the olympic women
We’ve all heard the speculation that was around before Leisel Jones, Australian Olympic swimmer, competed in the Games. Why, she’s gained weight! She’s not at her “best”. She surely won’t be able to compete because of, oh my god, all this horrible weight gain. What a mess, right?
Guess Leisel proved those shitty comments wrong, because in her heat, she came second. She used those speculations to motivate her to compete even harder.
But it just goes to show how much these types of comments follow women around everywhere, including all the way to the London Olympics. It’s not enough that the athletes are there to actually compete in their chosen sport, the sport they’ve been training for probably their entire lives; they also have to put up with comments on their bodies, their clothing and their fuckability. And that’s just the women.
I believe that the male athletes face this too, but nowhere near as much as the women. I don’t recall any male athlete having to prove they are biologically male, unlike South Africa’s Caster Semenya, who had to prove she was born a female.
Then there’s American weightlifter, Holley Mangold. At 323 pounds, she is definitely a fat woman. Who is, shockingly to some people, also an athlete. She isn’t competing in this year’s Olympics, but is looking forward to 2016. Hopefully, she will be able to get enough sponsors to go, unlike another fat weightlifter, Sarah Robles. At the time, she was ranked higher than any other American weightlifter, male or female; yet, she was struggling to make her rental payments and living in poverty. She believes that even if she wins medals, she won’t receive huge sponsorships.
She was quoted as saying, ‘You can get that sponsorship if you’re a super-built guy or a girl who looks good in a bikini. But not if you’re a girl who’s built like a guy’.
Despite the fact that she could lift weights higher than I’ve ever heard of in my life and is one of the strongest people I’ve read about, she could not get a sponsorship. Because of her looks, because of her weight. Because she didn’t fit that athlete “ideal”.
So, for something that is supposed to be focused purely on the amazing feats of athleticism, we still ascribe rigid body ideals to our women athletes, no matter the sport. And if they don’t fit within those ideals, well, they may not even make it to the Olympics and if they do, they’re going to struggle financially along the way and likely after. But if they were thin and conventionally pretty? Well, the world is their oyster.