So let's talk workout clothes. I recently tweeted out that finding a nice, light, breathable, pls be summer-wearable-i-beg-you long-sleeve workout top. Finding long-sleeve workout tops is honestly the most challenging part of being a hijab-wearing runner. I was discussing this with a friend of mine earlier - my friend works at a really high end athletic store that surprisingly doesn't have much running selection, which she actually didn't realize until I mentioned it - they only have running shorts and tank tops.

PLEASE DON'T GET ME WRONG HERE: The shorts are really cute. It's an ethical brand and they're making moves in the right direction in terms of sustainability but also what does a girl have to do to find a pair of summer running joggers. I want to look cute while I'm running and feel great too. 

When I mentioned to her that I couldn't find any long-sleeve running tops she pointed out that it's not the season for long-sleeve. I then brought the point up that well I'm in long-sleeve all season and I don't only exist in the winter or just for company campaigns that champion inclusion on the posters but are the leaders of exclusion on their store floors.

Obviously I wasn't coming for her as if this was her issue, and I said that with some sugar coated on it,  I was just pointing out the imbalance of what companies preach and what their words without action store floors look like. Her comment of it's not the season really stuck with me for a few reasons, though. I was looking to buy the Tala - Grace Beverley's amazing sustainable, ethical, beautiful tip top of an ice-berg of athletic companies  athletic-wear company - Aster Crop. It was a long-sleeve crop and I was thinking of putting a breathable tank top underneath and bam a cute outfit to workout/run in.

Except here was the problem:

I couldn't find a long breathable tank top anywhere.
I'm not talking floor length, I'm just talking I'd like a lil bit of coverage in the back for my bottom, that's all. I searched just about everywhere: Adidas, Nike, Under Armour, New Balance etc. Nike has a tank top that looked like what I had in mind but it was out of stock and also Nike isn't really the most ethical company and I'm trying to be a bit more ethical with my purchases so I wasn't really all that thrilled to what I would inevitably be contributing to: the existence of sweat shops that are filled with native people to the third world country Nike decided to settle in and are making pennies instead of an actual living wage.

The more consumers purchase from these companies, the more they- CEO's of these companies -  brush the issue of decent livable wages and proper working conditions under the rug - once you know about these people making those clothes that are such a bargain you can't un-know.

I'm not here to preach all about sustainability. I wear a Nike Hijab, Nike Long-Sleeve top, and Nike Sneakers. I'm trying to be better. I'm trying.  Nike champions Muslim women - Ibtihaj Muhammad, fencer for Team USA and Zeina, Boxer from Germany -  but who is making those clothes? A major factory(s) for them in is in Vietnam. In 2015, the Institute of Global and Labour and Human Rights had an article stating that Nike paid their workers 27 cents an hour in 2012 and in 2015 began paying them 48-69 cents an hour. As of 2016, they earn 118 - 171 US Dollars a month.

After sifting though the major players in the athletic world, including lululemon - they had what I was looking for but that price point killed my soul a lil bit -  I began to think of Muslim Owned businesses.

But here's the issue: They don't know their target demographic.

Or they do, and they want to drain me dry like the Sahara Desert because they know they are my last (i'm sorry but this is the honest truth. Their price range/points are not at all affordable for a student, recent grad or anyone really within that limbo of a target demographic. they need to do better and understand their target demographic, and take some notes from Grace Beverly whose brand is ethical, eco-friendly, and affordable) resort for athletic-wear.

I purchased from one shop once, the fabric wasn't that light weight and in some ways I felt that it negatively effected my leg range of motion. There was too much fabric going on. At the moment I run 7'20 min/mile on a regular and sprinting at 4'52 min/mile in my speed workouts with that top on was just uncomfortable due to the length and fabric of the top.

This limbo of a forgotten target demographic has lead me to the only logical conclusion:

Read a manual on the sewing machine I have, wipe the dust off of it and watch a youtube video on how to use said sewing machine (hi I'm a visual and kinesthetic learner so reading a manual, although good to fill in gaps, is honestly the worst way for me to learn something) to make my own tank-top and running joggers.

They may not look cute. They may have some zig-zagged stitching because I'm below the level of a beginner. But someone's gotta pick up the slack and since companies are failing me in athletic-wear, this is sort of the only available option. I'd like to wear that Aster Crop from Tala, and that tank-top I need underneath probably won't look like something out of Athleta, but it'll be a start to wearing clothes that fit me the way they're supposed to.

Most of my joggers are from either Nike or Old Navy (as of recent I've eyed one from Adidas too but I have research to do for their ethics.) Most of my athletic shopping for tops is in the men's section, and yes they have some comfy long-sleeve tops and I'm forever grateful for the men's section prices that are a blessing for this broke recent grad, but for once I'd like to wear something that was made for the intended target demographic. I teach myself a lot of new things, partially to fill my time and to make sure I don't fall in a black hole of demoralization and degradation of the tech interview process to get a full time job as a Software Engineer and partially because I like challenges.

I like jumping hurdles and look forward to jumping this one.

What's everyone's experience shopping for athletic-wear? I'd love to hear of any new places you know of! Or do you also sometimes feel that in some ways although companies preach about inclusion in their campaigns (whether that be make-up, athletic-wear etc.) but their store floors/products don't reflect that? Let's get this conversation going!