The size variations of equestrian clothing in stores has moved a rider in Sweden to lobby for improved product labeling and sizing.
Viktoria Persson, 24, said in just two years she has noticed a difference in what fits and what does not – despite items being labelled the same size.
Persson, from Halmstad in the south west of Sweden, recently went to her local store to buy a new pair of riding breeches, and was surprised that an item of the same style and size that she already had were not even close to fitting.
“The riding pants I have at home fit perfectly, and after going up two sizes in the store, the new pair still did not fit. They were the largest size in that specific model,” she said.
“This experience made me realize that in equestrian advertising skinny blonde models are also the norm. And that this is a big mismatch with the diversity of more athletically built equestrians of today.”
This prompted Persson to think about the message such experiences sent to young people in horse sport: “A sport that I think can be free from the weight ideals that are so strong in our world these days.”
So she started a campaign against “body ideals” in the equestrian world, and to urge manufacturers to admit that there is an issue and to make a change.
Persson said she has had a massive response to the petition on her blog, and interest in the topic from around Europe, with Dutch media in particular picking up on the issue.
“We want manufacturers and retailers to work towards the proper labeling of the sizes of products, providing products in a larger size range, and show a variation in advertising acknowledging that people are different in body size, gender, and the color of their skin,” Persson says.
“It’s okay to be who we are.”
Persson started riding at the age of 10, and got her first pony at the age of 13. She has had horses since then, and graduated from nursing school in 2014. “I love my choice of career. But I had also seen what the pressure of fitting into ‘an ideal’ can make people do to their body.
“The skinny ideal has been proven to cause problems with anorexia, especially for young girls. Today girls want to look athletic but this body type is not well addressed by equestrian brands,” Persson said.