Olympic contender? Make sure your lipstick’s straight.

The Olympics are well underway. How refreshing, Kira Cochrane writes here, to see women being celebrated for their hard won acheivements – their strength and grit and skill – rather than just being evaluated on the basis of their appearance.

Nicole Cooke wins gold.

She writes: ”we have become used to seeing that strange category – celebrity women – pictured constantly, relentlessly, their image before us for no other reason than that they happen to have headed out for a pint of milk with their makeup on skew-whiff. At Beijing we have seen the antithesis of that – we have been treated to the sight of ordinary women reaching extraordinary heights. … They aren’t on screen because they have starved themselves to a size zero – instead, their bodies are a celebration of strength.”

Indeed, she cites statistics showing just how infrequently (in the UK) images of sportswomen otherwise appear in the media:
“just 2% of articles and 1% of images in the sports pages of national newspapers are devoted to female athletes and women’s sports … Just 1.4% of sports photography featured women; and despite the fact our research only looked at the sports’ pages, there were more images of models, footballers’ girlfriends, the French president’s wife and a nun than of sportswomen.”
(these stats from the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation. See also the Women’s Sports Foundation, Both of these organisations campaign to make sport more accessible to girls and women).

Might this Olympic coverage help to change the way women are represented in the media, she asks? We can hope.
Articles like ‘World-class pin ups: olympic contenders for the gold medal in glamour‘, from the Independent’s supplement (shame!) won’t help.
And even Olympians, it seems, can’t avoid the horrible ‘circle of shame’-type treatment – see here (thanks reader Roberta).

You’re competing at the Olympics and your sports gear slips? Honestly, who cares.

2 thoughts on “Olympic contender? Make sure your lipstick’s straight.

  1. JJ has pointed me to the following pieces (thanks!), which are also disappointing in their comments about women athletes and the coverage they are getting:

    which includes the comment:
    “But most of all I will watch the enormously popular women’s gymnastics competition. The performances are incredible and fearless, but it isn’t the athleticism that draws me in. In fact I can’t think of any competition in the Olympics, or all of SportsWorld, more creepy and disturbing: these largely shapeless girls in their leotards and flaxen-waxen hair and bouncy-wouncy ponytails”



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