As Major League Baseball's Opening Day approaches (falling, this year, on Sunday, March 31), many female fans of the sport may find themselves thinking ahead to summer days in the park and wondering, What am I going to WEAR?
(That's a joke.)
Sporting goods stores are ramping up for seasonal sports apparel, and chief among the makers of sports apparel designed for women is Victoria's Secret, which, just in time for the first game of the season, is offering a free express shipping upgrade for any Pink MLB purchase. There's just one problem with the promotion: The Yankees tank top worn by the model appears to have been dipped halfway into a paper shredder prior to delivery. (See above.)
Far be it from me to determine the legitimacy of fringe as a fashion trend (although actually, why not, I do have eyeballs), but this is a shirt in the classic irritating tradition of girly-fied, pink-soaked, sexed-up sports apparel for women.
Pink sports apparel for women was a thing well before Pink the brand, but Victoria's Secret reintroduced girlish sports clothes to the marketplace in a big way when it first announced its collaboration with the MLB in 2010, after much success with the "Collegiate Collection" featuring T-shirts and sweatpants designed with schools' colors and mascots.
If there were definite things to celebrate about the Pink/MLB partnership — more importantly, an expanded availability of women's sports clothes has to mean, on some level, a recognition that lots and lots of women are devoted sports fans; less importantly, the trendier Pink items might've encouraged other companies' shift from that weird cap-sleeved, baby-thin collar thing women's sports T-shirts seemed so often to have going on — there was also cause for egalitarian concern: Why did so much of the clothing on offer have to sparkle?
This is partly a function of the Pink brand itself, which rarely met a crystal or stud it didn't want to stick immediately on its butt, but it has also long been a problem with MLB-affiliated women's clothing at large. For a number of years, this Minnesota Twins fan bought little boys' shirts in XXL because the men's clothes were too big and the women's clothes looked like princess costumes.
Much of the Pink line (while cute) is at least functional as fan gear — team color track jackets, hoodies, sweatpants. And though there is something within me and many a strident female baseball fan that wants to reject cuteness — because it doesn't look like what we're used to seeing serious fans wear — I think that's something those of us who feel that way ought to challenge. Wearing a lower-V-neck T-shirt that is tailored more closely to the shape of a woman's body doesn't mean the woman in it isn't serious about the sport, just as a guy in an authentic MLB team jersey doesn't necessarily know anything about the bullpen just because he's yelling it loudly or calling it into a post-game radio show — or, for that matter, hosting one. (Once, in the car with my dad, we listened to a fan call in and suggest that closers should start the game, an inning each at a time, leaving the starters to finish the last five or six. People call in with bright ideas like that every day!!)
What we could stand to cut down on, though, is the pink and the sequins. At least for the most part. It might be a hard line to define, but there is a line between cute and cutesy. The predominance of pink and sequins (and the number left on sale) seems to reflect more what male sports apparel designers think women fans would want to be wearing than what we'd pick for ourselves. We could stand to agree (as even Victoria's Secret has … mostly) that team jerseys belong in team colors, even when they are horrible looking. It's not that a female Yankees fan shouldn't feel free to DIY her shirt to within an inch of its life if she so chooses — it's that offering it pre-manufactured, on this scale, suggests, at a certain point, that female fans care more about how cute and flirty we look than we do about the game in front of us.