A Feminist Issue: Let’s Talk About the Back Zippers On Women’s Clothing


I've spent years now encouraging people to have difficult conversations, to talk about the things that are bothering them and yet, remain unspoken. I've read the research showing that couples who argue effectively, instead of staying quiet and avoiding conflict are ten times more likely to have a happy relationship.

In that spirit, I want to talk about something that really, really bothers me: zippers down my back.

There are many reasons to complain about women's clothing, particularly in reference to the ways that female clothing differs from men's. First, and most obviously, women have been objectified for centuries and their clothing has reflected this, even when designed and created by women. Our clothing is often unnecessarily revealing, for example. Why on earth would a woman want a swimsuit that comes off when we're swimming, for example? Many swimsuits only stay on our bodies if we sit prettily in them instead of using them for their stated purpose.

Then, there's the idiocy of pantyhose. Expensive, fragile, difficult for the differently able to put on, and yet some workplaces still insist that nylons are necessary because a woman's bare legs are offensive. Don't get me started on stiletto heels. A third of women who wear them have fallen at some point, and the unnatural position of the foot in heels can cause permanent damage to the tendons, as well as nerve damage.

What's more: pockets. Men have had functional pockets since at least the 1600s while women had to carry purses instead. A study done in 2018 found that the pockets in women's jeans are half as long as the pockets in men's' jeans and more than six percent narrower. In response, Ben Barry of the Ryerson School of Fashion told CTVNews that "the size difference in pockets perpetuates and reinforces gender inequality and is a manifestation of patriarchy."

I could go on, of course. The sizes aren't consistent. Women have more options, but our clothes tend to be of lower quality and more expensive than men's. All of these issues are important and have been discussed by experts in the field.

I, however, want to focus on clothing that zips up from the back. Why is society still making this and why are we still buying it?

I would love to watch some men throw a dress over their heads and then try to zip it all the way up to their necks. There are hundreds of products on sale that promise to help you put your clothing on. And the Today Show offered a simple piece of advice for those times when you're going through an "existential crisis" because no matter how much you contort your body, "the zipper pull is just out of reach." Their solution is to use a safety pin and a length of ribbon; my solution is to boycott dresses that have zippers in the back.

After all, clothing manufacturers often don't even bother to install a high-quality zipper that requires only light tug to move gracefully up your back. I'm not sure why they call them zippers at all. They don't zip. You're reaching your arm back behind you with all the desperation of a murder victim who's just been stabbed, you finally get the zipper to move and it then gets snagged on a piece of fabric.

It's mind boggling to think that people are still dealing with this lunacy. We can build self-driving cars and reusable rockets, but we can't figure out how to make zippers work properly?

If a clothing designer is going to put a bad zipper in a piece of clothing, better be sure it's not in the back. But since we're on subject, why oh why is it in the back in the first place? There are four sides to my body and three of them are absolutely perfect for seeing a zipper, getting a good grip on it, and zipping it up. So why? Why, in the name of all that is holy, do clothes makers insist on putting the zipper on the one side of my body that I can't see and can't reach without engaging in extreme yoga?

To me, this is a feminist issue. Going back through history, it's clear that women were meant to remain disadvantaged and to require assistance when going about the regular tasks of living.

Do men have zippers and buttons on the backs of their clothing? Is there a single piece of men's clothing that puts the zipper in the back? No! It's only women whose clothing requires them to have help in order to get dressed. It's a relic of age-old discrimination against single women and a punishment for those who try to live independently.

Historically, females were supposed to move directly from our parents' house to our husbands. So, there was always supposed to be someone there to yank up that zipper.

Here's an idea: let's start a zipper revolution. Boycott the back zipper. Refuse to buy that dress or top or jumpsuit unless the zipper is located in a place that doesn't require a chiropractor visit to reach it.

Zippers on the side are welcome. Buttons in the front are wonderful. Wrap dresses are cool by me. But let's end the tyranny of the back zipper once and for all.

3 Min Read

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.