The Tulane Hullabaloo

Reily clothing restrictions reinforce harmful body-shaming behavior

Daniel Horowitz | Senior Staff Photographer

Ella Helmuth, Senior Staff Writer

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Recently, Reily Student Recreation Center put up signs throughout the gym areas informing students and Reily members of a new dress code, which prohibits uncovered sports bras and other underarm-bearing tops, such as cut-out t-shirts, apparently in the interest of preventing infection. Rather than dictate what Reily patrons should be wearing, Reily staff should promote proper disinfecting practices and encourage students not to share equipment.

According to the Mayo Clinic, MRSA is an infection caused by staph bacteria resistant to many of the drugs used to treat regular staph. It abounds in patients at hospitals going through invasive procedures, but it can also affect healthy people, spreading by skin-to-skin contact, typically within sports teams (specifically wrestling), child-care professionals or people living in crowded conditions.

MRSA is something worth worrying about. It can be a devastating infection and can resist many drugs used to treat it, making it incredibly dangerous. It does sometimes spread in gyms and sports facilities. Reily, however, is not handling concerns about MRSA and other infectious diseases effectively.

There is no medical evidence that exposing one’s armpits causes or encourages the spread of MRSA and other infections that spread in gyms, but there are policies that athletic facilities and those who frequent them can undertake to prevent the spread of infections.

The new dress code affects men, women and everyone outside of the binary, and body shaming and insecurities know no gender. That said, the brunt of enforcement falls on female Reily attendees who are more likely to wear the workout attire the new dress code prohibits. Not only is there no medical reason for this dress code, it is also incredibly inappropriate to dictate the wardrobe choices of women and men on this campus or anywhere else.

Athletic attire can already be a source of insecurity for those who identify as women. Body insecurities and unwelcome comparisons abound in a world in which women are already shuffled away from certain spaces, such as the weight room, and evaluated based on facets of their fitness, like weight.

Instead of encouraging people not to expose their armpits, Reily can encourage them to do things like bringing their own exercise mats and not sharing towels. It can also publicize how to recognize an infection so proper treatment can be obtained. Gym-goers should be taught to watch for rashes or sores that could be signs of infection, red rashes for athlete’s foot, or jock itch and changing bumps that look like insect bites for MRSA and staph.

To ban Reily patrons from wearing revealing workout attire in a fitness environment is absurd. It is a direct affront to confidence and body positivity. Everyone should wear what they please. We’re adults, and sports bras do not cause MRSA. 

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Ella is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected]

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4 Responses to “Reily clothing restrictions reinforce harmful body-shaming behavior”

  1. H on October 6th, 2017 12:41 pm

    This is fucking stupid

  2. A on October 9th, 2017 10:46 am

    I find it absurd than any time clothing is mentioned, someone at Tulane finds a reason to consider it “body shaming.”
    Every gym that I have ever been to has a dress code. Wearing appropriate clothing while working out is extremely important for safety reasons… loose clothing can snag on equipment, un uncovered skin is obviously more prone to scraping and injury if someone were to fall off a piece of equipment, have something dropped on them, etc.
    And, yes, there are health reasons for this dress code. Sweat obviously carries lots of bacteria, which could contain disease. Having parts of the body that are prone to sweating the most covered by clothing lessens and/or prevents the transfer of sweat onto gym equipment.
    This being said, it still is important for Reily patrons to wipe down equipment after use, but often times people do not do this very thoroughly, or at all. I find the new dress code completely appropriate, and not an attempt to “body shame” students, or to infringe on our “rights” to “wear whatever we want” in any way.

  3. J on October 9th, 2017 6:27 pm

    This isn’t a new dress code. It’s just being advertised because people won’t listen to staff when they’re told to adhere to it. It’s not about armpits exposed, but rather the torso. It’s not body shaming- it’s just health-conscious. Don’t be dumb

  4. Sam Flora on October 10th, 2017 11:11 pm

    As someone who works at Reily, i find the fact that you didn’t bother to read our policy offensive. No part of our dress code policy is in any way body shaming. The majority of people who break this rule are not girls but rather men, and having an exposed armpit is not the issue. An exposed back, midriff, and chest are the main focuses of our dress code. Also there are plenty of athletic options that don’t reveal these key areas of the body. Also if we are talking about it being not fair, keep in mind that Tulane is a private university, and they can enact a dress code if they want, let alone in the professional world it is common practice to have some sort of dress code. Most university gyms have this kind of policy, and its never about the aesthetics of the patrons. It is always about the health and safety of the patrons. The Reily professional staff work hard each and every day to make Tulane students as comfortable and happy with their experience with Reily. Finally, this policy has been around for years, and are just now enforcing it because there have been cases of MRSA along with other sweat transmitted diseases within Reily.

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Reily clothing restrictions reinforce harmful body-shaming behavior