At Motovati Athletic, a gym in Ottawa, Canada, employees told Jenna Vecchio that since her breasts were too large for the tank top she was wearing, she would have to change in to a t-shirt. Angered and embarrassed, Vecchio was quoted as saying, “Absolutely not. I will not be returning to your gym covered up in a T-shirt. Other members were wearing a tank top, I should be allowed to wear a tank top too!”
Vecchio took to Facebook to voice her complaints, after which the story gained a great deal of attention. She claims that other women in the gym, who were also wearing tank tops, did not take any offense to her dress; she also pointed out that the gym’s facebook and wesbite are filled with pictures of women in tank tops, so she feels she was targeted specifically due to her larger chest.
In response to Vecchio’s post, which has gained a great deal of attention, the gym has stated that they are a private institution with the right to enforce their etiquette policy, which required members wear “appropriate athletic attire that is modest.” The club has since changed their policy to require that members wear t-shirts.
Vecchio, who has received a great deal of online support, wrote, “No one seems to think it’s ok that a woman’s chest could be so offensive that you’re asking to change your attire.” Those who agree with her have even begun to attack the gym online.
This incident and the gym’s policy reveal some larger issues about the way we discuss bodies, especially those of women.
Telling Vecchio she has to change because of how her boobs look contributes to our society’s general overemphasis on bodies. This hyper-focus on physical attributes enforces the idea that appearance determines worth and can make anybody, even someone as typically attractive as Vecchio, feel self-conscious.
More specifically, this policy reveals how our society often tries to regulate women’s bodies and clothing choices. Not only do these dress codes perpetuate the idea that women’s bodies are objects controlled by others, but it also makes women feel like they are responsible for how others react to their body. In this way, this policy is just another way that the food and health industry objectifies women’s bodies.