Unleash the Girls: The Untold Story of the Invention of the Sports Bra and How It Changed the World (And Me)
"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 2019 BookLife Prize Semifinalist
The 1970s saw women coming into their own, working hard to create new roles at home and in sports, culture, politics, and business. It was also the start of the “fitness revolution.” At this unique intersection of feminism and athleticism, Lisa Lindahl’s game-changing entrepreneurial journey began.
She invented the first sports bra, the “Jogbra,” in 1977. It was the right product at the right time, throwing Lisa into a high-stakes world of business and power—a world for which she was not fully prepared. Unleash the Girls is the improbable story of a young artist with a disability who used her powers of creativity to solve a vexing problem and ended up leveling the playing field for girls and women across the globe—literally, unleashing the girls.
Her invention would become a feminist icon and the company she founded would change an industry. But amid the success, Lisa continued to search for meaning and the true nature of power and beauty. This is the untold story of the invention of the sports bra and how it changed the world for girls and women...and, along the way, changed Lisa, too.
"... the author's narrative is as much an inspiring business memoir as it is an absorbing chronicle of a surprisingly significant piece of sports clothing. An engrossing account of the entrepreneur—and the bra—that changed women’s sports." —Kirkus Reviews
“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. Prior to its inception, the concept of women running, jumping, lifting, competing, basically moving dynamically, caused reticence. NOW, WE RUN AND MOVE in every athletic space and then some. To say I don’t think about my sports bra anymore is to say that I am FREE to accomplish and go after anything I want. I am EMPOWERED TO EMBRACE OPPORTUNITY!” —Brandi Chastain, American retired soccer player, two-time FIFA Women's World Cup champion, two-time Olympic gold-medalist, coach, and sports broadcaster
“The introduction of the sports bra did more than improve athletic performance. It represented a revolution in ready-to-wear clothing, and for many women athletes – past, present, and future – it actually made sports possible.” —Smithsonian Museum of American History Archivist Cathy Keen
Lisa Z. Lindahl is an artist, entrepreneur, and women's health advocate. She invented the sports bra in 1977, revolutionizing athletic participation for women and girls. In 2000, she patented a medical garment for use in breast cancer. She has a BS in education from the University of Vermont, a Master's of Arts in Culture and Spirituality from Holy Names University in California, and is a graduate of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies' Three Year Program of Advanced Initiations. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina, where it rarely goes below freezing and one can garden year 'round.