May 9, 2019

Nurse Who Ran Marathon In Scrubs Was Denied Guinness Record For Not Wearing A Dress

Nurse Who Ran Marathon In Scrubs Was Denied Guinness Record For Not Wearing A Dress

By Chaunie Brusie

Nurse Jessica Anderson has changed the world. No, really. 

Back in April, Anderson broke the current world record in the category for “wearing a nurse’s uniform” in the London Marathon, clocking in at 3:08:22 to beat the previous record of 3:08:54. Not only did she nab a world-record spot, but she did it in a pair of scrubs, wearing the actual work uniform she dons during her shifts as a nurse in the Acute Admissions Unit at the Royal London Hospital, where she has been employed for the past seven years. 

And of course, because nurses can do it all, Anderson ran in scrubs, broke a world record, and managed to raise over £5000 for her cause, Barts Charity. Guinness World Records, however, had other ideas and stripped Anderson of her world record title. Why? Well, because she was wearing scrubs instead of a “traditional” nurse’s uniform. 

What Makes a Nurse According To Guinness’ Previous Rules

In an Instagram post back in February, Anderson explained that she had contacted Guinness to apply to run the race while wearing scrubs as her uniform rather than the “traditional” nurses’ uniform that they required. And if you’re wondering what qualified as a “traditional” nurse’s uniform, think every awful stereotypical “sexy” or “hideous” Halloween nurse’s costume you have ever seen. MAJOR #eyeroll. 

Image via Instagram 

The agency, however, declined her application and said that scrubs (somehow?) did not meet the definition for a nurse’s uniform—but that did not deter Anderson. She vowed to run anyways and break the record. 

Which, of course, she did. But she didn’t expect what would come next: instead of acknowledging her win or praising her for her scrub-clad awesomeness, Guinness World Records denied Anderson the world record title. Understandably disappointed, Anderson told Runner’s World that she was “taken quite taken aback” by the organization’s decision. 

“…I did email them to ask them to reconsider but they said no,” she told the mag. “I get that it’s supposed to be a fun thing but their definition is just so outdated. Some of the nurses I work with do wear dresses but mostly we wear scrubs or a tunic and trousers. I’ve certainly never seen a male nurse wearing a dress to work."

She told the BBC that Guinness responded with an email describing the “appropriate” nurse’s uniform to wear in a race, 

“The nurse’s uniform must include a blue or white nurse dress, a white pinafore apron, a traditional white nurse’s cap” the email from Guinness World Records reads. They went on to state that the scrub costume was very similar to a doctor’s uniform and it was important to differentiate between the two professions. 

We imagine something like this would have been more appropriate for Jessica to run in ...according to Guinness. 

Nurses Supporting Their Own

As you can imagine, the organization’s decision to redact Anderson’s title solely based on her scrub attire did not go over so well with um, anyone. Nurses and fans everywhere expressed outrage that the organization would strip a well-deserving runner of her record and promote an outdated dress code rooted in historical sexism. 

“As a member of a group who earned and broke two New World Records with my fellow IHS alumni in 2018, I'm ashamed to see that the Guinness World Records holds to such outdated standards,” wrote one disgusted commenter in response. “I challenge this organization to set a better example for the Next Generation strong women and our future leaders. I strongly urge you to honor this nurse's accomplishment and leave the sexism in the past where it belongs.”

In support of Anderson, who shared her own photo of her world-record winning run in her scrubs, nurses shared their own images wearing their real work uniforms with the hashtag #WhatNursesWear

Soldiers posted pics of themselves in full uniform, pointing out, sarcastically, that dresses may not be the most practical choice for them to do their jobs. “I save no matter the uniform I'm wearing,” wrote another proud nurse. “On duty or day off. I'm a proud professional nurse.#whatnurseswear” 

Changing the Rules and the Record at Guinness World Records 

Thankfully, for everyone involved, the official people that make Guinness World Records had a change of heart and released a press statement on Monday, May 7th, explaining that they had changed their position and would be acknowledging Anderson’s title: 

“Over the weekend it has become quite clear to Guinness World Records that our guidelines for the fastest marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform was outdated, incorrect and reflected a stereotype we do not in any way wish to perpetuate,” the statement reads. “Having received the official timings from London Marathon this morning we are pleased to award Jessica with the Guinness World Records title for the fastest marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform for her attempt on Sunday 28 April (3 hours, 8 minutes and 22 seconds), and have notified her as such.

"I want to take this opportunity to reassure everybody concerned that Guinness World Records is absolutely committed to ensuring we uphold the highest standards of equality and inclusiveness. Therefore, we unreservedly apologize and accept full responsibility for the mishandling of Jessica Anderson’s application.”  

Additionally, the powers-that-be also vowed to update their guidelines to actually reflect the real work uniforms worn by nurses in the UK and around the world.

Anderson’s story is proof of several things, including 

1) nurses are literal game-changers 

2) scrubs are so awesome, you can save lives or run marathons in them. 

Image via Instagram 

And if you ask us, Anderson always held the record in our books. Because as the saying goes, a nurse is a nurse, no matter what she or he wears. 

Or something like that.

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