Reports show that significant numbers of women would like to be more physically active. For example, 13 million women in England have expressed interest in engaging in more physical activity than they currently do. Additionally, men and women report similar levels of interest in participating in sports on a weekly basis (63% and 61%, respectively). Yet men regularly engage in sports 20% more than women do.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the challenges girls and women face in sport. Then we can look at how adidas is addressing these challenges.
Benefits of boosting accessibility
Girls have been found to place greater value on their bodies’ appearance than their functional abilities. They also suffer greater dissatisfaction over both of these factors than boys do.
Yet girls who participate in sports generally see their bodies in a more positive light than those who are less active. Further, greater regularity in working out contributes to higher educational ambitions and achievements. One factor that has interfered with girls’ participation in sports is menstruation. These interruptions in physical activity could decrease as more become aware that exercise can reduce menstrual cycle symptoms, including pain.
It is clear that girls and women have the desire and possibilities of benefiting from greater participation in sports. And adidas is committed to supporting girls and women in being as active as they want, in the ways that work best for them.
adidas is listening
In February of 2021, adidas launched ‘Watch Us Move.’ This campaign celebrates and supports keeping women moving. “We believe that sport should be accessible to – and representative of – all, and this year we are accelerating our efforts to ensure it is an inclusive space for women,” announced Aimee Arana, General Manager, Global Training at adidas.
To address the changing needs of girls and women – as their bodies adapt to fulfill a wide range of identities, roles, activities, and ambitions – adidas asked what they wanted. “We had real, open, and honest conversations with women around the world about the things that are missing and what we can do better,” Aimee said. “This collaborative approach was vital in understanding the needs of underrepresented communities in particular; those that don’t recognize themselves within the traditional spaces of sport and wellness, nor are able to find effective performance wear built to their specific needs.”
What have we found out about how to support girls and women in engaging with sports so far?
The need for inclusive sizing in women’s sportswear
It is estimated that over 70% of women in the US wear a size 14 or larger (UK 16, EU 44), with similar trends in Europe. Though the percentage in China is lower, the number of Chinese women who wear size 14 or larger has recently surpassed that in the US. Despite the great demand, under 20% of clothing is being made in sizes that fit the majority of women in huge swathes of the world. Additionally, apparel in larger sizes is commonly cited as being unappealing in terms of print, color, and style.
Over the past couple of years, adidas has improved its size availability for women’s sportswear, offering the same styles in a wide range of sizes (XS through 4X). The aim is to provide comfortable and fashionable activewear for people of all shapes. Ultimately, the mission is to promote health, wellness, and body-positivity for everyone.
Women's sportswear with sufficient cover
75% of women report avoiding swimming due to concerns over the shapes of their bodies. And 88% express some discomfort in wearing swimming suits in public swimming areas due to shame and a lack of privacy. On a similar note, 56% of surveyed Midwestern American Muslim girls reported that they would definitely participate in sports if the uniforms were more modest.
This year, adidas released a new line of swimwear in a range of styles to accommodate a wide array of desires for modesty.
Your period? No problem!
Of the 12-14-year-olds who were surveyed, 42% said they avoid sports. The reasons they gave were fear of leakage and a lack of information about dealing with their periods.
In direct response to insights gained from teens, adidas recently released leggings to support girls in being more active throughout their cycles. The Techfit Period-Proof tights have carefully fitted, sleekly silhouetted absorption technology. The leggings offer confidence-boosting security when combined with tampons, pads, and cups.
Additionally, adidas has collaborated with EXOS and Dr. Georgie Bruinvels of Orreco to develop educational materials. They have created lesson plans for those interested in expanding knowledge about the menstrual cycle and how to navigate it.
What’s next in women's sportswear?
Also key for women’s sportswear is the combination of compression where women want support and stretch where they want flexibility. While adidas already offers this combination through its Formotion leggings and tops, more can – and will – be done. For further information about maximizing supported movement, keep your eye out for our upcoming campaigns!