Op-Ed: Should We Ban the “Butt-Huggers”?

Erin Byrnes, Editor

Recently a mother in Sayville expressed her concerns towards the revealing girls cross country uniforms provided by her local public school. These are often referred to as “butt huggers” or “runderwear” and are spandex briefs made for racing. Most runners often prefer these, as opposed to regular running shorts, because they cut down on wind resistance and can determine if you to win or lose a race by a fraction of a second. On the other hand, they often draw more attention to the individual wearing them and can cause concern from parents and spectators.

From the standpoint of a runner, the last thing that I would want to be worrying about while racing is my uniform. Here at Farmingdale, the option for the briefs is not available. We are allowed to pay for them and wear them but most opt not to. Running in the square bottom shorts often ride up so, as you are focused on trying to pass the next girl in front of you, the focus is lost because the feeling of discomfort rises… literally. According to an article from News 12 Long Island, Sayville Public Schools released a letter (in response to the mother’s complaint) expressing that all athletes have a choice of which bottoms they want to wear and most girls choose the briefs. The uniform is approved by Section XI rules and by the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association. The option to choose your bottoms is clearly available to all and even is brought to the highest level of running in the Olympics. You see that in each event every individual has their own preference in their uniform style.  They range from the briefs to almost-to-the-knee spandex. Every runner has the freedom to make a personal choice about which option makes them feel more comfortable to race in.

While the mother’s instinct to protect her daughter is honorable, her reasonings behind this are irrational. She is solely basing these ideas on the idea that her daughter and other teen girls are being made the target of  “lecherous looks,” as she said to CBS New York. Most people who attend races are members of the running community, not people who know nothing of the sport. Spectators of the sport understand the purpose and functionality of the uniform and don’t judge the girls for what they race in. Yes, this mother is allowed to share her opinions on the topic; however, they are irrelevant due to the fact that she is not a runner. She has no personal experiences to directly relate to the topic.  In the comments section of every article about this topic, real runner moms speak out expressing that these uniforms are nothing new. When they ran in high school 30 to 45 years ago these bottoms were used often.  They are presenting their opinions as well, with facts on the topic that are valid to due to their own personal experiences and knowledge of the sport.

The point is not to fight over if they should be mandatory or banned, the point is the choice. If you are putting yourself out there to achieve goals, you want to have the chance to perform to your best potential and feel comfortable with your choices of attire. At the end of the day, racing bottoms aren’t meant to be attractive or raise looks, they are made for better performance and a true athlete would understand that.


* photo via Google Images under the Creative Commons license