Tag Archives: Olympics

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)

New Uniforms for the Sexylympics and WTF?

I guess I should just be glad that the IOC isn’t considering THIS judo uniform…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  I love, love, LOVE the Olympics.  In general, I don’t watch much TV.  I haven’t had cable for many years.  But for two weeks out of every two years, my entire life stops and I become an Olympiholic.  But darn it all Olympics, you’re making me so sad!

A while back we heard that there are several sports on the chopping block for inclusion in upcoming Olympic games.  Not surprisingly, many of these are the less “sexy” sports– the ones without sexy sound tracks or spectacular equipment, the ones without form fitting, revealing, sexy outfits.  The sport of Taekwondo is one of those sports considered most at risk.  So in an effort to spice things up, the World Taekwondo Federation is reviewing some new uniforms, especially for the lady fighters.

Don’t get me wrong.  This uniform is far from pornographic.  Unlike the women’s beach volleyball uniforms, it does manage to cover most of the body.  But this uniform proposal does leave me with a few nagging questions:

1.  What is the motivation for the change, and

2.  Will the uniform change equally for men and women?

Now, as this piece in the Powder Room points out, it appears that much of this site is translated loosely into English.  It’s difficult to know how much of this is because of a mangled English translation.  But the site does give me cause for concern.

On the one hand, the site lists a desire to move up to more technical fabrics that move and bend with the body (good) and will allow the sport to attach all of the important sensors that help spectators and judges know what is happening during the match (also good).  But the site also states that:

The most important reason is to take a better advantage of our female competitors because they are a treasure.  It is important to show that practicing Taekwondo gives good health, helps to stay fit and gives a beautiful body shape.  This last issue must be exploited and must be used to promote Taekwondo in this specific moment, after the success in the Olympics and a great World Championship, to attract television and mass media interest.

The site also states:

The most important reason is to take a better advantage of our female competitors because they are a treasure.  It is important to show that practicing Taekwondo gives good health, helps to stay fit and gives a beautiful body shape.  This last issue must be exploited and must be used to promote Taekwondo in this specific moment, after the success in the Olympics and a great World Championship, to attract television and mass media interest.

Female beach volleyball uniforms help amateur spectators (and lecherous camera people) determine the difference between male and female players…

I guess I shoulda seen this coming.  After all the World Taekwondo Federation acronym is “WTF”.  And with last year’s Gold-Medal-winning gymnastics hair kerfluffle and soft core porn “sports reels” this is just one of a long, long line of disappointments.

And I haven’t even begun to speak yet about the IOC’s response to Russia’s “reassurances” that their laws banning “homosexual propaganda” are still in line with the ideals of the Olympic spirit.  Seriously?!  What was the IOC thinking?  How can this ban on “homosexual propaganda” during the games possibly be okay?

We are still a few months out from the Winter Games scheduled to start in February.  But I have to admit I am fearful that the thing that always drew me to the Olympics–the different countries, the spirit of world community, the focus on the incredible athleticism displayed by the competitors, the sheer joy of watching curling at 3 AM–all of these things may be fading away.  I hope I’m wrong.  Here’s to hoping I can continue to enjoy two weeks of 24-hour Olympics coverage (sans sexist “costumes” and blatant objectification, et avec “curling”) for years to come.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  So go ahead and leave your mark in the “comments” section.


The Fat Chick

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See Fatty Run: Designer Sweat and Supermodel Athletes

It’s enough to make you crazy.  People of size are constantly asked to exercise, but are criticized for neglecting to look like supermodels while they are doing it.  Sometimes in the same article we are told not only that we need to get off the couch and exercise but also, please, for the love of all that is holy do it somewhere in private where there is positively no chance the “enlightened author” will have to look at us.  Is it any wonder some of us get fed up with exercise?

It seems that even for those in the highest and most prestigious positions in the land are especially vulnerable to attack while exercising.  I’m not talking about physical attack.  Those secret service dudes are serious business.  I’m talking about emotional attacks that play out in traditional and social media.  I was struck by this recent piece in the Telegraph entitled George Osborne horror pic: Why do Fat Politicians go Jogging in Public.  Seriously.  For realz.  A major paper published an opinion piece by one of the EDITOR of their blogs complaining that politicians who don’t sport a perfectly toned and tanned body need to exercise in a gym, far away from they prying eyes of the public.

And this is by no means a new development. Bill Clinton was ribbed endlessly for his public jogging pictures–and not just during his presidency.  When new Bill Clinton and Al Gore jogging photos surfaced in 2011, it made NATIONAL NEWS for crying out loud.

Obsession with the weight of the president complete with the obligatory Bill Clinton jogging shot.

Even incredibly talented and extremely accomplished professional and Olympic athletes are expected to look like supermodels at all times.  I mean when an African American gymnast wins one of the most highly coveted medals of the 2012 Olympics we still feel the need to spend news cycles talking about her hair being a little bit messy.  Because as we all know, Olympic athletes are all about teh sexy.  And as the inimitable Ragen Chastain points  out, even winning Wimbledon doesn’t prevent snarky newscasters from expressing their disappointment that the winning tennis star doesn’t meet their personal standards for personal attractiveness.

I blame Sports Illustrated.  Not only do they have a swimsuit edition, which requires the featured women to have exactly enough athletic prowess to pose nearly naked on a beach for a few hours.

Is it any wonder that so many of us feel so very intimidated by the notion of going out to exercise in public?  Is it any wonder that many of us who can’t afford designer workout wear, fake tans, liposuction and a secret service team feel like we can’t be seen on public streets working up a sweat.  And once we get up the courage to get out there and stumble along, yet find ourselves facing some stupid kid hollering insults or making animal noises out the window at us, will we do it again?  Will we lace up our sneakers, head out the door and face more abuse?

With all the outcry about lack of physical activity in this country, I think we need to spend less time idealizing “athletes” who have their own hair and makeup people and personal stylists and spend more time making fitness safe for the rest of us.  We need to make more places that are physically safe for us to walk the dogs, ride our bikes and even run our untanned, unretouched chubby legs down the street.  And we need to create a culture that makes exercise emotionally safe for people who don’t happen to look like supermodels.


The Fat Chick

P.S. Dear friends, starting tomorrow at 10 AM Pacific Time, we will be streaming live from the Size Diversity Task Force Big Fat Flea Market in Los Angeles.  YOU CAN PARTICIPATE EVEN IF YOU ARE NOWHERE NEAR CALIFORNIA.  You can buy raffle tickets online and you could win one of over fifty prizes with a total value of over  $1,000.  You can also use our live streaming feature to connect virtually with one of our personal shoppers.  They will hand select clothing just for you and send it out via priority mail.  This all happens TOMORROW, and you so DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS!

Some Athletes are Notably Missing from NBC’s Creepy Bodies in Motion Video

An Olympian woman licks her lips accompanied by a boom chicka wow wow 70’s soft porn soundtrack in NBC’s Bodies in Motion clip on the NBC website.

I’ve admitted it before and I’ll admit it again.  I am complete Olympics junkie.  I LOVE watching the Olympics and cheering for people who have devoted a serious percentage of their lives to be incredibly good at something.  But I have to admit how sad and disappointed I’ve been with the NBC coverage which seems intent on objectifying women and shows a ridiculous fetish-y need to show off the rear ends of incredibly talented women athletes.

First, there was the concern over the London weather being too cold for the beach volleyball players to wear their bikinis.  Then there was the uproar over Gabby Douglas’ hair.  And if that wasn’t enough, NBC felt the need to post a totally inappropriate video called “Bodies in Motion” that along with it’s 70’s soft porn style soundtrack featured a whole lot of women’s bodies, often without faces, in loving slow motion that featured, a lot of women’s butts.  Not that Olympic booty isn’t wonderful.  But seriously, these women train hard every day of their lives to be excellent at their sport.  So why oh why do we need frame-filling close-ups of beach volley-butts?

Probably most distressing to me about this video is who ISN’T in the video.  Weight lifters?  Nope.  Boxers?  Uh-uh.  Fencers, Judo Competitors, rowers, horseback riders, in short anything where women sport bodies considered slightly less movie-star-ready or wearing slightly more clothing?  No, no, no, no and no.

And what really frosts my fridge is the effect that this desire for conventionally attractive bodies has on sponsorship dollars for women athletes.  Sure if you’re gorgeous, blond, bouncy, ponytailed and razor thin, money can often be found.  Meanwhile serious athletes like Sarah Robles often have to get by on a few hundred dollars per month and help from neighborhood food banks.

Let’s face it, not all athletes look like porn stars.  Not all of them were considered worthy to star NBC’s soft porn video (which has since been pulled due to public outcry).  Nope, lots of athletes look just like you and me.  And nearly 1,000 of them participate in the fit fatties forum that I host with the ever-awesome Ragen Chastain.

So my little chicklettes, even if your rear-end is not bikini-clad or featured in barely safe for work fetish videos, don’t despair.  Remember that fitness comes in all shapes and sizes.


The Fat Chick

Dive Right In

This happy bear shows off his great diving form…

In honor of the Olympics diving competitions, I thought I’d present this awesome looking bear and make a little suggestion.  So often, when we’ve been berated for our weight and looked down upon, when we’ve heard the nasty comments, when we’ve internalized a need to hate our own bodies, we become cautious.  We don’t want to try new things.  We don’t want to wear a swimsuit in public.  We stay wrapped in our robes of familiarity and just occasionally dip our big toe into the water.

Well my little chicklettes, my advice for you today is to pick something–ANYTHING–in your life and dive right in.  Try something new.  Plug your nose and plunge into the deep end of the pool.  In this time with its dog days of summertime heat, it’s easy just to find a shady spot and lay low.  But summertime is also the time when taking the plunge is most refreshing!  So pick one thing that you’re holding back on or waiting for and just go for it!


The Fat Chick

Stuff that Weighs More than Me: Big Ben

“Big Ben” actually refers to this bell within the Clock Tower in London.

Thought it was time for some Olympics-sized stuff that weighs more than me.  And since the Olympics are in London right now, the first thing I thought of was Big Ben.

Naturally when most people point to Big Ben in London, they are actually pointing to the clock tower.  Big Ben is the nickname given to the huge bell located in the belfry of the clock tower.  The bell was cast in 1858 and first chimed the hour  on July 11, 1859.

The huge bell is not rung by a clapper, but rather by a hammer located outside of the bell.  In concert with the Great Westminster Clock, the bell is accurate to within one second.  The clock is actually powered by gravity.  There are weights on huge cables that are wound by the clock engineers three times per week.  The engineers check the clock against the world clock from time to time and add or remove pennies to the pendulum to bring it back to perfect time.

Here’s some stats:

Height of the Clock Tower: 97 Meters

Dimensions of Big Ben: 7 ft., 6 in. tall and 9 ft. wide

Weight of the “hammer” that rings the bell: Over 400 lbs.

Weight of Big Ben (the bell): 13.5 tons

Conclusion: Big Ben weighs more than me.  (It just might be louder than me too, but the jury’s still out on that one…)


The Fat Chick

Olympic Athletes Say “Enough” With the Fat Bashing Already

It seems even winning a gold medal in the Olympics Heptathlon isn’t enough to shut people up about your weight.  Women who can run and jump and hurdle and pole vault and lift hundreds of pounds at an undeniably elite athlete level are still receiving criticism in the media and in the social media stream about the size and shape of their bodies.  And these women have had enough!

Olympic weightlifters Sarah Robles and Holley Mangold received criticism for their size and shape although they are elite athletes at the top of their game.  Eight-time gold medal winner Liesel Jones from Australia was blasted for the way she filled out her swimsuit.  And apparently qualifying for your 4th straight Olympics games is not enough to quiet critics unless your washboard ads are visibly rippling.

Even Jessica Ennis, arguably one  of the fittest women in the world was criticized for the size and shape of her body.  She went on to win the Heptathlon for Great Britain last week.  Look, it’s one thing when folks have difficulty believing the fit/fat story in my case.  I’m a size 20 and a mere aerobics teacher.  But one has to find it at least a little ridiculous that the fittest women in the world are being criticized for not looking like supermodels.  I guess we can take heart in the fact that there is a backlash, and these women are speaking back.

But apparently no matter how accomplished you are as a woman, you’re not okay unless you look great in a swimsuit, oh and have perfect hair.

My little chicklettes, all I can say is that the world most definitely sucks sometimes.  All you can do is all you can do.  And sometimes, you just have to tell those small minded critics out there to kiss your tailfeathers.


The Fat Chick

Olympic-levels of FUN!

The Fat Chick with Olympian Cheryl Haworth, Filmmaker Julie Wyman and awesome producer Barbara Multer-Wellin at the Pasadena screening of Strong!

I am so excited and blessed that my dear friend Barbara Multer-Wellin and I had a chance to meet two absolutely amazing women–3-time Olympian Cheryl Haworth and extraordinary documentary filmmaker Julie Wyman before the screening of their movie Strong!  What an awesome film!  (I am trying for the WR for the most superlatives in one blog post ever, so work with me here.)  It is such a joy when you meet famous people who are so warm and down to earth and funny.  We laughed our heads off!  And I do want to give a shout out for the film.  I’ve seen it at least 4 or 5 times now (I’ve lost count) and it seriously gets better every time I watch it.  The film is beautifully shot and really portrays Cheryl’s strength, sense of humor and well-grounded sense of self.

Part of the sense of self that Cheryl portrays in the film is a sense of ambiguity in her feelings about her physical appearance.  I want to applaud both Cheryl and Julie for allowing us to see that ambiguity.  During the panel discussion last night, Julie spoke about the great temptation to have the movie be a message and have everything tied up in a neat bow at the end.  But life rarely works that way, and the openness of both Julie and Cheryl in allowing us to see that struggle for body acceptance is one of the most powerful things about the film.  Self acceptance, especially when one does not meet certain societal standards for body size and shape is hard.  The film shows us how hard it is without offering simplistic, preachy solutions.  I found that deeply meaningful.

So for heaven’s sake my little Chicklettes, go see this film!  If  you’re in Southern California, you can join me for a free screening followed by a panel discussion in Long Beach at 6 PM on May 29.  And there are still a few other screenings scheduled throughout the country.  Or at least plan on watching it on PBS when it airs in July.  Just don’t miss it!


The Fat Chick