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July 12, 2021

It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that the creation of the sports bra in 1977 changed the world. In 2019, Lindahl published Unleash the Girls, a memoir where, as the BookLife Prize said, “readers will be as fascinated by the history of the book’s subject as they are about Lindahl and her own personal and professional journey during a pivotal American era.”

Why did you choose to self-publish your memoir?

Control, choice, and relationship were the three deciding factors. I appreciate the degree of control—and therefore choice—that self-publishing affords. And I found excellent support in the relationships available to me through Bublish, the marketing and distribution firm I used.

When trying to recall events from decades past, how do you make sure you are telling “the truth”?

As I wrote in my first book, Beauty as Action: The Way of True Beauty and How Its Practice Can Change Our World (2017), the nature of “truth” is a complex one. In Unleash the Girls, I endeavored to share what was true for me, both at the time of the events and now, through the lens of time and perspective. And because I’ve always been a writer and kept a journal (I have boxes full of them dating back to the early 1970s), it was easy to refer to the actual events and review what I had written in the moment about what I was learning, feeling, and dealing with. These journals also made it easier to track down dates, names, and so on.

In 2020, you were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. What was that experience like?

Humbling. My invention of the sports bra was simply a response to my own need. I had no idea of the ripple effect that would attend its introduction into the world. And I do mean world. I hear from people all over the globe about the impact the sports bra has had on girls, women, and sports—indeed on the feminine psyche itself. It is one of the reasons I wrote Unleash the Girls. I felt the “rest of the story,” the whole story behind my Jogbra and the business that created the sports bra category, needed to be told. It’s a story of women and power, of ambition, and of the insecurities and strengths that drive us. It was never my conscious intent to have my idea, my bra, become a change agent (some say a feminist icon). Now, to be enshrined in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, with the likes of Thomas Edison and Walt Disney, is indeed a surprise and humbling.

Do you think the athletic community still has work to do in regard to the inclusion of women?

There have been significant improvements in both attitudes about and institutional support of women’s sports since Title IX in 1972 and the invention of the sports bra in 1977. Included in Unleash are statistics that show the tremendous rise of women’s and girls’ participation in sports. But of course, there is still work to do.

What is the one thing you most want to tell readers, booksellers, or agents about you or your book?

That I am a person with epilepsy and a visual artist as well as an author, and that both of those facts informed not just the invention of the sports bra but also its story and how it unfolded. The one thing I most want to tell readers—really, everyone—is that this is not simply a business memoir. Unleash the Girls is the story of young women struggling to become themselves, to grow up and through (or despite) betrayals, power struggles, ambition, stigma, and stereotyping. It’s about the universal decision to avoid or confront the edges of one’s personal comfort zone.