Why I’m Boycotting The Women’s Boston Marathon Jacket

On December 4, I was enraged. A photo of the 2016 Boston Marathon Jacket leaked. And it was pink and teal.

Sure, the color scheme was painfully ‘80s (well, early ‘90s, to be exact), but that’s not what bothered me. What bothered me was that that wasn’t the color scheme for the men’s jacket. You see, where the women’s jacket had pink, the men’s jacket had black.

The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) and Adidas said the designed to be a throwback to the first Adidas Boston jacket from 1991. But that jacket in 1991 was just teal and black. No pink in sight.

I think my parents (who I was visiting at the time) and my fiancé were surprised by how strong my reaction was to the jacket. I was so angry about it that I cried (an unfortunate side effect of my anger). I was too emotional at the time to clearly express why the pink made me so upset, but now I believe that it is imperative that I do so.

To me, what the jacket represents isn’t a throwback to the 1991 Boston Marathon jacket, but rather a throwback to the view of women that led to this infamous scene:

KSwitzerRace

For those of you who are unaware, that is a picture of a BAA official attempting to physically remove Kathrine Switzer from the Boston Marathon course in 1967. That is because at that time women weren’t allowed to run the Boston Marathon. They were viewed as too fragile, not up for the challenge.

Running – and athletics generally – has come a long way since then. Now women make up 43% percent of all marathon runners, according to Running USA’s most recent annual marathon report. And I find it unfortunate that Adidas and the BAA – the organizer of the most prestigious marathon in the world – would so clearly and obviously separate the men from the women with the jacket design.

When Katherine Switzer first ran the Boston Marathon in 1967, the race didn’t have qualifying times like it does today. Just running a marathon was an accomplishment at that time, so there was no need.

Today, it’s a very different story. Men and women alike train endlessly – waking up before dawn, or running late into the evening, sacrificing social commitments and sleep – to run faster, to grow stronger and get the mythical “BQ,” a Boston Qualifying time. Our efforts – man or woman – are admirable. It takes determination and perseverance.

To run Boston, all qualified athletes, despite their sex, had put in the work, dedicate the hours and pound the pavement for months, if not years, to get to the starting line in Hopkinton.  And as such, I believe that we should all be treated like we are: serious, dedicated athletes…not pretty pretty princesses who need a pink jacket to make us feel good.

I am a woman, yes, but when it comes to running the Boston Marathon, I am an athlete first, and I don’t need Adidas and the BAA reminding me that I am a woman. I don’t need the pink jacket to keep me in my place.

This will be my first Boston Marathon (though hopefully not my last), and getting a jacket was important to me. So I bought the men’s jacket, and I paid more money to have it tailored so it fits. It’s a small act of defiance, but when it comes to institutionalized sexism, I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.

I qualified for the Boston Marathon with a time of 3:06:34 seconds. That is 1 minute and 34 seconds slower than the fastest male qualifying time, the time that men 18-34 years old must meet, even though I’m a girl, and as fellow blogger Tracy Green put it, “despite my smaller heart, [smaller] lungs and lower muscle mass.”

My bib number indicates that my qualifying time places me in roughly the fastest 25 percent of the field of 24,032 qualified athletes, even though I’m a girl.

I was one of 4,744 qualifiers to meet my qualifying time by 20 minutes or more, even though I’m a girl.

And so on April 18, I will proudly wear the men’s teal and black jacket, even though I’m a girl.

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13 thoughts on “Why I’m Boycotting The Women’s Boston Marathon Jacket

  1. I see what you mean, but I actually love the color scheme of the women’s jacket! It is odd that they differ in color but I do love the pink and teal and so purchased a coat. Can’t wait to be running my first Boston in one month! Good luck!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t want to get into that, but that’s another thing that bothers me generally about big corporations defaulting to pink.

      We as women have been taught since we were infants that pink is our color. All the girl toys were pink, all the girl clothes were pink. Even as adults we can’t escape it with companies like Victoria’s Secret saying “Love Pink.” Men don’t like pink for that very reason — it’s a girl color.

      There have been a number of scientific studies that suggest that if it weren’t for the early indoctrination of children, women would have no more of a preference for pink than any other color. Therefore, the very fact that so many women today might say, “buy I like the pink!” is actually the side effect of systemic sexism dating back to our earliest years.

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      1. I see what you mean here- and agree– but at the same time I do think the two colors go well together physically. Pink is far from my favorite color (hello blue and yellow- honestly, so I do wish that those were the colors this year as in past years!). I do see your point and was surprised by BAA (or whomever manufactured the jackets), but I chose to buy the female one because after trying it on, I personally thought it looked great.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Adidas does really well with the women’s jacket, generally. It tends to look good on women of all shapes and sizes, so I definitely give them that! And I know I’m never going to change anyone’s mind, but I just think it’s an important thing for people to think about, especially at a time when women have kind of stagnated in their fight for equal rights (don’t get me started on gender pay gaps and the lack of paid maternity leave in this country), and there remains a strong undercurrent of subtle sexism throughout our society.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My friend got the jacket already, the pink one. It doesn’t look the best in pictures but it looks really cute on her. She also really likes the color pink (she wears a pink tank top and pink shoes often to track). I am not really a pink fan but I guess a lot of women are and that’s why it’s pink. Honestly I think the blue/yellow color scheme is the best because it matches the marathon’s themed colors.

    I completely agree with you and support you on getting the jacket you want. After all, you earned the qualifying time and the right to wear the jacket. At some races with gender-cut shirts, some women prefer to get the guy’s shirt, they just like that fit better. It’s all up to the person.

    Good luck in Boston and hope your training week has gone well! It is almost taper time for you guys but I’m sure you are feeling the hard work in the last few weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I am not really a pink fan but I guess a lot of women are and that’s why it’s pink.”

      That gets into the root of the problem. How many of those women would really like the color pink if they weren’t brainwashed to do so since they were infants?

      I know most women will get the pink jacket and love it, but I think it’s better for all women to think and consider why they like the things we do.

      Anyway, thanks! I’m really looking forward to the taper. I can’t wait to get to the other side of next Saturday…

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  3. YAS! Love it. I do love pink. But I also love gray. Purple. Green. And, in this case, blue and yellow. I actually don’t have a jacket from either year I ran it — I thought it was ugly. Then again, I could get on my soapbox about my feelings about the jacket in general and the unwritten policy to wear it at any race you’re not running so that everyone knows you may be on the sidelines today BUT … But I won’t.

    Instead, I’m here to commend you for taking an extra step to have a jacket that represents your accomplishment at a distance long considered off-limits for women — a race that didn’t even exist in the Olympics until the year I was born — at least, we’re allowed to race, and if corporate patriarchs want to come out of their offices and race someone who runs like a girl — I’m in.

    Thanks for the shoutout, too. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, well, I do live in the first world. Institutionalized sexism, however, is a global problem that I will not ignore.

      PS- I also wear my Boston jacket with pride. Mine is just a different color.

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      1. I get that. I just don’t think the colors were something Adidas or the Boston Marathon intentionally used to suppress women.

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