By Reilly Starr
In my senior year of high school, I was ranked 23rd in the US for the Pentathlon – high jump, long jump, hurdles, 800 meter run, and shot put. I also excelled at volleyball and was able to jump higher than most girls, which I loved. But the same strong thighs that helped me achieve these accolades also beckoned comments like: “You’re going to regret lifting that much when you’re older,” or “Your thighs are thicker than mine.” (That one was from a male teammate on the track team.)
Beauty is a complicated and sensitive topic, especially when it comes to female athletes.
When I was 4 years old, I started modeling for an agency now known as Modelogic Wilhelmina. My father was handpicked to model when he was a young man and continued well into his 40s. It was very convenient for the agency to pitch us as a family, and thus my brother’s first modeling job was when he was a few months old. Modeling was a very positive experience for me, and infused positives in my life that one doesn’t usually associate with child modeling, like time management, financial independence, and confidence. It also afforded me my first computer and my first car, which still makes me proud.
By the time high school rolled around, modeling was a constant flow of income for me. This is also the time that I started to focus on sports. For a brief period of time, during my aggressive growth spurt (2 inches in a summer!), I was that petite female who was very strong yet still slender. But as I started to lift more and aspire to collegiate sports, I started to “outgrow” modeling. I’ll never forget — After my first season of collegiate volleyball, a well-known agency near school suggested that I lose two inches off each thigh. My modeling career was essentially over. (Keep in mind, this was almost 15 years ago, and Lululemon had not yet created a market for fashionable fitness modeling.)
Standing at the crossroads of athlete and model pinched my ego… for a hot second. I quickly realized that the physical, mental, and social gratification I get from athletics is priceless. So I decided to do something about it.
Two years ago, Naked Sports Gear was born, a brand for what I like to call the femme jock. (Naming credit goes to Marney Reid from Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling.) The femme jock is a modern day athlete: she is passionate about playing sports, keeping in shape, and looking attractive – and I leave it to each woman that reads this to define her version of attractive. All of Naked’s tanks and sports bras are comfortable, bright, and tan-through.
When choosing models for Naked Sports Gear we were adamant about choosing women that screamed “real.” We wanted women that embodied the look of their passions. We are so proud of our athletic friends that volunteered to be our first Naked models. In the midst of an unusually snowy November, our models revealed their beautiful curvaceous muscles! Within our roster of “models,” we now claim an aerialist, two fitness gurus, two volleyball players, two runners, and other athletic females.
I also cofounded AllStarr Volleyball, a juniors volleyball club, which grew beyond my expectations — partly because of my vision for young women, partly because of the talented coaches and staff — but also because sports are now popular with young girls! In fact, research shows that girls that play sports have higher rates of graduation, more success in their careers, and most importantly, a high level of confidence.
Let that be the new standard of beauty.
Reilly Starr is the Co-Founder & CEO of Naked Sports Gear. She is also an all-around jock, serial entrepreneur, and social media addict. She played Varsity Women’s Volleyball in college for George Washington University, and presently plays on club volleyball teams all over the New York/ New Jersey area. Professionally, Reilly has managed social media, communications, and public relations for internationally recognized brands such as IBM and Mitsubishi, and some of the largest law firms in the world. Additionally, Reilly is also the co-founder of AllStarr Volleyball, a 501(c)3 organization that offers competitive volleyball opportunities to youth in New York City.