by Hannah M.
Women’s equality in sport has come a long way in recent years. We are beginning to recognize women as athletes who are strong and competitive. We are seeing women’s sport on television more than ever before and recognizing their athletic ability. This may be true, but why do women still feel the need to sell sexiness? Can’t women just be good at their sport and not need to be concerned about their physical appearances?
In class we viewed a video that analyzed this issue in more detail. The video points out that the women who are most successful in sport, tend to be very beautiful as well. If you were to flip through a sports magazine, you will find many of the women athletes in revealing clothing, if they are wearing clothing at all. The double standard placed on women athletes to be both good at their sport and sell their beauty is very evident in the media. It is rare to see an elite female athlete who can get the sponsorship she needs just by being good at sport.
In the article “Medals aren’t enough: Women Olympians still have to sell sexiness” by TIME magazine, we read that women athletes have this immense pressure during the Olympics to get the sponsorship needed for their training. According to Keven Adler, there is a very evident double standard for women athletes. He says in the article that “For male athletes, it’s primarily about their performance. And for female athletes it’s definitely as much about their looks as it is about their performance.” The article continues to demonstrate this double standard by pointing out that women in all sports feel this pressure. For instance, there are makeup seminars for rookie WNBA players to ensure that these women get the sponsorship they need to play. We never expect a man to spend hours before a game applying hair gel and covering blemishes just to get proper sponsorship. We rely on their athletic ability and talent.
Another article from the 2012 summer Olympics talked about women’s beach volleyball, and the bikini issue. There was controversy initially about whether the women should wear more due to the colder weather, but it was decided that they would wear their usual bikini attire. The athletes were okay with this decision, many saying that is how they are most comfortable when playing. The major issue came up during the games when the media coverage of the event became nearly all about the bikinis instead of the women who play it. They focused on the way these women looked in the bikinis, publishing articles like “Olympic Beach Volleyball: Great Bodies, Bikinis and More”, forgetting to really cover the actual sport itself.
The campaign “Strong is the new sexy” has a great idea behind it. It’s empowering women to be strong and muscular, not worrying about having a muscular body. In the past, a muscular body was stereotypically a male ideal. This campaign has changed the minds of women to see strong as sexy and healthy. My issue with the campaign is pictures like the following:
Why can’t we just see a strong woman wearing more reasonable gym clothes? I understand that “its the new sexy” but this photo really takes away from the campaign in my mind. It’s not just showing her strength, it’s showing a lot more than that.