The Unwritten Sports Stat: Female Athletes Must Be Gorgeous

A friend forwarded me a link to an interesting article in the Guardian about how female athletes fear that how they look may outrank how well they perform in terms of their careers as sportswomen.    The article chronicles the results of a major study commissioned by BT Sport.  The study was commissioned after the 2012 Olympics partly in response to Olympic Gold Medalist Rebecca Adlington’s very public admissions about body insecurity after the games.  The study included over 100 elite female British athletes.

To those of us who study body image questions, it’s probably not that surprising that 89 percent of the athletes polled felt that they could relate to insecurity about body image.  67 percent felt that the public and the media valued their personal physical appearance over their athletic prowess, and over 70 percent said that it affected their diet and training regimes.  Let’s take a moment to ponder here.  We are talking about professional athletes who make their living from the capabilities of their bodies who are making training decisions based at least in part on how they will look in their singlet.  It makes you wonder if their performance might have been even better if they could allow their training and nutrition to be focused exclusively on what pushes their bodies to their best performance.

I have written before about the fact that I love the Olympics with a big old passion.  I have also expressed before, my deep disappointment over how we could spend time skewering the very best Olympic gymnast for the quality of her hairdo, or why we need to make Olympic uniforms look like outfits for cheerleaders.  (Another group of highly trained athletes that are hypersexualized to the point of ridiculousness.)  And don’t even get me started on Olympics advertising that looks like softcore porn.

And we’re not just talking about Olympians here.  Anyone from tennis stars to golfers are expected to look runway perfect these days.  Maybe that’s why I’m so excited about our Fit Fatty Virtual Events this year.  It allows you to complete all kinds of fabulous physical activities wearing what you want, wherever you want and on your terms.  We have had several incredibly inspired entrants who have completed significant tasks wearing pajamas.  We have had entrants complete events and perform community service simultaneously.  We have met Santa Claus on a 5K and performed epic, family-style, living room dance parties with kids of all ages.

Because Ragen and I are crazy enough to believe that physical activities should be about moving your body and having fun.

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

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One thought on “The Unwritten Sports Stat: Female Athletes Must Be Gorgeous

  1. msgeekmedia

    And who is the strongest woman in the Western Hemisphere right now? Sarah Robles:
    http://www.buzzfeed.com/jtes/the-strongest-woman-in-america-lives-in-poverty

    Before PCOS and the meds she has to take for it disqualified her from competition, she struggled to keep competitive because she simply did not get the endorsements skinnier and more conventionally attractive female athletes got. Now that she’s serving out a 2 year suspension, she’s really having to struggle.

    Yes, I admire the heck out of her. And I’m hoping she can get back into the good graces of the international weightlifting community, because it would be great if she was able to compete with the US team at Rio in 2016. Unfortunately the meds she has to take test out as steroids. The other alternative she had was ovariohysterectomy in her 20s. She shouldn’t have to sacrifice her fertility to compete in international weightlifting. And she shouldn’t have to be a certain weight or height to get endorsements…she’s awe-inspiring enough.

    Reply

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