“Sorry, Not Sorry”: Analyzing Female Apologetic Behaviour in Women’s Sport

by Megan C.

Femininity can be defined as a socially constructed concept that states how women should look, act, and what they should value (Hardy, 2015). Hegemonic femininity is the sociologically “correct” version of women, which includes white, heterosexual, and middle-to-high class women. Additionally, hegemonic femininity is defined by traits such as “submissiveness, dependency, concern over physical appearance and emotional ability” (Hardy, 2015, p. 155).

“The social construction of sport [is] a space where hegemonic masculinity is defined, … and sport participation [is] associated with masculine traits, such as aggression, strength, power, dominance, and violence” (Hardy, 2015, p. 155). Therefore, women who participate in sport, specifically male-dominated sport, are often labelled with masculine traits and their sexuality is questioned. Female apologetic behaviour, in sport, exists to combat the masculine and lesbian stereotypes associated with female sport participation. Female apologetic behaviour is when female athletes ‘apologize’ for participating in sport by overemphasizing their femininity through clothing choice, physical appearance, self-expression, and style of athletic play.

The media plays an important role in continuing the trend of female apologetic behaviour in sport, specifically elite level sport, because increased media exposure and sponsorships are given to female athletes who conform to society’s idealized version of hegemonic femininity. “Emphasizing femininity reinforces females’ inferior status to males’ … and ensures that they remain desirable to men” (Hardy, 2015, p. 156). This is demonstrated through the media’s portrayal and sexualisation of female Olympic beach volleyball athletes. The women’s Olympic beach volleyball uniform and television coverage of the sport places a priority on the sexualisation and physical appeal of the athletes and the sport, over the comfort and skill level of the athletes, by focusing on the athletes’ body and not the sport. This demonstrates that being stereotypically ‘attractive’ should be more important to athletes than excelling in their sport, because that is the focal point of the broadcasting.

Female athletes “are always framed by their status as both athletes and women” (Hardy, 2015, p. 156). Furthermore, men can succeed and be publicly recognized as ‘just an athlete’, while women cannot solely have an athletic identity, it must be overshadowed by either their physical appearance or caregiving abilities. For example, the Olympic gold medalist curler, Jennifer Jones’, is the skip, a dominant and authoritative position within the sport of curling. However, when portrayed by the media and in commercials the focus is directed towards her nurturing and providing roles as a wife and a mother, not her success as an athlete, which gives the illusion her athletic accomplishments are not valid and not good enough. This may be harmful, particularly to young females, as it demonstrates that girl’s/women’s athletic dreams and ambitions do not matter, because being a wife and a mom should be the primary focus in your life, your main role, and what you will be known for.

These examples demonstrate that “women are still confined to two acceptable roles, sex object or mother, both of which trivialize their athletic abilities and inherent value” (Hardy, 2015, p. 157). Advancing women’s sport today proves to be a vicious cycle; increasing media exposure, sponsorships, and viewers seems to only be possible when female athletes degrade themselves and their sport, and focus on their sexuality and the physical appeal of their sport. Thus, the importance of female athletes such as Serena Williams who pushes boundaries and demonstrates that women do not need to limit themselves to be ‘approved’ by society; women can be strong, muscular, beautiful, and successful, all at once. And Lanni Marchant who is advocating for female body image in sport, by combatting the issue that female athletes’ appearance and uniforms attract more attention than their performances.

Female apologetic behaviour is more visible in elite level sport because of commercialization and media portrayal. However, this behaviour exists in all levels of sport. Therefore, it is important for coaches and parents to emphasize the importance of physical performance and not physical appearance in young athletes. This can be achieved by selecting athletes based on their talent and not physical appearance, which is particularly important in aesthetic sports. Furthermore, coaches should allow athletes complete control over their body’s and their choice of uniform (when possible), providing it fits within the guidelines and regulations of the sport.

We cannot alter the focal point ‘sex sells’ portrayed by the media industry, however, we can choose where our money goes. We select what products we buy and what we watch both live and on television. It is important to think critically and use your voice as a consumer, to give hope for upcoming generations of female athletes that their dreams are valid, and that talent and hard work is enough to be successful.

References:

Hardy, E. (2015). The female ‘apologetic’ behavior within Canadian women’s rugby: athlete perceptions and media influences. Sport in Society, 18(2), 155-167. doi: 10.1080/17430437.2013.854515

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Female Athleticism: A Cause for Celebration

by Amanda K.

The women’s rights movement dates back to 1884 when a group of women gathered together to fight for the equality of women. Since then, women have made great strides towards equal opportunities for females around the world. Girls growing up in today’s society are experiencing a very different world compared to women who were born in the 1800’s. While the movement has brought great change to the world, women are still fighting against injustices they face on a daily basis. Although women are able to vote and be seen outside the home, they are still viewed as the inferior sex, especially in the sporting arena. Although women are able to participate in sport which wasn’t always the case, they are paid less and as a result are given less opportunities to pursue professional careers in sport. Because of the inequalities between male and female sports, females in sports are not taken as serious as competitive male athletes; basically, they viewed as less feminine women.

On average, in professional sports, women are paid only 77% of professional male athlete’s salaries. Although this percentage varies among sports, it is consistent that males are paid higher salaries. Due to lower salaries, in order to support a comfortable lifestyle female athletes must find other sources of income to make ends meet. For some female athletes this means sexualizing their bodies by posing naked in order to make extra money on the side. Although posing naked has received negative opinion of the general population, posing naked not only benefits the wallet of the athlete, but has created a movement to accept female athletes and their body image.  Amongst these females are Gabriele Reece; a professional volleyball player who posed for playboy in 2001, Hope Solo; a professional soccer player who posed for ESPN in 2013, and Lolo Jones; Olympic track and field athlete who posed semi-nude for ESPN in 2009.

Women participating in sport challenge the image of femininity. According to the definition of femininity, females are supposed to seemingly have feminine qualities at first glance. This means having petite bodies, smelling nice, and ultimately being weak. Females who participate at the highest level of sport spend hours in the gym to build muscle in order to compete against the best athletes in the world. As a result, female athletes are considered less feminine due to their large muscles and aggressive behaviour while playing sports. Since female athletes don’t traditionally fit the feminine role they are stereotyped as “butch” or “lesbian”. Female athletes posing naked sends a message to the public demonstrating that the female athletic body type is nothing to be ashamed of but instead something to celebrate. I think this message is very important to portray to young female athlete growing up with body image issues.

Personally, growing up an elite athlete I always struggled with body image. While all my friends were very petite, I had large thighs as a result of playing soccer and figure skating. I was always self-conscious wearing shorts or finding the right pair of jeans that fit my thighs properly as well as my waist. Over the years’ companies such as Nike have brought attention to this issue with their “real women” campaign that highlights the acceptance of having big thighs, shoulders, etc. This campaign was a pivotal for me and allowed me to finally begin to accept my athletic body type instead of being ashamed of it.  Instead of trying to hide my muscles it became a cause for celebration. I think it so important for female athletes to continue to empower young female athletes in this sense to increase the acceptance of females in sport. Growing up, I wish there were more female athletes who stood for what these campaigns are standing for. As a result, females will be able to further themselves in sport and bring more positive attention to female sports.

 

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenstimeline1.html

http://www.adwomen.org/2011/06/controversial-nikes-campaign-for-women/

Fatherhood and Sport: Providing an Opportunity to Redefine Fatherhood

By Kirstin D.

To offer some diversity to the new blog posts being made, I am going to discuss fatherhood and sport. As a female, this will be done by looking at the evidence in articles since I do not have a direct experience of being a father or male. My reflection is influenced by knowledge and my indirect experience of the males in my life. The first male role model who participated in influenced my participation in sport, was my father. To provide background knowledge I grew up with three older sisters and both of my parents worked outside the home and had sport interests. The new generation of fathers are reacting to the changes in the household. Mothers are choosing to work or stay at home, and more pressure is being put on fathers to reach beyond the traditional fatherhood model. Contemporary fathers are looking for ways to connect with their children. Leisure is a tool some have used to do so, but they are not free from the pressure from the traditional fatherhood ideologies.

Now, we might think a stereotype of fatherhood is a father who coaches his child’s sports team. What if we thought of it instead as a means to be more than the breadwinner, as a way to redefine fatherhood. Kay (2007) discussed that since sports are familiar to men, which makes sport a secure and comfortable site that men can gain competence in engaging with their children. As we know men are socialized differently than women. From a young age girls are given toy babies and boys are given Tonka Trunks. The nuclear family and traditional fatherhood roles could leave new fathers feeling incompetent. Similar to sport participation, confidence and competence helps improve participation rates. Fathers who want to be more than the provider, could be using sport (a familiar role) as way to get closer with their children. Sport is a setting that is deemed appropriate for men in society. Therefore, sport provides them the opportunity to redefine fatherhood.

My experience with my father reflects this idea. Sport was a topic he could relate to and was a topic that he enjoyed. It was a way for him to be connected to us, when he felt like he was unable to otherwise. Although my father and my mother both worked and were invested in our sporting pursuits, it was different with my father. Not only is this a way for fathers to be able to connect with their children, but it is also a way for children to connect with their fathers. My oldest sister was the only one who decided to play hockey, and one of her primary reasons for doing so was to become closer with my father.

I do disagree with Kay (2007) when they write that fatherhood is universal and we all have been fathered. Perhaps this shows that the article is dated and that even in academic articles there are heteronormative assumptions made. It is true that all new born babies have biological fathers. It is, however, not true that we have all been fathered. Fathers come in various shapes and sizes, some are involved and others are not. Some of us may not have had a father and some people might have two. Although we cannot say that using sport as a means to redefine fatherhood is universal, I do believe that this is an important perspective.

If you would like to contribute to this blog post, I am interested in hearing your thoughts about fatherhood and sport – which does not have to be specifically fathers who are coaches, it could be broader leisure pursuits. My father never coached any of my sports teams, but he still had an influence and an impact on them. I still remember being on the pitch and hearing him whistle and holler as a dedicated spectator.

References

Kay, T. (2007). Fathering through Sport. World Leisure Journal, 49(2), 69-82.

“Equal pay is as much a myth as it is a minefield” – Why is equal pay in Tennis such an issue in our modern day society?

By Callum F.

Equal pay in general has been an issue for years, and it will most likely still be an ongoing debate for many more due to the current political environment. However, equal pay in sport is also a big issue that is being pushed more and more to the fore, with tennis being the ‘leading light’ in this situation.

For years, influential female tennis players such as Billy Jean King, Chris Evert and Serena Williams have made claims that women are entitled to just as much prize money as the men are, as they are playing the same sport, and doing exactly the same thing, and in the four Grand Slams at least, at the same tournament time. Therefore, equal pay surely makes perfect sense. Serena Williams is just as capable as Roger Federer at hitting a ball over a net, so why is it such an issue? 

The main problems preventing equal pay are revenue, media exposure and the inter-relationship between them and the limitations surrounding them. Godoy-Pressland and Griggs (2014) argue that; ‘The relative exclusion of women’s sport in the media serves to frame women’s sport as less important than men’s’. Media exposure and the perception that creates drives popularity which drives revenue and thus this relative exclusion then results in women’s sport’s inability to earn equal revenue, both from tickets – numbers and prices – and from sponsorships, as men’s sport and therefore pay equal amounts to the competitors. If the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) paid equal prize money as the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) across 12 months, they would be bankrupt within a couple of years, simply due to the relative lack of revenue that the WTA brings in from advertising, sponsorship and the media compared to the ATP. As well as the higher profile that the men’s game has traditionally enjoyed over the women’s, there is also a much higher level of competition at the top of the  men’s game, contesting titles and the top ranking places, than in the women’s. This also drives the level of income generated.  Sport has become more of a business than ever before, so the income/expenditure ratio is key and currently, the men’s game is far more valuable than the women’s, so higher levels of expenditure are possible meaning ultimately that the men get paid more. 

While this argument has been going since the 1960’s, it has become one of the biggest topics in tennis, even more so in the past couple of years. Raymond Moore, (former CEO of the tournament Indian Wells) was the man to instigate this recent debate, when he was quoted as saying ‘If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born because they have carried this sport.’ and how ‘the women ride off the coattails of men’ . While both remarks were wildly inappropriate and resulted in Moore’s immediate resignation, it sparked a large debate amongst the players themselves, something which hadn’t been seen since the 60’s. 

The majority of the top male players were all in agreement that the women should receive equal pay, simply because they do the same job. Sir Andy Murray was one of these, openly stating that he was a feminist and fully supported equal pay. However, his long term rival Novak Djokovic voiced that women shouldn’t be paid as much due to the revenue income. This in itself sparked another debate, why does the male’s opinion on this matter so much? Surely the women’s arguments should be heard more, as they are in fact women! 

Sherry (2015) writes that ‘Women’s sport continues to be viewed through the prism of male hegemony in various ways’. The fact that it is taking the men’s opinion on the tour to start making a difference supports Sherry strongly. Why does it still take a male opinion to cause a debate, especially in the ‘modernised society’ that we live in. It points towards a case that the male opinion in sport, and seemingly business is still more important than the women’s, but perversely it may be that very opinion that will finally get women equal pay in tennis.

To conclude, equal pay in tennis has to become a reality sooner rather than later, as there is no strong argument as to why it should not happen. Both bring in the spectators, and both bring in millions of dollars in revenue, so why shouldn’t it be shared equally? While it is realistic in theory, the reality of the situation is that equal pay will not happen unless the ‘sport’ of Tennis becomes less of a business, focusing on how much money can be made and where, and simply reverts to being a sport to entertain. Until that happens, the argument surrounding equal pay will become even more ridiculous and further out-dated. 

Sherry, E., Osborne, A., & Nicholson, M. (2015). Images of Sports Women: A Review. Sex Roles, 15.

Godoy-Pressland, A., & Griggs, G. (2014). The photographic representation of female athletes in the British print media during the London 2012 Olympic games. Sport in Society, 17, 1–16

Where are all of the Professional Female Athletes

by Danielle H.

When I was a child, I dreamt about being the next Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. They were amazing athletes. I remember my dad and I watching their games and talking about what an amazing life they must have. As a child, I never imagined that my gender would ever put a damper on that dream. As I got older, I started wondering why there was a lack of female athletes on television. It was not until my friend’s parents’ denied her the opportunity to play sports in high school that I realized what was going on in the world around me. My friend’s parents’ told her she needed to focus on her grades, and that sports got females nowhere in life. This made me think about how the only female professional athlete that I knew about was Hailey Wickenheiser, and that was only because she was promoted in New Brunswick schools when I was younger.

It occurred to me that the sporting world is dominated by males. In fact, in a recent article I read, they stated that “sport is a male-dominated institution that promotes traditional gender roles and advances male hegemony” (Hannon, Soohoo, Reel, & Ratliffe, 2009). As a society, we allow sports to be centred around males. For example, sports such as baseball and softball segregate men and women, as it is viewed as more appropriate for males to play baseball and females to play softball. Certain sports, like hockey, even have rules that state men are allow to play with contact and females are not.

In another recent article I read, it discussed the Grand Slam tournament in tennis. The Grand Slam Tournament has an equal amount of male and female athletes competing. Everyone participates in the tournament, and every athlete is paid by the same employer. However, the male athletes are still paid more than the females (Kahn, 1991).

As I mentioned before, my friend was not allowed to play sports in high school as her parents told her that her grades were more important. If I had to guess, she is definitely not the only girl who has been told that. I don’t understand how that is fair. We have multiple sporting leagues for males, and not as many for females. As a male athlete, you do not necessarily have to play professionally in order to make money. Males have opportunities to play below the professional level, and still get paid. What I am getting at is that females have a considerably smaller chance to make it to the professional level, because there are limited spots for female athletes. Also, it is known that female athletes generally make less money. With the female sport world being what it is, it is understandable why girls do not pursue sports in the same way as boys do.

References:

Hannon, J., Soohoo, S., Reel, J., & Ratliffe, T. (2009). Gender stereotyping and the influence of race in sport among adolescents. Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 80(3), 676-684.

Kahn, L. M. (1991). Discrimination in professional sports: A survey of the literature. ILR Review, 44(3), 395-418.

Gender Inequality: A Sports Media Perspective on Sports Media

By Meghan O.

Sports are highly valued in the world we live in. In 2014, Forbes claimed that the North American sports industry made over 60 billion dollars and projected it to climb to 73 billion by 2019. This money is made through sports merchandising, sponsors and media coverage. These industries include the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL, all of which are  dominated by a common factor: men. Sports coverage in the media is mainly centered around men rather than women’s participation. This perpetuates the traditional notion that men are strong, athletic and women are not. Studies have shown that females are more likely than males to stop participating in sports as teenagers (Kjartan, 2016). To at least some extent, this can be attributed to the absence of women as role models in sports media. With this being the case, young females are missing out on well-known benefits associated with sports participation: higher self-esteem, positive body image and lower levels of anxiety (Slater et al., 2011).

From my own observations of the media,  the exposure of female athletes in the media improves during events like the Olympic Games and World Cup Soccer. However, these events do not lead to continuous long-term exposure for female athletes. Even with the increased coverage during these times, broadcasters will target women’s appearances or even worse, their male partners. This needs to be improved on by TV companies by taking responsibility for the importance of women’s coverage. These companies should have policies in place to inform their employees of the implications of focusing on only these aspects of women. By overshadowing a woman’s athletic performance with what they are wearing or what hair accessories they are using, it gives the idea that no matter how successful their performance, they are only as good as their outfit. It seems as though no matter how well women perform and provide that “entertainment value”, the media continues to refuse to give them more air time. Male athletes continue to take up most of that time on in sports media. And it would be absurd if anyone were to comment on a male athletes outfit!

Another way to improve women’s representation in sports media is through commercials and sponsorship. There has been some progress in this area, but commercials aired with sports media still remain mainly male. This gives young males role models to look up to and aspire to be like. If young girls had the same amount of athlete role models, they could potentially be more interested in sport and consequently reap its benefits. There are also more ways people working directly in sports media need to improve. TV companies should be focused on supporting both men and women’s participation. It is, however, clear that this media has one thing in interest: money. These companies believe that they are providing for their audience by airing mainly male sporting events. I strongly believe this is a huge mistake. By not providing for the women who do have an interest in watching women’s sport leagues, they are missing out on money that could be made from this kind of coverage. If these TV companies produced a “sister” company for women’s sport coverage, it would benefit them financially, but it would also make strides to positively impact young girls.

References:

Ólafsson, K. (2006) Sports, media and stereotypes – Women and men in sports and media. Akureyri, Centre for Gender Equality.

Lopiano, D. A. (2008). Media coverage of women’s sport is important. Sport Management Resources. N.p., 2008. Web. 22

Slater, A., & Tigerrmann, M. (2011).  Gender differences in adolescent sport participation, teasing, self-objectification and body image concerns.” Journal of Adolescence 34(3), 455-463.

Lamoureux, A. (2012). How the media portrays female athletes. Retrieved from:  https://aimeelamoureux.wordpress.com/

Heitner, D. (2015). Sports industry to reach $73.5 billion by 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/darrenheitner/2015/10/19/sports-industry-to-reach-73-5-billion-by-2019/#6ea3e9ce1585

I Will What I Want Campaign: “You don’t need permission when you have will”.

By Meghan Stultz (M.S.)

“Women’s apparel some day will be larger than our men’s apparel business, which is our goal,” predicted Kevin A. Plank, a former college football player who founded Under Armour 14 years ago.

For the past few years Under Armour has been on an upward journey to become one of the major name for athletic clothing companies, however they have never had as big of a success in the women’s department as they have in the men’s…but that gap is closing.

When reflecting on the company’s first attempts to go after the growing women’s athletics and leisure market in the early 2000’s, Kevin Plank commented his team’s best attempt to go after the market was to take their male clothing and “shrink it and pink it.”

After the release of their women’s pastel coloured workout clothing line was a total failure the company went back to the drawing board and came back big in the advertising world with “I Will What I Want” women’s campaign. This $15 million dollar campaign has been a hugely successful investment leading them to be named 2014 Marketer of the Year by Ad Age and recently complete their 18th consecutive quarter with more than a 20% sales growth.

So how did they change how advertisers are representing females in their ads – while keeping their advertising costs at a 1/3 compared to Nikes?

They did it by simply showing real and raw women in their element

Their digital ad’s feature emotional storytelling, that speaks to the mind and the heart simultaneously. It is relatable

The first campaign showed in late summer, Misty Copeland, currently a soloist star for the American Ballet Theatre. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY0cdXr_1MA).

Misty’s Ad now has a staggering 7.6 million views on YouTube – It shows the traditional ballerina in a nontraditional way. The angles of the camera emphasis her strength in her moves – while she is wearing Under Armour apparel instead of the traditional ballerina staple, the tutu. Tied along with a narration of a rejection letter she received at the age of only 13, which pointed out all the parts of her body that are so “clearly” wrong for ballet.

The second Ad to be surfaced featured supermodel Gisele Bundchen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-V7cOestUs). Gisele is seen training with a punching bag – but this time the narration is plastered all over the walls with a live feed of social media posts. Some positive posts but mostly negative comments like “she’s not an athlete, stick to modeling sweetie or she is a has-been.”

As a female with an athletic background I think these campaigns are so powerful because it relates back to how we’ve all dealt with negativity and adversity throughout life, be it in a sport or on a social media platform.

The way Under Armour presents these advertisements with the narration reinforcing success can overcome failure creates an emotional connection for their audience to their message, ultimately making it stronger.

I was happy to have stumbled upon this video, which gives a great summary from the creators and where you can see the companies authenticity shine through – (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqTl7C2LTFQ)

When commenting to Advertising Age, Senior VP, Ms. Fremar, says the insight behind “I Will What I Want” was not “you go, girl,” she said. The goal was to celebrate women “who had the physical and mental strength to tune out the external pressures and turn inward and chart their own course.”

Ms. Fremar distilled the narratives to a few words: In Ms. Copeland’s story, “will trumps fate,” she said. And for Ms. Bündchen, “will trumps noise,” she added, a reference to the unforgiving media glare on supermodels.”(Schultz, 2014).

These types of media ads get attention – and they are getting it for the right reason. They are inspiring females to not look at themselves as a female athlete but simply as an athlete that can break any barrier presented to them.

My favourite line from the clip was “You don’t need permission when you have will”.

 I have never asked permission as an athlete to go to a certain gym, try out for a certain team but have always felt the looming judgments or stereotypes because I am a girl. If I’m cut, not strong enough for the next level or too insecure I should just give up instead of challenging myself.

Now through messages like these from Under Armour, they are changing how we see females in advertising and in turn in our own personal sport worlds for the better – showing that women can face fear, criticism, and surpass the limitations that society and ourselves have put on one another. Challenging us to have the will to want what we want and to go out and achieve it at any cost!

References:
http://adage.com/article/news/marketer-year-armour/296088/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/02/07/five-smart-things-under-armour-did-to-take-on-the-sports-retail-giants/

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/01/business/media/01adco.html?_r=1

Influence of Dolls on Body image: Is giving a Girl a Barbie the Same as Telling her to be Thin?

By Sarah A.

Body image refers to thoughts and feelings that an individual has towards his or her body and physical appearance. From a young age, media is influencing girls on the ideal female body image. On TV, in movies, and in stores girls are being bombarded with images of thin, beautiful women. Although men objectification is also common, it does not seem to have the same effect on young men as it does young women.

Over the years models, TV actresses, and Miss America contestants have been getting thinner and the pressure to meet these ideals are increasing tremendously. In the 1940s/1950s the ideal female body was a busty, voluptuous full figure, with an hourglass shape. As the 60s and 70s rolled around this ideal body image was changed, and “thin was in”. As years went on, the ideal body image for women began to be more and more unrealistic and unachievable. Young girls are constantly reminded of the importance of being thin and beautiful with toys such as Barbies and Brats Dolls.

Much like the ideal body image of women has changed over the years, the size of Barbies has also. In the 1990s, the average Barbie had a larger bust and waist circumference (although still unrealistic) than that of the Barbies sold today. If Barbie represented a real life women she would roughly be 5’9’’ and 110lbs. Growing up I loved playing with my Barbies. I wanted to look my Barbie, have the same clothes as my Barbie, and even drive the same pink convertible as my Barbie. With proper guidance from my parents I learned that I didn’t need to BE Barbie. As a 5’9’’ girl, I couldn’t imagine aspiring to be 110lbs, but with the increase in media influence, young girls may grow up with the hope of achieving an unrealistic body image. These pressures could eventually lead to eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Is this the body type that we are encouraging young girls to aspire to? Children are like sponges, they learn what they see, hear, and are surrounded with.

A women from Tasmania took it upon herself to re-create old Brats dolls into modern, natural, realistic young girls. She called it a make-under. By removing the drastic makeup that is painted on the dolls faces, and drawing on more natural eyes and lips, Sonia was able to create a doll that better represented children today. The feedback that she received from children was great, they loved them. Kids are not born with the desire to be thin and beautiful, they are exposed to it.

A study done on a local elementary school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, presented young boys and girls with a Barbie sold in stores and a realistically proportioned doll. The students related the realistically proportioned doll to themselves, friends, and family. The students were asked to describe what kind of job each doll would have. The Barbie was suggested to be a cook, model, fashion-star and make-up artist whereas Lammily (the realistic doll) was suggested to be a teacher, a pilot, a computer person ect. Children were found to prefer Lammily over the Barbie because they thought she better represented them. If we offered children an alternative to the outrageously unrealistic, body idealistic Barbies, according to studies, they would be just as happy (if not happier) to play with them.

Children need role models and people to look up to as they go through life, and giving them toys that add additional unrealistic pressures is surely not helping them. It is our responsibility to shape the children of the future and supplying them with toys such as Barbies, whose make up is perfect and body is symmetrical, is only giving them unachievable, unhealthy goals to work towards. We should be encouraging girls to love their bodies. We should be teaching them about health not unrealistic beauty standards. In the end HEALTH=BEAUTY.

Do you think replacing the thin, unrealistic Barbies in stores with more natural dolls, such as Lammily, will help encourage young children to aspire to a healthy body image?

Tree-change-doll video :

1)http://www.boredpanda.com/tree-change-dolls/

2) http://treechangedolls.tumblr.com/

Pittsburgh Study:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2843103/She-looks-just-like-sister-Kids-react-new-average-looking-doll-poke-fun-Barbie-unrealistic.html

 

Scholarly Articles

Hargreaves, D. A., & Tiggemann, M. (January 01, 2006). ‘Body image is for girls’: a qualitative study of boys’ body image. Journal of Health Psychology, 11, 4, 567-76.

Kuther, T. L., & McDonald, E. (2004). Early adolescents’ experiences with, and views of, Barbie. Adolescence, 39(153), 39-51

Food for thought

 

-SA

Media Coverage and Sexualization of Women in Sports

by Matthew C.

Since its inception almost 40 years ago (1972), Title IX has shown great strides in bridging the gender gap in athletics. Legislating that equal opportunities be provided in athletics for both males and females, we are beginning to see the positive results intended of this titles passing. Intended to focus mainly on college athletics, we are now seeing the results extend to a national level as well. Over the recent past Olympic periods, several countries including Canada and the United States of America have been composed of teams that are represented by an equal number of male and female athletes. Along with this, women have recently contributed to more medal wins for Canada at Olympic events than that of men. With all this success in bridging the gap between participation rates among women, we are still bearing witness to women’s athletics being oppressed through narrowly defined ideals about women in sport, fortified through the presentation of women’s sports through the lens of a male dominated media.

Sports media continues to be a male dominated domain. With 92% of sports coverage centering on male athletics, while only 5% of that is focused on women’s athletics, with the remaining 3% accounted for by gender-neutral topics. Not only is the ratio of women’s sport coverage greatly under represented in contrast to male sports, often times, the media attention that female athletics receives, focuses on the sexualization of the female athlete, and her experience of sport, as opposed to her athletic ability. This approach perpetuates negative ideals suggesting the merit of female athletes or value, lies in assets such as her appearance or relationships, thus taking away from attention paid to her athletic ability, contributions to the sport, or achievements.   Female sport is also the continual recipient of negative promotion by being portrayed or discussed as boring, entertainment value being contingent on the form of sexualization associated with the coverage. Examples of such sexism can be examined in the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London. Due to cold temperatures, female beach volleyball players were “permitted” to wear body suits consisting of long sleeves, and longer pants to stay warm. This caused a blow up on several social media platforms, suggesting that there was no longer a point to watch the women’s event now that the athlete’s bodies were covered up. The media’s attention being focalized on the sexualization of female athletes can be observed in the argued opinion of some, in regards to Russian tennis player Anna Kournikova. She possesses countless ads and sponsorships over her competition, despite the fact she has never won a major championship.

With all the strides Title IX has made over the past four decades, it is time for the media to evolve past damaging and sexist ideals. In recent years, such sports channels as TSN have made efforts to bridge the obvious gap between male and female sport coverage, and in such sports like curling, airtime is now equal for both male and female competitions. Along with this increased female coverage, interest in the sport has been increasing at a steady rate across Canada having visible female role models at the forefront. Recent rankings have even shown that the Women’s Final of the Pinty’s All-Star Skins game that took place in January between Team Homan and Team Jones attracted more viewers than that of their male counterparts.

Cases like this suggest that it is possible to gain interest in female athletics without the sexualization of the female body, but gain viewership and interest based solely on the athlete’s performance and ability. Other networks and media outlets need to use this example and increase female sports coverage and allow a fan base to develop. Title IX has shown an increase in female participation, and it’s now time for the media to make the changes to increase female sport coverage.

In closing, it is under evolved of us to ask female athletes to absolve themselves of their sexuality or physicality, in an effort to be taken seriously as participants of the athletic community, as Olympians and as professionals. But rather WE should be the ones, as consumers, as sport participants and as fellow human beings to absolve ourselves of our sexist ideals that serve to be constricting of female identity and experience within sport, and to think more critically of the portrayal in sport media.

Spread the Shred

By Erin Piercy

As a lover of mountains, the great outdoors, and winter (well, sometimes), it’s only natural that I am drawn to winter action sports. Skiing has been a huge part of my life, as my parents, aunts, and brothers all have a passion for pow. I remember the first time I ever tried skiing, I went down the Bunny Hill at Crabbe a handful of times, then demanded to try the King’s Horn. I was fearless as a little girl, and felt entitled to do everything my older brothers did in the athletic world, but I felt reservations as I grew older when I wanted to try the rails and the jumps with my brothers and there weren’t any other girls out there with them.

Winter action sports include ski and snowboard Big Air, Slopestyle, and Superpipe, among others. Although these sports are dominated by men, roughly 70% of participation rates, women are quickly gaining momentum. A huge advocate for women’s skiing is Ontario born Sarah Burke. Sarah excelled at what she did and is argued to be the most influential female skier ever. She had a passion for skiing, and wanted to encourage other girls to get on their skis and ready for competition. When Sarah first started competing, she was the only female in contests, and was the first to land many tricks of the trade, including a 720, 900, and 1080.

Sarah tirelessly pushed for women’s categories in contests, and ultimately ski halfpipe to be included in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. She was granted her lifelong wish in 2011 when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) accepted it as a winter Olympic event. Sarah never did get the chance to compete in the Olympics in the sport that she pioneered due to her untimely death in 2012. Although she may be gone, her legacy continues to live. You can’t escape many commentaries on a women’s contest without hearing Sarah’s name being mentioned, and how much she did for the growth of the sport for women. She continues to be a positive role model for girls and women alike, on and off the mountain.

The IOC has stated “to encourage and support the promotion of women in sport at all levels and in all structures, with a view to implementing the principle of equality of men and women”. In 2014 at the Sochi Olympics, they introduced Ski Jumping for women, had the highest participant rates for women at 40.3%, and an equal 50/50 split between men and women for number of events. It was mentioned in class that around 50% of funding is for Canadian women athletes, and what I think is even better is that women win more medals!

Sarah may not have influenced women ski jumpers, or alpine skiers, but the fact remains that there definitely need to be more female role models like her out there. American snowboarder athletes, Olympians, and X-Games medal winners, Kelly Clark, Elana Hight, Lindsey Jacobellis, and Grete Eliassen all share that promoting the sport through social media and TV coverage will encourage young girls to get involved. Hight brings up a great point where (generally) “women respond to other women, not to men”. I can vouch for this, as watching the women at the Olympics inspired me to get out to the hill more than I had been in the last few years, to catch some air, and break out of my comfort zone. So if it can get me, someone’s whose talents are just to get down the hill, to get out there and try new things, who knows what more coverage on women’s sports could do for girls who have knack for the intricacies and style of the action sports! We need to #CelebrateSarah, and shake off any doubt that women can’t keep up with the guys. Women do run the same slopestyle course as the men, and women do use the same superpipe. Women are doing the same tricks as men, and are getting great scores in contests…there just needs to be more of them! I think having these strong, talented women at the forefront of action sports is inspiring and I’m excited what new things will happen in the coming years as they continue to “spread the shred”.