By: Tony Davis
UPEI student Kylee Graham goes to the UPEI gym quite often.
However, a recent visit to her regular workout location left her upset. She wrote about it on Facebook yesterday evening and since then over 750 people have liked the post that details her experience with the UPEI gym dress code. More than 500 people have shared the post and more than 100 people have chimed in with their opinions and experiences with university gym dress codes on P.E.I. and across Canada.
So today I went to the gym, just like I do about 4 or 5 times a week. Today I wore a cropped workout shirt to the gym,…
Click on the picture to read Graham’s entire Facebook post.
Yesterday the 22-year-old studying her first year at the Atlantic Veterinary College went to the gym and wore a cropped workout shirt just like she does all the time.
“It’s more comfortable for me than wearing two layers or loose, long clothes that can move around and get in the way when working out.”
This visit wasn’t a typical experience for her at UPEI’s Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre, however. As soon as she walked into the gym she was stopped by an employee and was told her outfit was considered inappropriate and violated their dress code. The staff member then presented Graham with a binder and showed her that women were not allowed to wear sports bras alone, open back shirts or shirts which were low cut on each side with a sports bra underneath.
In a PDF describing the footwear and clothing policy for the UPEI gym it says clothing must cover the rib cage.
A PDF of clothing guidelines from UPEI’s Athletics and Recreation website.
“I told her (the staff member) this isn’t a sports bra as you couldn’t even see my belly button,” she detailed in her social media post. The staff allegedly told her “okay you’re fine for today, but in the future even wearing a see through shirt over top would suffice.”
Graham was stunned by the incident, saying she must have been looking at the staff member like a crazy person. The staff member then told her, “if a man came in here and was wearing a shirt cut so low on the sides you could see his nipples, I would tell him the same thing.”
Graham went on to her work out, upset and angry. As she was leaving, the same staff person approached her and said she and her coworkers discussed what Graham was wearing and decided that it was okay.
Graham was more than frustrated at this point and wanted clarity on what was allowed. “What exactly isn’t allowed then and why?” Graham asked.
The staff member told Graham it was specifically sports bras which were banned because they showed abs and cleavage.
However, Graham was still confused.
“So, why can’t women wear them?”
She was not happy with the staff member’s reply. In her Facebook post, Graham writes that the staff told her “…we are trying to find a happy medium where girls can still workout with men.”
Graham believes UPEI Athletics and Recreation staff are worried women could be distracting to men, and she has some strong opinions on what happened to her besides thinking a gym dress code is ridiculous. In her Facebook post she writes, “Abs are not sexual, a back is not sexual, breasts are not sexual unless the woman wants them to be sexual, stop sexualizing women’s bodies doing mundane things and let them live their lives in peace.”
Several students and members of the external community chimed in on the issue.
Graham concludes her post, “I am so angry that this is something that was implemented just over a year ago. UPEI Athletics & Recreation should be ashamed how they are trying to control and are sexualizing female bodies in such a direct way, how they are making it harder for women to live an active lifestyle and the clear double standards set for women. This is not okay.”
UPEI confirmed to The Cadre that Athletics and Recreation became aware of the Facebook post earlier today. The department has been trying to reach out to Graham directly to apologize.
The Cadre has a meeting with UPEI Athletics and Recreation this Friday to discuss these matters further.