Say Something or Just Keep Smiling?

Saturday Night Fever
Save the skin-tight white pants for Travolta, y’all. (Photo via Wikipedia)

I like half marathons, where there is a lot of diversity amongst the runners. It allows me to people watch.  Or maybe it’s more accurate to say it allows me to shop.  You know, just like at the mall…except I’m running. Generally I am able to do this without passing judgments. I am looking at the cool running skirts, shoes, hats, tops, and so on and wonder where I can get those items. If I am close enough to the wearer I ask where she got it, if it is comfortable, blah blah blah.

While running with the pace group we got into a conversation about bras, wondering aloud why no one has made them in brightly colored prints. As the conversation continued, I saw her and I almost stopped completely, as did almost everyone who was running beside me. For a moment no one spoke.  For a moment I forgot that I was running a race. I did not really know what to say and wondered if I should say anything.

What we saw was a woman running in very sheer white tights. When I say sheer white, think of a white t-shirt that got wet. Or a pair of white pantyhose without the skirt. Wow! Now, I only saw the woman from behind so I have no idea what her front looked like, but I saw all of her backside as she ran in front of me. I could actually see her butt.

Our silence begged the question:  should we say something?I kept thinking she could not be comfortable because those tights offered no support and they were super sheer. I wondered if she would chafe when she started to sweat. The race temperature was 65 degrees and sweating was inevitable. I also wondered if the friction from her legs would cause the tights to run like pantyhose, exposing even more of her.  We debated on whether or not to tell the woman that we could ‘see’ her or just high five her and keep on running.

We all realized that a conversation about wicking fabrics was not appropriate at that time.  Since she was running in the race, there was nothing she could do about changing clothes even if she wanted to. Perhaps she knew exactly what she was doing and maybe she ran in those tights all of the time–we had no way of knowing.  So we passed her without making eye contact and never once looking at the front of her.

After the race I wondered if we did the right thing, yet I could not think of a way we could have broached the conversation without appearing judgmental, condescending, or something else. After all, we were there to run a race. She was running her race. She did not ask for our input. No one made us the running fashion police, but I tell you, Joan Rivers would have had a good time with her.

Later when I was telling this to a male friend of mine he said maybe she wanted to look provocative. Maybe, I mused, but I doubted it. I will never know. I did not see her again. She may have finished before me. She may even have been running the full marathon. I just hope she finished without chafing!

Salties, how do you handle it when you see a fellow runner with a wardrobe issue? Do you keep quiet to avoid embarrassing her, or do you say something to help save her from additional embarrassment?

I eat miles for breakfast, or occasionally for a snack later in the day. Self proclaimed 50+ and fabulous poster child, US Army vet, college professor, avid runner, yoga enthusiast, guest columnist, and I've used Olay since I was 17 so they should use me in at least one of their ads!

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  1. Unless it’s a safety issue, I don’t see any reason to bring it up. All it would do is make her feel embarrassed and mess up her pace. If chafing was going to be an issue, she’d find out on her own. It’s unlikely she was going to stop and pull them off.

    That said, I saw a guy doing a winter triathlon years ago, and he was developing white frozen patches on his face — that was a safety issue. There was a conversation in that instance.

    1. I agree. There really was not need to say anything to her at that time. I just found out that it was her first race ever and she finished which is the most important thing.

  2. This is tricky. I highly doubt she was doing it intentionally. I have seen many a running wardrobe snafu with white and/or super light colored running gear (I’ve seen silver skirts that show all of your sweat and it looks like you had an accident rather than were racing hard – lesson: don’t ever wear white or super light running clothes if they are tight).

    I agree with DS that the woman would probably be embarrassed/upset if I said anything and it could ruin her race, so I definitely wouldn’t say anything to her mid-race. I might do it if I saw her post-race though because she may not have any idea and may do it again. As a good runner, I’d want my fellow runner to avoid embarrassment. I’d really have to gauge how I thought she might react though first because it could be a touchy topic and I certainly am not going to intentionally poke any bears over the subject.

    1. I found out yesterday that it was her first race ever. She finished which is awesome. I am glad I did not say anything. I just wanted to tell her that I could ‘see’ her, but that I guess was my issue not hers.

  3. i usually won’t say a thing, to each there own is my thinking. BUT, i’ll be honest and let my mind think judgements…lol. as for this woman, it rubs me the wrong way because i feel she was going out of her way to be different, get attention via the ‘shock’ factor. the thing is, women’s running has come SOO far, we’ve had women runners have to pave the way for us to be respected. so i see her using this shock factor as a bit of a slam against all the headway women’s running has made…you know. it’s one thing to race is some cool/funky/awesome clothes, but i think she was just begging for attention. rather, i’d rather some awesome runnerchick demand attention because of how awesome she’s RUNNING…not her lack of clothing choice. that said, i wouldn’t have told her that, to each their own, but i do pass judgement in this instance. i think u gals did the right thing. besides, you passed and beat her anyways! #getchicking 🙂

    1. I, too, would rather be noticed for my running or awesome clothes. I do know that there are many many women who do not know what to wear and if they are just starting are intimidated in sports stores. I was told that you could not ‘see’ anything in front.

  4. I’ve had this issue before when seeing some very sheer black tights in front of me on a walk. I wanted to say something, but just couldn’t figure out how to do it. I would want to know if my crack was on full display, but I think that’s a friend job (this particular lady’s friend was failing in that department). Hopefully the gal with the white tights has a friend who will steer her in the right direction 🙂

  5. I wouldn’t have said anything either. I would bank on the fact that she would either have had a loved on tell her at some point or she’ll notice after the fact when race pictures are posted. Telling her day of and in the moment wouldn’t have changed anything, she couldn’t find a change of pants en route! I’m glad she finished her first race though, that’s great!

    I will also add that I have had issues with gray pants, not even light ones! The second I start sweating, I look like I’ve peed my pants. So I save them for my treadmill at home or wear them to a less sweaty activity. Like lounging around my house 🙂

  6. I wouldn’t have said anything, but probably would have if I saw her after the race. Sometimes you don’t know if your clothing is see-through. I had a pair of capris I would workout in and one night my husband made a comment about how sheer they were. I would have never known, luckily I only wore them to workout at home! Now I always check!