Read ‘em: Elsewhere in beauty standards

Check out the Women of Color and Beauty Carnival on the yennenga LJ community. This looks like an awesome carnival, and I’m really excited to read all the linked posts. You’ll recognize Julia’s excellent post at Fatshionista, which we’ve been discussing around here; some of her posts on LJ are linked as well. Via Racialicious (which, seriously, is such an outstanding blog. If you’re not reading it regularly, bookmark it right now!).

I’m not following the Olympics this year for a lot of reasons, but if you are you should check out these two excellent posts on SP fave Hoyden About Town. Lauredhel writes about the unbelievable difference between the uniforms of male and female athletes in the same sports (example below). Meanwhile, Tigtog posts about the heartbreaking news that two little girls were exploited in the opening ceremonies for the sake of a beauty ideal: one sang behind the scenes, while in front of the audience a “cuter” girl either lip-synched or sang without knowing her mike wasn’t on. The girls are 10 and 9 years old, respectively. (In the US, of course, they’d be part of the “starter market.”)

83 thoughts on “Read ‘em: Elsewhere in beauty standards

  1. That… is so blatant it isn’t even funny. Seriously, I mean, the runners to me are especially ridiculous. And as if these women aren’t under enough intense pressure to perform during the Olympics.

  2. Commenters at Hoyden point out all kinds of things I hadn’t thought of, such as the fact that there is a MAXIMUM size these bikini bottoms can be, according to regulations. Also, w/r/t the runners: chafing?!?!?!

  3. Starting 10ish years ago when I was running cross country in high school, other teams (the fastest, most competitive, and most affluent ones) were wearing the “bun huggers” instead of shorts. *Obviously* though, only the women’s teams wore them. My team thought they were silly, as they weren’t going to noticeably improve someone’s performance over 4k.

    I’m sure that if my team had switched to them, I would’ve refused and/or quit the team. Sounds like a great way to get girls into athletics!

  4. Fair point..but if you watched the diving, you’d see it in reverse. The ladies are fully covered in swimsuits, while the guys are in itty bitty bottoms.

  5. Nope, you got me there! I think of that when I see volleyball players. When I was a kitten and played volleyball, we wore shorts. Today they wear hot pants or less and I think, “Man, were I 15 today, I would never have played sports..”

  6. I was noticing the uniform disparities as well – particularly in gymnastics. The guys get to add shorts or leggings depending on the event, but the girls don’t get even that scrap of modesty. It’s pretty even in the swimming though. I was glad to see that.

  7. The issue of beach volleyball uniforms was addressed by Laura Robinson in her 2002 book Black Tights: Women, Sport, and Sexuality. It’s a good read.

  8. Is it female immodesty or male homophobia? I’ve heard Europeans mocking the male baggy shorts look and blaming American male prudishness and corporate squeamishness for forcing the world’s male athletes to hide their bodies. (This conversation started at a swimming pool where the American dudes were swimming laps wearing surfer style shorts. And being relentlessly mocked behind their backs.)

  9. Is it female immodesty or male homophobia?

    That’s a false dichotomy — it’s most likely both/and. Both are products of the same dynamic, which is that the kind of bodies that should be valued for their appearance are female, and the kind of bodies that should be valued for their achievements are male.

  10. Yes, absolutely. But male privilege is also predicated on homophobia. Eve Sedgwick argues in Epistemology of the Closet that male homosexual panic is “the normal condition of male heterosexual entitlement” — because it’s next to impossible to distinguish close male bonds that perpetuate male privilege (like, say, those on an elite athletic team, where you hang out with buff, half-naked men and thrash your bodies around to…win a medal) from male homoerotic bonds (where you hang out with buff, half-naked men and thrash your bodies around to… do other stuff), men constantly have to police each other for “signs” of homosexuality. The “terroristic” persecution of perceived gayness is the price of male privilege.

    [/queer theory]

  11. maybe the runners all have to be thin enough to reach that mythical (as far as I know) stage of thinness where You Don’t Chafe.

    Does that really exist? Even when I was really really skinny years ago, my thighs still rubbed together. I mean, I’m sure there are people who are built in such a way that their thighs don’t touch, but I somehow doubt that’s realistic for everyone. Below the knee running tights are like the best thing ever if you’re into running and have the inner thigh chub rub. I’m sure even some Olympic caliber athletes would love to be able to wear them.

  12. emmy: Exactly! That’s why I called it mythical –I’ve never known anyone who hasn’t had that problem running. I added the disclaimer because I don’t know for sure that there are NO women for whom that’s not true.

  13. It’s not just in costumes, it’s also been in presentation — and there, there is a significant difference between the swimmers and divers. Or so I think. I’ve not been clocking it, but it’s my impression we’re shown more footage of the women stretching, shaking, adjusting their caps, goggles and suits, showering after, and sitting in the diver’s hot tub — I’ve not seen any footage of the men sitting in the hot tub.

  14. Lyssa, you and me both. When I played volleyball (10 years ago), we wore loose-fitting shorts and shirts with long sleeves and a collar. I’m pretty sure they were hand-me-down uniforms that, like the band uniforms, had been kicking around the high school since the ’70s (the band got around the issue by not wearing the uniforms). And after the year I played, the volleyball team wore spandex mid-thigh shorts and uniform T-shirts like the other division teams did.

    No idea how short the shorts are now, but as a fat dorky kid, if I knew the uniforms involved spandex shorts I’d never have tried out. I was self-conscious enough wearing shorts in public.

  15. TBS, I highly recommend the book, though be forewarned that it is mega-dense (though with a surprisingly deft sense of humor). It was a tough read, but it blew my mind.

  16. Bald Soprano and emmy, at my thinnest, I reached a point where my thighs didn’t touch. I didn’t run much at all, but there was one glorious summer where my shorts didn’t ride up into my crotch. (On my frame, that was a loose size 12.) It *does* exist!

    I’ve heard of runners using deodorant or products similar to Monistat’s anti-chub-rub cream — in fact, some usable chub-rub remedies are marketed to runners trying to reduce friction and chafing.

  17. Personally, I can’t get over the fact that they play music for the woman gymnast’s floor routine and make them do cutesy dance moves in between the tumbling runs, but don’t do the same for the men. Come on.

  18. Just as an aiside, if you want to see a sport that embraces ALL body types, you should look at the women’s water polo teams. Sure, there’s some 6’1 thinner women, but there’s just as many people in a more broad body shape, in all heights. It’s kind of fun that an Olympic sport has a place for everyone. It’s not quite as obvious on the men’s side, but still there.

  19. My track team’s uniform involved short, but loose shorts that had a fairly impressive slit up the side and a very skimpy tank top. Most of the throwers, the hurdlers and distance runners, and some of the sprinters wore bike-length shorts or full-length leggings (depending on the weather) under the shorts and t-shirts or more modest tanks under the tops. Those shorts were short enough that there really wasn’t anywhere for them to ride up to in the crotch, even my swim suit felt more modest.

    My best friend and I were a similar size in high school. My thighs rubbed, hers didn’t. She didn’t even make that swish swish noise walking down the hall when she wore corduroys.

  20. TBS and Emmy, I am your mythical woman who doesn’t chafe. *laughs* You’re right- it’s not a thinness thing. I know multiple people who wear exactly the same pants size as I do who do chafe. Medium thinness in combination with wide hips, maybe?

    SM, these are great links- thanks. I’m sending them to everyone I know.

  21. Re: the chafing thing. I think it has more to do with hip-set than anything. My thighs don’t chafe even when I’m quite heavy, while my mother’s do even when she’s fairly thin. I have high-set flat hips, while she has the prototypical low/wide hips.

    Notably, though, my hips are poorly built for running, and if I insist on doing it, I develop chronic hip pain in a hurry.

  22. it is mega-dense (though with a surprisingly deft sense of humor). It was a tough read, but it blew my mind.

    OT, but for the record, this is my experience with nearly all of Eve Sedgwick’s writing. A more recent book I’ve enjoyed a lot: Touching Feeling, which is a sort of wild safari through the way we communicate texture through language and the way language shapes the way we experience texture, and Sedgwick’s understanding of that kind of embodiment in books and her experience with it post-cancer.

    I can’t even make it make sense in summary. Her brain is like whoa.

  23. I can’t help but wonder WRT the chub rub…

    Considering how hard I have found it to WALK if I go out without tights under my skirt once the rubbing and soreness starts, how the hell are these women actually supposed to complete their sports? Even with that anti-rub stuff?

  24. I was the one who brought up the chafing problem on the Hoyden About Town post, and I know that some women’s thighs don’t meet in the middle when they’re super-thin/super-fit. In fact, my friend from Korea told me that that is a goal for women – thighs with a gap in the middle mean you’re thin enough. But anyway, I looked at the picture of the female Australian runners, and you can definitely tell that their thighs are large enough that it would be an issue over long distances. And as someone who has made the mistake of running without proper running shorts and suffered the pain and bleeding that resulted, I’d be pissed if I was forced to wear those swimsuit bottoms. It’s not only not a performance-increaser, it possibly decreases performance.

  25. Lalaroo, Ouch! Bleeding as well as pain? I’ve never chafed that bad, and it sounds horrible! How did you walk afterwards? I find it hard enough to resist the crab-dance when I get chafing even a little bit.

    I really do feel sorry for those women at the end of their sets. Actually… about two thirds of the way THROUGH their sets. Like you said, you can see in the photo their thighs pressing together.

    You would think that athletes of such high calibre would be allowed the best quality of sportswear for the games. Wouldn’t sportswear advertisers jump at the chance to say “look, this Olympic athlete is wearing a bodysuit that WE designed!”

  26. I once covered a “Day of Listening” by a district of United Methodist churches. It was a discussion of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people and their relationship to the church (in which no gay Methodists or gay people were invited to speak.)

    A seminarian in a small group session said something I’d never thought of at the time. He said that homophobia was the jarring awareness of being objectified sexually by a man. He said that men are not accustomed to being objectified. Then, he said:

    “Welcome to a woman’s life. ”

    How freaking brave was that guy to say that?

  27. I think that what shocked me the most about the lip-synching of the girl was that it didn’t shock me at all. I just read the article and thought “Oh well, that kind of stuff has to be expected.”

    Must work on not being so complacent!

  28. *It’s not just in costumes, it’s also been in presentation — and there, there is a significant difference between the swimmers and divers. Or so I think. I’ve not been clocking it, but it’s my impression we’re shown more footage of the women stretching, shaking, adjusting their caps, goggles and suits, showering after, and sitting in the diver’s hot tub — I’ve not seen any footage of the men sitting in the hot tub.*

    My partner left television to go into medicine, so I’ve spent time in television studios and on remote trucks.

    Almost all the camera operators are men. Who seem to be of the straight-lumberjack-ogling type.

    Just sayin.

  29. I remember watching the volleyball at the Sydney Olympics, when I was a chubby 9th grader, and wondering about the disparity between the men’s and women’s beach volleyball uniforms. Huh.

    Has anyone got pics of the standard (seven player team) volleyball teams? I have a feeling that part of the reason that the women wear bikinis is because the male gaze says “Look! BEACH! SAND! That means you have a to wear a bikini!”

  30. Seriously, when did bikinis become the default swimsuit? A bunch of us went canoing the other day and about 99% of the women who were wearing swimsuits were in bikinis.

  31. I’ve been told by runner friends that the body glide stuff does work wonders even for running long distances (including marathons), so maybe it works out for them. I can’t imagine it though.

  32. … when did bikinis become the default swimsuit?

    This I remember — it happened in the late 1960s, early 1970s. At least, on the US West Coast, and in the Hawaiian Islands. For a time there in the 70s, the only one-pieces I could find in the shops were leotards, not actual swimsuits — those itchy Jantzens that went baggy as soon as you did any, you know, real work in them.

    Has anyone got pics of the standard (seven player team) volleyball teams?

    I’ve not seen them at the Olympics, but here’s a photo of them from the World Grand Prix in July:

    http://volleyball.teamusa.org/multimedia/photo_gallery/105

  33. “You would think that athletes of such high calibre would be allowed the best quality of sportswear for the games. Wouldn’t sportswear advertisers jump at the chance to say “look, this Olympic athlete is wearing a bodysuit that WE designed!” ”

    May I respectfully play devil’s advocate here? What if the female athletes *prefer* the beach volleyball suits they currently wear? What if the running gear the T&F women wear are in fact the best quality of sportswear and chose for performance/aerodynamics reasons? (For all the money in athleticwear and shoes, on the Olympic level? I would certainly hope so.)

    Both Kerri Walsh and former BV player Holly McPeak have both stated why they wear the two piece suit and what it does for them on the court.

    I understand the bigger picture here- really, I do. And it has given me much to think about rather than my usual ‘Oo shiny’ Olympics glaze. It’s important to question the double standard.

    But I also trust enough in the female athletes to recognize that maybe they do know what gear works best for them. Do they have a responsiblity to counter possible sexism- some of it perpetuated by media outlets and totally out of their control- even if it means hindering their own athletic abilities? I don’t know.

  34. ” What if the female athletes *prefer* the beach volleyball suits they currently wear?”

    If they preferred them, why do they have to be mandated? Why does it specify in the Olympic regulations (I can only find Athens, but I believe things are similar now) that the briefs must be small, a close fit, slope upwards at the leg, and have a MAXIMUM hip width of 6-7 cm? Why did the Indian players face a battle to get their preferred looser clothing approved?

    “What if the running gear the T&F women wear are in fact the best quality of sportswear and chose for performance/aerodynamics reasons? ”

    I can’t for a second believe that women’s elite sports clothing is chosen purely for the best quality and performance, and men’s isn’t. It makes no sense. If teeny briefs gave optimum performance, where hundredths of a second count, all the men would be wearing them.

  35. Bunny Mazonas, it hurt really bad! I definitely did a lot of bow-legged walking, and baby powder helps, too. :)

    That’s a great point, Lauredhel, and one that can’t be said enough. People invariably say “Well, they’re at the Olympics, I don’t really think they’d wear something that wouldn’t be the absolute best for their performance” while ignoring that the mens’ uniforms in the same sports differ substantially. And they also offer up some version of the “choice” argument that LilaF brought up above – “they probably just love wearing the two-pieces, if they didn’t they’d wear something else, wouldn’t they?” and then are flabbergasted to find out that there are mandated maximum widths for the hips of the bikini bottoms. It reminds me a lot of the people who say “Women like wearing high heels/the color pink/having babies – they wouldn’t wear/do it if they didn’t!” without considering the patriarchy.

  36. Zoe:

    “Has anyone got pics of the standard (seven player team) volleyball teams?”

    I don’t think the current indoor volleyball is well underway yet in Beijing, and I don’t think Australia qualified, but here are recent shots of typical uniforms (a couple from Beijing). The difference isn’t quite as extreme as in the beach volleyball, but it’s still readily noticeable.

    Men in loose shirts and longish loose shorts

    Women in snug tops with either swimsuit type bottoms or teeny boyleg-underwear type hotpants

    On devil’s-advocating: No one, but no one, will ever convince me that this photo gallery from NBC, “Cracking the Code”, is all about high-mindedly admiring the athletic performance of these women. There’s just no devil’s advocate position to be had there.

  37. Tapetum, I hadn’t thought of that, maybe the set of the hips is part of what causes chub rub. I also have low set wide hips, and have always had chafing issues, even when I was technically “underweight.” Of course, I’ve also always had a tendency to put on muscle really easily in my lower body (much to my chagrin when trying on knee high boots that will not ever zip over my huge calves) So giant thigh muscles may be a contributing factor.

    Interesting to see that there are those who have a non chub rub build. Thank your lucky stars that’s one pain you don’t have, because, seriously, it’s really awful. I think I’m going to have to find some of that Body Glide LilahMorgan mentioned upthread.

    And on topic, I have to agree that if these uniforms actually did have some performance advantage, no doubt male athletes would be wearing them as well. I think we’re looking at a case of the Male Gaze being used to market women’s sports. Which is double sad, because their athletic ability *should* be marketing enough, but there’s an assumption that female athletes are somehow less than male athletes, unless, of course, they’re sexy enough to watch anyway. Gag.

  38. I’m going to be particularly unhelpful here and just say that I’m glad I declared this house a Nolympics space, admittedly for political reasons that have nothing to do with the objectification of female athletes. I do miss the gymnastics, even with all the silly dancing around that’s mandated for women’s floor routines.

    I like Hoyden’s aside about not calling female Olympic competitors “girls”, I’d like to add that calling them “ladies” is also not welcome. Not unless you’re willing to refer to all the male competitors as “gentlemen”.

  39. Eucritta, thanks for the volleyball link! Funny how regular volleyballers can wear fitted sleeveless tops and short shorts (which hopefully don’t have a mandated length).

    I’m honestly glad that I don’t own a tv, or live at home in Australia at the moment – Australia tends to do pretty well in women’s beach volleyball (I think the team won gold in Sydney), so the inane channel seven coverage would be never-ending.

  40. I can’t help but wonder if some of the uniform choices are made for financial reasons–ie, beach volleyball in itself is not a high-paying gig so you have to get endorsements and you’re much more likely to get an endorsement in a teeny-weeny bikini than in baggy shorts? While I think this happens to a degree to all athletes I think it is especially true of female athletes who tend to be more valued for their looks than their athletic skill.

  41. I am currently most outraged by how young some of the Chinese girls are in the gymnastics competition. (I feel I can call them girls as at least two of them are almost certainly only 14.) Their country is forcing them, their families, and their friends to lie about their ages for a sporting event.

  42. I’m not letting the Olympics cross my television set (attempting to vote with my viewership?) but it’s hard not to see some of the Olympics when they’re on every TV in every restaurant and at one friend’s house.

    Anyway, I pointed out to people that the outfits were hideously sexist, and my friends all agreed but secondarily turned it into a joke and said, “But it has to do with the completely different aerodynamics of when men lunge, you see . . .”

    Uh-huh. Sure. :)

    (Again, fortunately they GOT IT before they made jokes about it.)

    I’m glad those women are very talented and athletic but I’m sorry that they are apparently all (except divers) in sports where it seems that objectification is at least a strong secondary (if not a primary) reason people watch.

  43. Another runner here weighing in to say that inner thigh chafing has nothing to do with thinness…. I have never experienced the problem, as my thighs don’t touch in the middle (genetics? hip angle?), but my good friend (and fellow long distance runner) does experience this, even though she’s a good deal thinner than i am. I would imagine the uniforms benefit some and irritate the hell out of other runners, based on body type. (and i assume it benefits some, as occasionally marathoners will actively choose to wear the butt hugger briefs in competitions where uniform isn’t mandated)
    The bottom line is, if the Olympics is a celebration of physical strength and the prowess of the (various types of) human body, then Olympians should be given a choice of uniforms, as not one uni will suit all body types. It’s a clear case of the patriarchy at work.

  44. I haven’t read all the comments yet… however, I just saw that in Germany the Playboy has some kind of “Olympics special” and of course my email provider had an article on it along the lines “all this exercise is good for more than just winning medals” complete with some of the photos and the old clichés of women in “men’s sports” such a judo and hockey. Ugh.

  45. Regarding the supposed functionality of bikinis for beach volleyball, the only thing I can think of is the increased potential for getting sand in unfortunate places. Ouch.

    (And this is completely off-topic, but the conversation reminded me that aforementioned WW-obsessed best friend was complaining about how she still wasn’t skinny enough to wear a bikini to a pool party/barbecue we had last weekend. This gave me the kick in the ass I needed to buy one for myself and wear it. I giggled silently the whole time and looked damn cute too.)

  46. Wait a minute, wait a minute! Are you seriously telling me that those outfits are UNIFORMS? I just assumed those volleyball girls wore those bikinis because they were so proud of their physiques. But if they’re *uniforms,* for fuck’s sake, I need to be boycotting that shit.

    On a side note, my spouse, who is a semi-amateur-wanna-be-pro sand volleyball player, nearly gave himself a hernia the first time he saw those gals in their skimpy outfits. He couldn’t believe any ‘serious’ player would wear something so obviously ridiculous and/or unsuitable for the sport. Granted, he’s kind of a know-it-all, but to me, I don’t understand how going up for a block while simultaneously worrying one of your tits is going to pop out could improve your play.

    YMMV, etc.

    *shameless self-promotion below, stop reading here if you value your soul*

    I finished the summary of my book yesterday, and have a genuine sense of achievement. For the gory details, y’all can check my blog! (linked to my name above)

  47. Though I don’t disagree, Mo’s point is a good one–I was watching men’s gymnastics with my boyfriend last night, and in every case where a gymnast’s pant revealed the least outline of his anatomy, boyfriend made some comment like “nice chubbie” or “oh god, no one wants to see that!” I looked, strictly out of anatomical curiosity, and noticed that, in a couple of cases, there was nothing that the guy could have done. And my boyfriend is pretty metro and not a ‘phobe–I can imagine how self-conscious a tight outfit might make a male athlete.

  48. Am I the only one who found the banned singer adorable? The lip-syncher is conventionally cute, but the singer has the face of an angel, IMO. And I hope karma comes down hard on those who so mistreated her at such a vulnerable age.

    I think we should demand that EVERYONE at the Olympics be vetted for attractiveness/facial symmetry/perfect proportions. I’m guessing half the athletes would be watching from the bleachers. JMO

  49. atiton: that article… *snrk* “Overseas players, however, were sticking to the dress code yesterday and said they hoped the spectators would focus more on their skills rather than their brief attire.”

    Oh, yeah, that’s likely… almost as likely as people who don’t want to wear bikinis for cultural or religious reasons being ‘inspired’ to go along with the dress code by seeing how good other teams look in them.

    But the thing that I like best about that article? “But the bikini-only rule has not been popular even in the West, with many women arguing that they should be allowed to wear either tights or shorts.”

    That sort of puts paid to the “but they WANT to wear them!” and “it’s for performance reasons!” arguments, doesn’t it?

  50. THANK YOU!!! For bringing up the volleyball uniforms!

    I’d say beach volleyball and running are the worst offenders. I also say that if the women have to wear bikinis, the men should have to wear banana-hammocks. It’s only fair. All or nothing people.

    Interestingly enough, the swimmers’ uniforms are pretty equal for each gender. They even have the men covering their bodies in the water. Because – wait for it – they base their uniforms on what’s best for their performance! Try not to pass out over that one.

    And in diving the men are actually wearing less than women (banana hammocks vs one-piece racing suits). I’m not sure what bearing that has on the sport though, I don’t know nearly as much about diving as I do about swimming, having never been a diver.

    Not that that excuses the other, unequal sports. I just wanted to point out some positives. Because I’m Polly fucking Sunshine (lol).

  51. This conversation started at a swimming pool where the American dudes were swimming laps wearing surfer style shorts

    That’s interesting, Mo.

    When I was on swim team, both guys and girls did stuff like that, and it wasn’t for modesty. The idea was, every time you train/practice, you wear loose clothing like shorts, a t-shirt, or an old ripped-up bathing suit over your regular suit because it added drag. It slows you down so you have to work harder to be fast. So when you get in for the race you use the same amount of effort and end up going faster.

    Granted, at the ass-slow level I was at it didn’t make a difference, but at Olympic level where you can win or lose a medal or a world record by hundredths of a second it actually could.

    Hmmm…maybe that’s where that extra push at the end of the 4×100 relay came from?

    [/snark]

    Outside of swimming, I don’t have an answer for you. Because I don’t actually know anything about any other sports, lol.

  52. Should be:

    “So when you get in for the race in just your racing suit you use the same amount of effort and end up going faster.”

    Probably obvious, but I thought I’d clarify.

  53. My husband just told me about hearing on the TV (from an olympic commentator) that the new wonder swimsuits are (unspecified gender –possibly both) are uncomfortably tight and the swimmers (unspecified gender –in German(!)) get out of them as soon as they can.

    I can testify to the ‘out of them as soon as possible’, at least for the men… I saw a bare butt on camera the other day.

  54. I don’t understand how going up for a block while simultaneously worrying one of your tits is going to pop out could improve your play.

    Not to mention the wedgies. Dear God, the wedgies.

    I agree that slide show was terrible. Some of those “uniform” bottoms are little better than thongs.

    I mentioned the disparity to a (male) coworker today. Of course, the first response was the tired, “Well, I think that would give the female players an advantage, since they have less fabric to catch the air.” And I’m like, first of all, yes I am familiar with the concept of aerodynamics, and secondly, competitive against who? The other bikini-bottomed women? Because it’s not baggy-bottoms vs. bikinis here, the men and women are technically on the same team.

    So I said, “No, I’m pretty sure they just want to show T&A.” To which coworker replied, “Well, I haven’t watched any of the Olympics, so I haven’t seen any T&A, and can’t make an opinion.” Wha? *boggle* Okay, so congratulations, but this isn’t about you watching the Olympics, it’s about FREAKING SEXISM BEING EVERYWHERE.

    Sometimes I think people, especially men, are simply afraid even to admit that sexism exists. Because, what, then the feminists win the world or something? Because if you admit that yeah, that’s pretty fucking sexist to force the women to wear bikinis, I am going to command you to personally do something about it? Hey, here’s what you can do about it: fucking admit it exists, you fucking fucker.

    I mean, fuck.

  55. Come on there the same people who offed bush the spank one of them I do not feel sorry for them nor do i think they fell sorry for them selfs

  56. Come on there the same people who offed bush the spank one of them I do not feel sorry for them nor do i think they fell sorry for them selfs

    uh, what?

  57. @lin, If I understand your sentence correctly, you are suggesting that I contributed that link above because I thought the beach volleyball players felt sorry for themselves (and/or I felt sorry for them) when one of them asked President Bush whether he might like to spank her, dressed, as she was, in practically no clothes at all.

    I put in the link because I find it pretty much horrifying that this reported interchange took place AT ALL (in public?? someone help me out here…), and this is true both from the perspective of the women in the picture, and, to be honest, from the perspective of the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

    YMMV, obv.

  58. I played volleyball in high school. First year we wore short but loose shorts and t-shirts. Second year they decided to get these bike-short type things. They rode up horribly on me, although it seemed to be less a weight issue than a body shape issue, as the two other large girls didn’t experience the same trouble. I wore them with the same bike shorts I wore to practice underneath; the bike shorts were a much stiffer spandex and actually compressed my legs, as opposed to the uniform shorts which were more like tight-cut cotton with a little stretch to help get them on. This was worrisome at games because if my under-layer showed, I’d get in trouble with the refs for not being “in uniform.” They were utterly fanatical about that, to the point where one girl had a 10-minute argument with them about the lettering on her shirt being a different shade of blue. Because it had faded in the wash.

    My senior year the coach decided she was tired of watching us roll up out shirt-sleeves, and we got skimpy tanks to go with the skimpy shorts. That year, one of the freshmen who joined the team was a very large girl. The shorts didn’t come in her size. Lord, the production my coach made out of finding a substitute uniform bottom… I felt so sorry for the girl. I told her so. Wish I’d told the coach too, but the coach already pegged me as Fatty McFat in her head and I was laying low on such matters. (Because Fatty McFats can’t play, y’see, and it’s dumb to put them on the court. Even if they’re better than your starting setter. I wanted play time, so I kept my mouth shut.)

  59. @Pat: I think it might actually be a myth that the beach volleyball players have to wear the skimpy two-pieces. They have a choice between a one-piece and a two-piece bathing suit. If, however, the two-piece is chosen, the bottom part cannot be more than 7cm high on the sides.

    There does not seem to be any room in the regulations for any type of shorts.

    See page 42 here for the regulations for the Athens games:

    http://www.fivb.org/EN/BeachVolleyBall/Competitions/Olympics/WATH2004/2004%20Specific%20Events%20Regulations.pdf

  60. Liza — And in diving the men are actually wearing
    less than women (banana hammocks vs one-piece
    racing suits).

    At first glance, it seems that the amount of coverage is
    reversed for men and women divers. But the women’s suits
    kept bothering me, so I did a little analysis the other night.

    Male divers — suits are tight and skimpy, but the bottom
    hem goes down almost to the crease where leg joins
    buttocks, and the side of the suit is cut at the same level.
    Female divers — the bottom hem is halfway up their
    buttocks, giving a distinct ‘wedgie’ effect, and the side is
    cut so high over the hip that they feel obliged to “tug”
    everything down as they exit the pool. I haven’t seen one
    man need to “tug”; their suits, even though skimpy, are cut
    to stay in place. And, as someone pointed out — how the
    camera lingers as the women adjust their suits for comfort.

  61. I felt so sick when I read what had happened at the Olympic opening ceremony to Lin and Yang – one girl denied the spotlight because despite having the most beautiful voice she was not deemed “cute enough”; the other girl put up on stage an not even told that her voice would not be broadcast as they only wanted her for her image. It will be a miracle if either girl manages to grow up with healthy self-esteem.

  62. I’d noticed the disparity in the outfits as well, especially in the beach volleyball.

    I have, however, seen men not only in the budgie-smugglers, but also showers and in the hot tub! Shock horror! I admit, this was in the men’s synchronised diving, so limited to one occasion, but I just thought I’d put it out there that there was /some/ coverage. Not very much, but oh well.

  63. The thing that I think is terrible is that quite a few male beach volleyball players would prefer to play shirtless, since it’s cooler and there’s not the extra fabric, which makes it easier to get net violations, but they’re not allowed to.

    Really, unless there’s a safety issue, athletes should be allowed to wear pretty much whatever they want to. In a lot of cases there is a reason behind the skimpier clothing – in gymnastics, a high-cut leg hole gives the appearance of longer legs, which can make your performance look more artistic and graceful, thus giving you a higher score. But if someone wanted to wear, say, boy-cut shorts (which, judging by all the practice film, is what they wear when not in competition), they should be allowed to.

  64. When I was a college then varsity runner, and played indoor volleyball in college, bun hugger briefs were mandatory right across the State and AFAIK nationally throughout the sports. I didn’t give them a second thought, to me they were comfortable and looked professional.

    Now, 25 years on, my daughter is moving from a college where she ran in shorts to a varsity team that mandates bun huggers. She’s majorly nervous about making the switch. I can’t help thinking if they’d been standard issue in college she wouldn’t have had this concern now.

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