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Sports Bra Inventor on Her Hopes to Inspire Female Inventors

Sports Bra Inventor on Her Hopes to Inspire Female Inventors
Photographer: Andy Art

Sometimes inventions can become so essential that it’s hard to imagine a time when they didn’t exist. Zippers, Band-Aids and Chap-Stick all were trademarked inventions that found a settled place into people’s homes and vocabulary. In 1977, the sports bra didn’t exist. It’s now a staple in women’s closets. But Lisa Z. Lindahl, the creator of the sports bra, encountered many hurdles to her eventual success. Lindahl joins Bold TV to talk about her book Unleash the Girls and how her creation changed the world and, ultimately, herself. 

When the Sports Bra Became a Feminist Icon

Lindahl’s idea sprang up in a way familiar to many innovators: she had a problem and created the solution. She needed an undergarment that doubled as athletic gear. What she didn’t know was how her process would become a story of women overcoming obstacles of relationships, business partners, vulnerabilities and doubts. When the Smithsonian put the original Jogbra in their archives, Lindahl decided this story needed to be told in a book called Unleash the Girls. The sports bra changed how women thought about themselves. Now the invention’s journey is as inspiring as the garment itself.

Sports bra

Building Something Important for Women

The creators of the sports bra are now in the inventors hall of fame. But at the beginning, how could they know the success that awaited them? They just had a solution they hoped other people needed, too. But women building something that improves the lives of other women is important. When Lindahl and her partner were searching for financing, people laughed in their faces. Men didn’t want bras in their sporting goods stores. But these women had a clear purpose. Lindahl says that your character helps you persevere. If your inner strength is resilient, your small idea can turn into something greater than you imagined. This world is a place where undergarments can make it into a museum. So unleash the power of the girl!

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