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the leisel jones weight debate

Just before the London Olympics were set to begin, harsh comments about Leisel Jone’s weight began to arise.

Well… they were harsh if you are of one opinion. If you’re of the other, then they were fair comments.

While I can guess which side of the fence Lip readers will be on, I am not so sure it’s as cut-and-dried as it seems at first glance. And since I have been playing over both positions in my head for the past few weeks, it seems only natural that I should write this article from both positions as well.

A debate with myself? Sounds like fun…

Dear Lip readers, Kaylia 1 is here to tell you that the comments about Leisel’s weight had nothing whatsoever to do with body image. Jones is an athlete and as such, needs to keep up an optimum fitness level to have a chance of winning gold at the Olympics. These aren’t comments to say that people with a bigger build can’t be fit, but the public are used to seeing Jones look a certain way. When she appears looking a little rounder and less muscular than she had previously, of course people are going to question whether she is at peak condition for the Olympics.

No one cares what she looks like. They aren’t criticising her hair or her facial features or demanding that she wear more makeup. They are simply pointing out that she doesn’t look as fit as she used to. Those who made the comments only care about how well she is going to do as a representative of Australia. To say that it is a body image issue detracts from the many instances when there ARE body image issues in the media. As feminists, we shouldn’t be jumping onto every single issue regardless of context – it takes away from what we are trying to achieve and can make the true issues seem a lot less serious.

Now that I have brought up the whole feminist thing, another thing to point out is that Leisel wasn’t criticised about her figure simply because she is a woman. After all, I’m sure we all remember Geoff Huegill. And I am sure we also remember when he began to gain a lot of weight. How could we forget, with all of the media coverage about it? And the comments were the same, and for the same reason.

Let’s not turn this into something it is not.

…..

Kaylia 2 is here to say that everything Kaylia 1 said is completely naïve and downright ridiculous.

As we all know, body image is a huge issue in the media, particularly when it comes to women. It seems that talent is just not good enough – even Olympic size talent – and that these days, if a woman wants to be taken seriously, she had better look attractive as well. Rather than congratulating and even *gasp* supporting a woman who is highlighting her talents in a national event, it all comes down to, like it always does, her physical appearance.

Those who made the comments said that it wasn’t about looks at all; that they were simply pointing out that she didn’t look as fit as she used to. This in itself is another huge issue in the media – that anything larger than a size eight is deemed ‘unhealthy’. Why can’t a woman have curves and still be healthy and fit? Medicine and common sense say that this is not only possible, but common, so what on earth does her size have to do with anything?

She qualified for the Olympics for goodness sakes. When comments were made about Huegill’s weight it was because he had given up swimming. I highly doubt the same comments would have been made if he too had been at the Olympics, even if he was a bit bigger than usual.

Jone’s was never tiny. She always had a curvaceous figure and has always been a fantastic swimmer and a brilliant role model. The media is simply looking for another way to bring women down – by making a big fuss about one unflattering photo and once more directing the public’s attention to what a woman looks like, rather than what she has achieved.

So now you have heard my two sides of the debate. Which side are you on?

(Image credit)

 

One thought on “the leisel jones weight debate

  1. Although I’m sick of the scapegoating for why Australian athletes haven’t performed well at the Olympics (like Susie O’Neill’s comments that they’re not trying as hard) – *of course* a swimmer’s height to weight ratio has a bearing on their capacity to swim medal-winning times at Olympic races.
    If she swims more quickly with more weight than she had when she had less weight then we should all admit we’re wrong. But if not then Kaylia 1 is entirely correct in saying, “To say that it is a body image issue detracts from the many instances when there ARE body image issues in the media.”

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