15 January 2009

Real Women?


Geoff, one of our readers, sent this along to us. With this comment:
I've grown so accustomed to your stylish photos [on Copenhagen Cycle Chic - Ed.], that when I saw this image on another blog, I became just a little bit depressed.

I'm an American, so the outfits don't stand out as much for me, but labeling the women as "real" is unfortunate as now other people will think they need lots of technical clothing to go on a little ride to the park. Even if you're not stylish, just wear what you have on. Anyways, you've heard it all before, but this time it's from one of the US's biggest bicycle companies.


It is, indeed, interesting and another example of overcomplicating cycling in order to sell unecessary equipment and clothing. A continued branding of cycling only as a 'sport' or a 'hobby' and not as a feasible, sensible transport option for either commuting or just popping down the shops for a loaf of bread.

Are they 'real women' or are they merely 'Trek women' and not much else? Right off the bat, I'm sure that they are all lovely people. No problem there. But in best Copenhagenize style I wonder about this definition of them as 'real' women.

What is Trek saying? That real women wear 'sports clothing' when they ride a bicycle and, if you wish to be real, you should ride a bicycle in the same fashion as these featured 'real women' and invest in man-made fibres? Perhaps the copyrighter misunderstood the gig. Maybe he/she meant to write "real sports/recreation cycling enthusiasts of the female persuasion" but the brevity demanded of the internet made it get cut down to size.

Can real 'real' women not ride a bicycle as it was intended when invented in the late 19th century or does that make them unreal?
Surveying Her Kingdom
Imagine if this gold-plated statue celebrating the Danish 'cycling girl' high above the Copenhagen City Hall square was one of these 'real women'. She would look quite different. And would probably be sponsored by some sporting goods company. Thankfully, she doesn't and despite being erected in the 1930's, she looks much the same as real Copenhagen women today.

Trek wants to sell gear and clothing and bicycles. Fair enough. They're a company. It's a market economy. But do they really need to insult the hundreds of millions of women who ride their bicycle each and every day around the world, wearing the clothes in their closets and riding comfortable, non-sporty bicycles? Not to mention completely dissing the millions of American women who should be presented with everyday cycling as the effortless, enjoyable activity it is. If I owned a bike company in North America, I know I'd be tapping into this gold mine instead of trying to get a couple of thousand women to join bike clubs.

Real Women? I'll show you real women. They're on Copenhagen Cycle Chic every day but here's just a hasty, random collection from the Copenhagen Cyle Chic group on Flickr. From around the world. Real women, living real lives and just happening to do so on a bicycle.
Copenhagen Supermum Francine Carla always with her bike! zoooom Purple And Red Do Mix za-za-za zacuza zacuza Serious print #11 Il Pleut Dans Ma Ville