Every two years, people around the world gather to watch the best athletes in their country compete in dozens of events, and witness the pinnacle of amateur sport—the Olympic Games. Why is it that a lot of folks who don’t normally follow sport tune in to watch? We want to see athletes run faster, lift more and perform better while wearing our nations’ flag on their back. We want to see these athletes push the boundaries of what we thought was humanly possible. It’s thrilling, it’s inspiring and when our home country wins, we all get to brag a little bit.
So with more females than ever vying for a spot on the podium, why the HELL are we still talking about what these athletes are wearing and whether or not they should have make-up on while they do so? How are we possibly continuing to bash the bodies of women who are breaking Olympic and world records? Why are men being entirely credited for podium-finishes? What year is this?
Can we please start more of a dialogue about the amazing shit these women actually DO (not the kind of “doing” that some “celebrities” become famous for)? Because when we don’t, we devalue their efforts and accomplishments. I don’t care what our female athletes wear or look like. I want to know what’s in their training programs, how they stay so composed under massive amounts of pressure, how they take care of their bodies to have long careers. I want to know how I can embody that discipline and dedication.
If I happen to have children one day, I want my daughter to know that if she reaches the top of her sport she’ll be congratulated for her hard work and performance, not patronized and asked to “do a little twirl” so we can see her coordinated outfit.
And if I have a son, I want him to be inspired by ALL athletes. I want him to be able to admire and strive to be someone like Meng Suping of China, who just took home a gold medal in weightlifting after she pressed 177kg overhead in the clean-and-jerk.
With millions of people watching, not only are the Olympic Games one of the rare opportunities that female athletes get to be televised on the world stage, it’s one of the only times we as society get to see what these powerhouses have been working towards.
We already shove enough bullshit down the throats of the public when we talk about the expectations of women, so please, let’s change our commentary around women in sport so the next generation can have real idols to be inspired by. #CoverTheAthlete