Lisa Z. Lindahl Unleash the Girls, black and white cover shown on a Kindle in a purple case

Continuing my quest to finish the older items on my NetGalley TBR, here is one that, shamefully, I downloaded in September 2021 (it’s not the one I’ve had the longest, but it is the oldest publication on there). Every now and again, when I’ve finished my reads published in the current month, I’m picking one of these up.

Lisa Z. Lindahl – “Unleash the Girls: The Untold Story of the Invention of the Sports Bra and How It Changed the World (And Me)”

(25 September 2021; NetGalley)

I just find it so fascinating, and truly ironic, that the sports bra – a true gift to girls and omen – was to a great degree born out of such a contentious relationship between two women. It was powerful fuel for my own inner search and growth.

That quotation sums up the book, really. It’s a blow-by-blow account of Lisa’s, plus colleagues Polly and Hinda’s invention and development of the sports bra in the 1970s and the subsequent ins and outs of the company they formed to take it to market in the 70s and 80s. Very much of their time, Lisa, at least, concentrates on being woman-centric and personal growth, where Hinda is more confrontational and competitive. This leads to what sounds like a horrible environment for both them and their eventual employees, with disagreements and shouting and an eventual grudging acceptance of their different ways of doing things (Polly gets bought out early on but is still a presence in Lisa’s life), which then fractures again when they sell the company.

It’s interesting on the growth of “jogging” in the US and the mechanics of setting up manufacturing and sales, but there are also a lot of musings on the nature of power and women’s personal growth. Lisa has lived with epilepsy her whole life and it’s fascinating to read her insights into how that has affected both her personal life and her business practices. We do get an update on what happened next, and it’s an interesting story to read. There are reproductions of adverts and business documentation in the middle of the book which add to it, and are now archived in the Smithsonian!

Thank you to BooksGoSocial for approving me to read this book via NetGalley and apologies for taking so long to do so. “Unleash the Girls” was published on 9 September 2019.