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Recently, I discovered POWWFUL, a Chicago-based, women-owned brand of colorful sports bras. As a woman who often wears sports bras, enjoys bright colors and loves supporting women-owned local businesses, I was intrigued. After following them on social media for a bit, and interacting with their content, Lotika, one of the powerful women behind the brand, reached out to ask me to meet.

Right to Left: The Triangle, The Mag Mile, The Flamingo 

Over lunch, Lotika and I talked about her journey to start POWWFUL, about my experience as a runner and blogger, and about women, Chicago, life, the current political landscape, and feeling powerful. It was a great conversation! I already loved what I saw of the POWWFUL brand, so it was really awesome to learn that one of the founders behind the brand was such a wonderful, relatable person.

One thing I really love about POWWFUL is what it stands for. There are a lot of brands out there aimed at women. But how many brands out there are for women BY women? And now many are dedicated to making women not just feel good about themselves, but feel powerful?

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From the POWWFUL website

The message behind POWWFUL really resonated with me. For the past few years, I’ve been enjoying pushing the limits of my physical power. Running farther and faster (when my knee allows), and lifting heavier and more often. I love feeling physically strong. That’s not something women are often encouraged to do. We’re encouraged to look skinny and fit, to be strong emotionally, but we’re not encouraged to actually be physically strong, for fear of looking “manly.” F that, I want to look strong. I want to make you intimidated.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about this idea of women being emotionally strong. I think it’s something we take for granted. We assume it’s a given that all women are emotionally strong and can put up with a lot of crap, or just “deal with it.” I have a close [male] friend who has been challenging me to take up space. Men are so used to taking up space in our society. Physically – hello manspreading, something I deal with daily on the bus. But also by taking up most of the positions of power, leadership, representation not just in politics but in pop culture and media, etc. Their voices are heard. We know their stories and their struggles. A man opens his mouth, people listen. Not just that, but men aren’t encouraged to do emotional labor. They often dump that, unknowingly, on the women in their lives. And the women just do that work for them. Why?  Do we even realize we’re doing it. (For many years, no, I didn’t.)

And what about women taking up space, not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and in our society? I didn’t realize it until my friend pointed it out, but I was trying to take up as little “space” as possible. At work. At home. In relationships. Even at burlesque rehearsals that were mostly women. Everywhere. I didn’t speak up for myself and make my voice or opinion – or needs – heard. I didn’t want to rock the boat or make waves, or god forbid, but any trouble. I waited for someone else to notice me and/or my needs and call it out … and that rarely happens. And as a result, for too many years, my needs went unnoticed and unmet.

So to me, being powerful isn’t just about physical strength or emotional strength … but mental strength. Not being afraid to take up space. Instead of always being the one to shoulder everyone else’s needs.

This was all part of the conversation I had with Lotika, and while I don’t necessarily need a sports bra to change my life, I appreciate knowing that the women behind the bra I’m wearing get me. (It would be great if I felt this way about other products I use, but … baby steps.)

Plus, yeah, the bras are really cute. And they featured me among their Powerful Girl Crushes

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As for the actual bras – I love them! I’ve tried three so far – three to go 🙂

The Flamingo is my favorite – it’s the one I’m wearing at the top of the post. I wouldn’t change a thing about this bra.It’s supportive enough for a run (for reference, I wear a D-cup right now), but works well for any workout. It’s extremely comfortable and flattering.

The Triangle, which I’m wearing in the photo right above this list, is my favorite style. It’s supportive enough to wear on a run, or any other workout. The straps are a little thin, so you might notice them on your shoulders, but I’ve worn the bra for hours at a time and it’s not uncomfortable.

The Mag Mile – of course I tried this one! 🙂  In addition to the great name, I love the colors. It’s a little bit lower cut in front, so I make sure to wear a higher cut top over it. (Yes, sometimes I am modest, LOL.) Also the elastic around the bottom doesn’t go all the way around, so it’s better for workouts like yoga and weightlifting.

All of the bras I tried were made of super soft performance material and had removable cups. I’ve machine-washed them all (on delicate) and air-dried and they’ve held up. Plus they are only $36, which is a great price for a well-made and cute bra. I typically wear a 34D these days, and the Mediums fit me well.

  • What makes you feel powerful?
  • Do you feel like you take up a reasonable amount of space, or do you try to take up as little emotional space as possible?
  • If you named a sports bra after a Chicago landmark/icon, which would you choose? The 312, The Loop and The Lift are also taken. (You can read about the names on their website.)