Lisa Z. Lindahl

Welcome to the online press kit for Lisa Z. Lindahl

The Woman Behind the Sports Bra

Lisa Z. Lindahl invented the sports bra out of personal necessity.
She had no idea it would become an iconic symbol of gender equality.

In 1972, the United States passed Title IX – a new law prohibiting discrimination in any federally funded education program on the basis of sex. By 1975, what was known as the “women’s liberation movement” had swept the country. Women were coming into their own, working hard to carve out new roles for themselves at home and in sports, culture, politics, and business.

The door opening for women to enjoy the same “playing fields” in life as men was one thing, but the physical reality of being on literal playing fields was still a challenge for many women – including Lisa Lindahl. Lisa was a runner, and she and other female athletes struggled with embarrassing and sometimes painful bouncing that limited their enjoyment of athletics.

No previous solution existed, so in 1977, Lisa invented the world’s first sports bra: the “Jogbra.” She created it to better enjoy her passion for running. She had no idea it would become an iconic representation of the effort to overcome gender barriers.

As Smithsonian Museum of American History archivist Cathy Keen said, “The introduction of the sports bra did more than improve athletes’ performances. It represented a revolution in ready-to-wear clothing, and for many women athletes – past present, and future – it actually made sports possible.”

The Book: “Unleash the Girls”

Lisa Z. Lindahl shares fresh insights about her creative journey and her invention’s worldwide impact in her new book:

“Unleash the Girls: The Untold Story of the Invention of the Sports Bra and How It Changed the World (& Me)” (September 2019)

What she initially thought might turn into a small mail-order business took off like wildfire across the country, throwing Lisa into the then mostly male world of business, of which she knew almost nothing. An artist, her formal business education consisted of a post-collegiate one-year program at the Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School. She couldn’t drive a car due to having epilepsy. She seemed an unlikely candidate to become a business success story and agent of change.

Yet, within the span of a decade, the sports bra would not only create the lucrative new athletic, ready-to-wear category that many women now turn to for daily fashion, it would literally “unleash the girls.” Together, the sports bra and Title IX proved to be the one-two punch that finally knocked out old attitudes about and restrictions for women.

This is the untold story of the invention of the sports bra and how it quite literally changed the world for girls and women – and, along the way, Lisa.

Download Lisa Z. Lindahl’s One Pager.

PRESS RELEASE Inventor of the Sports Bra Unveils New Book at BEA

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