I attended a running event organised by Puma to launch their new shoe on Saturday. Six running groups from across Delhi NCR started running simultaneously through different parts of Delhi and finished at India Habitat Centre for the launch and breakfast. The concept was great but the execution (of the run) not so much. Dilliwaalas swear by the breakfast served at IHC and now I know why. After harassing the photographers for millions of group pics, the runners started chit chatting about the next event they are training for. That’s when the Puma Ambassador, Lisa Hayden, walked in. The place went abuzz, but the buzz was a bit different than it is when you see a stunningly beautiful woman. Now, she is tall and a very pretty woman but honestly Delhi has no dearth of such good looking girls and great bodies. There were remarks, jokes, mostly mean and nasty, and some light-hearted ones too – simply because she had chosen to not wear anything underneath her dri-fit tee. She was on the stage and had managed to get pretty much everyone’s attention which was previously focused solely on breakfast and inconsequential conversations.

In a lot of countries in Europe, it is normal to go bra-less but in our “culture”, not at all. So, there was lots going on – ogling, excitement, awkwardness, jealousy (for her guts), and even some admiration and awe. A runner was heard saying “It’s a bit embarrassing as we are not used to it!” In hindsight, I wonder how does it matter if she chose to not wear a bra? We are oh-so-cool about Milind Soman running topless then why were we condescending about her choice? We talk about his running credentials and how hot he looks for his age. However, hardly anyone was talking about Lisa Hayden’s kickass 4:06 full marathon in 2013.

As a woman I’m ashamed of participating in those jokes about her. She might have wanted to make a statement. She may have taken it off as she was uncomfortable in the wet sports bra after running a very fast 10K (ask any woman and she’ll tell you how she craves to do the same!). She may have done it to seek attention. Whatever her reasons might be, we are no one to judge her. She looked very comfortable and chilled out in her own skin.

I’m always for women’s freedom of choices and it breaks my heart to think that I was grossly contradicting myself by participating in the insensitive humour.  As per my part, I will make sure that I’m never judgemental about another woman no matter how far out of my comfort zone she might be. And I hope we will all do the same.