There’s lots of ways I’d describe the paddle boarding community: inclusive, welcoming and wonderful. Like many others, I discovered the world of SUP this year as a perfect, socially distanced escape and way to spend time outdoors.
As a size 18 woman, only slightly larger than the average, which is a UK16, I thought it would be pretty simple, believing – like general fitness brands – sizing options would be inclusive in leading labels. What I discovered was the opposite – rather than being inclusive and reflecting the community, kit was exclusive.
Most of the leading paddling brands only went to a women’s UK16 or an XL, excluding all women above the UK average and making the only option men’s kit. This often doesn’t fit right, since it doesn’t account for women’s different body shapes or sizes – after all, it wasn’t designed for us.
This battle is not new to women who have been paddling for a while. They had to campaign just to get women’s kit in the first place, this is insane to me, it’s a patriarchal idea – women weren’t worthy of kit.
Now we have kit with sizing that works for very few women and I’ve found myself on a mission to change that.
What I want to achieve is simple…
No women will ever have to give up on a sport they love because they can’t get the kit they need, it’s not too much to ask for.
Immediately it caught the attention of women and brands alike and while many larger brands have given me lots of excuses but there are some phenomenal brands who want to be involved in changing the norm!
McConks were on board from Day 1, they launched a survey gathering data about women’s sizes. You can access it here if you have a couple of minutes and a tape measure.
Then many women fed back that it was too detailed and that it made them feel self conscious about themselves. So I came up with a simpler one, so everyone, no matter how they were feeling can fill it in anonymously.
The campaign continues to grow, with a team of passionate women helping me take the reigns. These champions, from various disciplines, will help drive the campaign forward starting with a Facebook community – #PaddleKitHerWay Community. We hope this will become a community of like minded women and we can work together to get better kit options for us all, as well as increasing the accessibility of the sport for plus size women.
Join us on Facebook here.
There’s so much to come, there’s a long way to go but I’m sure together we can get the change we deserve.
I’ll be back with regular kit related updates!