred the boys’ section of the store, and for a long time, so did I. She asked me once if I wanted a black, V-neck shirt with a pink Michael Jordan logo on the chest. I rolled my eyes. I was twelve and I didn’t understand why. But I knew that the t-shirt was repulsive, degrading even. I usually left empty handed, walking out of the store beside my father’s new golf t-shirts and clubs.
I could go on forever. That I couldn’t find an athletic t-shirt with an image of girls playing sports bugged me for the almost twenty years that I’ve lived the life of a girl who, like so many of us, loves sports and wants to dream.
I left the country on and off for three years after I graduated from college. In that time, I coached two exhilarating seasons in Singapore, where the number of boys’ high school teams easily doubled, if not tripled, that of girls’. I started an after-school girls sports club in a Honduran port town where girls were not expected to exercise. When I came back to the United States and fell into a basketball community in Seattle, I was disappointed and dismayed that nothing much had changed since the days I started boycotting American sporting stores around the time I was 15. This, I realized, is a world issue, one steeped in history and gender and bias. It is a human issue.
The girls and parents I coach often ask me where to find sportswear, as if there was some secret they were not privy, some piece of information kept hidden, of where to buy dry-fits and sweats made for girl athletes. All of them (all of us) assumed that in an age where girls are flocking to the courts in record numbers in ponytails and headbands, flying all over the country in chase of tournaments and college dreams, sportswear should be made in the likeness of girls and women just like them, for them.
So, anyway, from a conversation one evening at a friend’s house, we decided to make it happen. Thank you for your support from the east coast to the west, from Italy to Singapore to Taiwan.
Help us spread the word and #DoMore (much, much more) for girl athletes all over the world!
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