Why do Girls Get the Short End of the Inseam?

Jenny Zenner
4 min readDec 2, 2020
Jenny Zenner running the 400 meter hurdles Photo © Washington State University Photo Services

“Her butt cheeks are showing,” my son noted about a nearby girl as we waded into the spray park kiddie pool. Several years later, the same twin commented, “She must be cold,” as a figure skater twirled on TV.

Well, yes, son. You’re right. I’m raising twin boys and riled up about girls’ athletic attire. Why is it that girls get the short end of the inseam?

The same could be said for what I wore in college. For four years, I competed in basically a sports bra and underwear. My butt cheeks showed. I was cold. I grabbed my sweats as soon as my races ended.

I listened in horror to the testimony during Larry Nassar’s sentencing. I wondered what all enabled the former USA Gymnastics team doctor to go unchecked for so long. Pre-pandemic a friend posted on Facebook her fury over the dress code at her daughter’s gymnastics class. There the boys got to wear baggy shorts and t-shirts. Girls were sent off the mat or to the lost and found bin if wearing anything more than a leotard. They’re preschoolers.

Why is it that girls have to wear crotch exposing uniforms? What function does this serve? How does this improve performance? The elite gymnasts I follow on social media practice in bike shorts and tanks and pull off all the same moves while appearing encumbered. Did Larry Nassar like it that the girls had to take off their tops to pee? In addition to leotard-clad gymnasts, Nassar targeted Michigan State University volleyball players, another sport where women are expected to bare all to play ball.

Over dinner when venting about our disordered eating and bunner-clad collegiate days, another friend remarked, “Have you seen the women’s swim team practice uniforms? They are basically thongs!” Here I thought swimming was a sport where the trend was for more coverage with bodysuits. Seems not.

I recently caught up with Jessica and Rob Cassleman. Rob was my head coach when I ran in college. Jessica handed him the baton when she transitioned from head coaching to a faculty role in the Honors College. There I had the benefit of taking a Sports and Politics course with her. She recommended me for my Rhodes Scholarship application. I’ve known the two since my senior year in high school. They go to church with my great aunt. I saw them grow…

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Jenny Zenner

Hurdle your obstacles with grace. Developed the Stress Response Playbook F-ing A Framework. Internal Family Systems + Polyvagal Coach. https://jennyzenner.com/