British Columbia

'I felt humiliated': gym user asked to change clothing over alleged gluteal fold exposure

University of Victoria grad says she was told to change because buttocks were exposed

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The Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities at the University of Victoria has a dress code that includes covering the gluteal fold. (Martlet)

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A University of Victoria graduate said she was wrongly asked to change her outfit while working out at the campus gym last month.

Luiza, whose surname is not being used in this story because of concerns over online harassment, said a staff member approached her while she was using one of the machines on July 31.

The employee said there was a new dress code in place that barred short-shorts, and that Luiza would need to change because hers weren't long enough. 

Specifically, she was told her shorts violated the code by exposing the gluteal folds, or the crease at the bottom of the buttocks.

However, Luiza said her gym attire was appropriate for a hot summer day.

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Luiza says the shorts she wore to the university gym did not violate the dress code by exposing her gluteal folds. (Luiza)

"They [the shorts] are a couple inches below my butt so they cover everything ... I think they are appropriate for the gym," she said.

"Those shorts give me a full range of motion when I am doing exercises such as squats and dead lifts and that's why I like wearing them."

Luiza said she felt humiliated when she was told to change in front of everyone in the gym.

"Everyone is still staring at me," she said. "I was so embarrassed I wanted to hide my butt, even though it wasn't showing.

"You know, this policy just creates this environment of body criticism."

Michelle Peterson, associate director of finance and operations with Vikes athletics and recreation, the university's athletics arm, said Luiza was asked to leave because of concerns around the gluteal folds.

"I wasn't there at the time she was approached by the staff," the staffer said, "But it would have been due to the activity she was doing when it would not have been covering the gluteal fold. That is the defining factor."

Peterson added that the dress code has evolved based on feedback from the community and student organizations.

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University staff says Luiza was asked to change her clothes because her shorts violated the dress code. (The Martlet)

"We recognize that a dress code for our fitness facilities is a sensitive matter to discuss or enforce but it's not our intention to embarrass or make people uncomfortable," she said. "We really strive to deal with such concerns in a confidential and compassionate manner."

University dress codes

The University of Victoria's campus gym dress code is stricter than other major universities in the province. 

The University of British Columbia doesn't have a dress code, although the university said in a statement that there is an ongoing discussion about developing one.

Simon Fraser University's recreation department doesn't have specific rules around shorts of the gluteal fold, either.

"When it comes to shorts and bottoms, we want everyone to feel welcome here," said Nick Sirski, SFU's fitness coordinator. "We're pretty inclusive in that manner."

Luiza said she's been in touch with university staff since the incident and is hoping to arrange a meeting to discuss the dress code and its enforcement.

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