An Inspiring and Timely Memoir by the Inventor of the Sports Bra

Indie Voices Blog

It was the 1970s, the start of the “women’s liberation movement.” Change was sweeping the country. The shift was so profound Time magazine awarded its 1975 “Man of the Year” cover to “American Women.” Only two years earlier, tennis star Billy Jean King had captivated the nation’s attention when she beat Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” on the tennis court. The passage of Title IX, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program, had begun to open doors for young, athletic females. Women were coming into their own, working hard to carve out new roles for themselves at home, in sports, culture, politics, and business.

At the same time, Americans were getting up off the couch to join the “fitness revolution.” Jogging was all the rage. An estimated 25 million Americans took up running in the ’70s and ’80s. It’s at this unique intersection of feminism and athleticism that Lisa Lindahl’s story begins.

In 1977, Lindahl invented the world’s first sports bra, called the jogbra, to address her own discomfort while running. She was an unlikely entrepreneur, and had no idea that her invention would complete what Title IX had started and finally level the playing field for female athletes and athletic women around the world. The sports bra turned out to be the one-two punch that knocked out old attitudes and restrictions. You might even say it “unleashed the girls.”

As Brandi Chastain, two-time FIFA Women's World Cup soccer champion and two-time Olympic gold-medalist said, “The sports bra was and is more than a piece of sporting equipment, it has become a symbol and a vehicle for women and girls to propel themselves forward without inhibition towards the future that they are creating.”

Unleash the Girls is the improbable and inspiring story of a young artist with Epilepsy who overcame the odds, changed the world, and in so doing altered the course of her life.

 Unleash the Girls


A 2019 Publisher’s Weekly BookLife Prize Semi Finalist

“With cogent reflections on American cultural history and the shifts that laid the groundwork for women’s liberation, Lindahl weaves a narrative that is both intimate and topical....[A]n inspiring narrative about changing the world through fearless innovation.” —Publisher's Weekly, BookLife Prize

“I loved this book...The author's voice is witty, smart and deliciously sassy. I didn't want to put it down.” —reader review 

“...reading the book is like having a great cup of coffee with your smartest, most interesting friend. I highly recommend this book for both men and women.” —reader review 


Author Lisa Lindahl

Lisa Lindahl is an American writer, artist, activist, and inventor. She is credited as the inventor of the world’s first sports bra, along with costume designer Polly Smith and Smith’s assistant, Hinda Schreiber. She was an Entrepreneur of the Year nominee in Inc. Magazine in 1990. Linda has also been acknowledged for her many contributions the Epilepsy Foundation, where she has volunteered as a teacher, advocate and fundraiser. In later years, Lindahl joined with Dr. Lesli Bell to create the Compression Comfort Bra to help breast cancer patients overcome the pain and discomfort associated with their treatment procedures. Born in Montclair, New Jersey, she traveled to University of Vermont to complete her undergraduate degree and later completed her master’s degree in culture and spirituality at Holy Names University in California. She currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina. In 2020, Lindahl was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.