Yesterday on Twitter, I announced an offer:
For any tech conference I attend which provides t-shirts in my size, I will donate $100 to the event or to a related non-profit or charity.
The small print:
- The t-shirts must be provided as standard and available to all attendees, not custom-made just for me.
- My t-shirt size is 24″ measured from armpit to armpit, unstretched, in a women’s “fitted” cut. This is roughly the same diameter as a men’s XL.
- If the event is a volunteer-run/non-profit/donation-accepting event I will donate the $100 to the event itself. Otherwise, I will donate to a closely-related non-profit or charity such as an open source software foundation, the EFF, or similar.
- I will do this for the first 5 events that meet my criteria, or 2 years, whichever comes first.
A word on sizing. Women’s/fitted tshirts provided at events or for sale online usually max out somewhere around 40″ bust measurement, plus or minus a few inches. For instance, Thinkgeek’s largest women’s size, XXL, is 36″ in circumference, equivalent to a men’s S. American Apparel’s women’s 2XL tshirt supposedly fits around a 44″-46″ bust though AA run small. The actual size of their largest women’s tshirt, measured with a tape measure, is 42″, and falls between a men’s M and L.
Here’s a picture of an AA women’s 2XL laid out over a men’s L. As you can see, the largest women’s size is smaller than a men’s L:
Now, I recognise I’m a large woman. But I’m not that large. Without breasts, I would be a stocky little guy with a bit of a paunch, and take a size L tshirt. With breasts — and again, they’re large but they’re not that large — I’m off the scale.
Don’t tell me I can wear a straight-cut/unisex/men’s tshirt. I don’t want to. Yes, some women prefer straight-cut shirts or find that they fit well. I am not one of them. And my size/shape/t-shirt preference is not a rare one.
When I wear a straight-cut shirt, it pulls across my chest and hips, sags around my waist, bunches under my armpits, creeps up to choke me, and the sleeves hang down to my elbows. I feel awkward and uncomfortable and I spend a good part of your conference thinking about how I look and feel, rather than about the subject at hand. I really hope that’s not what you want me to remember about your event.
Photo credit: Kathy Sierra, under CC-BY-NC-SA, from her Creating Passionate Users blog.
So here’s what I want event organisers to do. Find a vendor that provides women’s/fitted t-shirts in sizes that go up to 24″ measured armpit to armpit. Yes, there are a number of them out there — but American Apparel is not one of them. Have those t-shirts at your conference for any attendees who want them. And I will donate $100 to your event or to a closely-related charity or non-profit.
Who else is with me? (Or, since cash donations aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, feel free to propose other incentives in comments.)