Gym Class ~ Mars Hill College ~ Early 1920s

And to think that I thought my 1960s gym suit was tacky!

This photo was taken at Mars Hill College, which is just north of Asheville, NC, around 1922. The bloomers don’t do much for these young ladies, but I think the middy tops are quite cute! Notice that some of them are wearing stockings and I love the shoes.

I can imagine that they hated this outfit. Maybe some of them saw the bloomers as easy to wear and comfortable, but there’s just something about the idea of a gymsuit that doesn’t quite sit well with the forced-to-wear-it wearer.

When I started junior high in the late 1960s, our gymsuits were white and one piece. Looking back, I can see that they were really quite flattering, or would have been if they had been a nice color. But they were the bane of our existance, and a subject of constant concern. Probably the biggest complaint was that the boys were not required to wear a uniform, and so we were always playing the fairness card. But the truth of the matter was that we thought they were ugly and that they made us look ugly. The teacher always pointed out that PE classes were separate from the boys anyway so what did it matter?

By the time I was a senior in high school in 1973, our dress code had faced a court challenge and had been abolished, but the gymsuits were still required for girls. I can remember how we all just decided to stop wearing them. I guess the school system decided it was not a battle worth fighting, because nothing was ever said. That left us shaking our heads and kicking ourselves, wishing we had tried this earlier!

During this period of gymsuitedness, I complained to my mother who replied with something to the effect that I should have seen the gymsuit SHE was forced to wear in the 1940s. Now that was ugly! So I was surprised to see pictures of her 1949 class in their cute little green gym dresses with bloomer panties beneath. Now THAT was a gymsuit I could wear!

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Filed under North Carolina, Sportswear, Vintage Photographs

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