Mims' Musings

Archive for October 2011

I’ve never been good at playing sports, but I’ve always supported them. One of my first memories is watching rugby with my Dad. I was about 3, dressed as a princess with my hair in curlers and completely fascinated by the rugby. I’ve continued to be a strange combination of a sports loving girly girl, although never quite overcame my fear of playing them.

As those of you who read my blog regularly will know, I recently spent nearly a month in South Africa, where the whole country was excited by the start of the World Cup in New Zealand. I was proud of the replica shirt I bought over there, and impressed with how their shops stock women’s shirts nearly everywhere that men’s shirts are stocked. I always knew that women’s shirts are hard to find in London, but what I found when we returned home was shocking.

One thing I always look forward to when England are knocked out of whichever competition, is the way prices for replica shirts drop afterwards. In anticipation of this, I started looking around at possible retailers online. However, I found myself frustratingly unable to find anything resembling a Women’s Replica Rugby Shirt. When I couldn’t find anything on the official RFU website I started to worry. I sent Customer Services an email,  here was the reply I received:

“Thank you for your email.

After looking into your query, I can tell you that all the items we stock can be found on our online store.

Unfortunately if the items you require can not be found online we do not stock this item and do not have any dates available for when we will be getting it in, in the near future.

As our website is being updated regularly all we can advise is that you keep checking the website for any new products which may feature on there.”

After another hour or so of frantic Googling, I accepted the truth. There is no such thing as a Women’s England Rugby Replica shirt. I know that I could fit comfortably into a small men’s shirt, but why should I have to? Why should I need to pay the same price as other countries, when women there get a well-tailored, curve hugging shirt with a flattering neckline? Furthermore, why would sportswear manufacturers choose to alienate all women? That’s a large part of the market to ignore.

The problem is, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt like I have no place being a sports fan as a woman. Without even scraping the surface of how women who like or play sports are labelled as Lesbians. Last year, during the football World Cup in South Africa, I was trying to find a Women’s football shirt in big sports shops in London. It was a nightmare. Many shops told me that they didn’t stock the shirts in women’s sizes, and those that did only had one or two in each size and so sold out within hours. More recently I found myself wondering why one of the big sports shops had put out an advert where Men’s and Kids football shirts were reduced, but no mention of  Women’s.

During this mission I also found myself overwhelmed by the quantity of merchandise aimed at women, with slogans such as ‘Mrs Beckham’, or ‘Future WAG’ on them. It seems that if you’re a woman, your place in supporting sports is if you fancy the players, as some sort of wannabe WAG. As if that wasn’t enough, you can now dress your baby girl in t-shirt expressing her wish to be nothing more than a footballer’s girlfriend, before she can even talk.

The view that only men enjoy sports is just not true, and yet that seems to be the message that retailers are trying to put across. But is that only the case because women feel like they aren’t supposed to like sports? This is something I’ll continue to wonder about for a while, especially as other teams such as Scotland and Wales seem perfectly able to release a women’s replica rugby shirt.

If anyone has any answers about this I’d like to hear from you, please comment below!


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