Last month, while skiing at Heavenly in California, I found myself on a chairlift with three men. These men were friends and had skied together at Heavenly for over 40 years. We didn’t have a lot in common, other than the enjoyment of a beautiful ski day, so I didn’t mind when they began a conversation without me.
I didn’t mind, that is, until, the topic of the conversation turned to stretch pants. It was like this:
Man One: Do you remember that gal, she was an instructor here in the ’70s….ummm….what was her name?
Man Two: Oh yeah, I remember her. Gorgeous blonde, wore stretch pants. Didn’t dress like the gals today, wearing pants that look like a bag of cats.
Man One: Exactly, but what was her name?
Man Three: Dana. Dana from Montana.
Man One: That’s it. She was nice to ski behind…and walk behind. (Turns to me, the token and much younger female on the chairlift) If you know what I mean.
Actually guys, I don’t know what you mean. And while I sat through this conversation with a pleasant look on my face, I don’t care to know what you mean either.
It’s a Man’s World?
Talking last winter with an editor from SKI and Skiing, I asked about their magazine demographics. The answer: overwhelmingly male, in their 20s-40s (Skiing) and 30s-50s (SKI), who take one or two-week long “guy” trips per season. Female readers? Not so many.
What’s interesting about this is that men are not the future of skiing. While more men than women ski, the industry recognizes that to grow, they need to get families skiing. And to get families skiing, they need to court women. Talk to most any ski industry representative and you’ll hear the same theme: if the moms ski, the kids ski, and the family spends money on skiing.
So What Happened to Stretch Pants?
Not long after the above conversation, I was reading the March-April 2012 issue of Skiing Heritage magazine. Like SKI and Skiing, the readership is probably overwhelmingly male. A feature of this edition was a photo spread titled “You Were So Beautiful” which featured (you guessed it!) photos of women from the ’60s and ’70s in stretch pants. And if you thought the conversation I overheard was obnoxious, the intro to this piece was a tutorial in full-blown chauvinism.
Which brings me back to my title: Curves or Turns? Apparently, in the minds of a certain generation of skiing men, the “good old days” include days when women wore tight, uncomfortable, itchy and not very warm pants. Fashion dictated and women followed.
We’re not so different today. Many of us who ski like looking good. And every few seasons we’ll buy a new coat or pants based on the latest colors and style. But we also want to be warm (hence the “bag of cats” pants), safe (helmets, which Skiing Heritage bemoans for mussing our hair) and see where we’re going (goggles, which cover our “smiling eyes” – again from Skiing Heritage).
And guess what, since we control the spending, there is little demand for stretch pants. We’re not out on the slopes to show off our curves. We’re there to kick some butt with our turns.
Don’t get left behind, guys.
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