When Will Olympic Judging of Women’s Bodies End?

Women earned their medals in London, but their looks still came into play

by Lesley Kennedy • MORE.com Reporter

All sorts of media outlets are calling the just-wrapped London Olympic Games the year of the woman, but have we really come that far? When it comes to judging a female athlete on her appearance, Time magazine says yes—and no.

On one hand, British Parliament member Jo Swinson, cofounder of the U.K. Campaign for Body Confidence, tells the magazine there’s an “honesty” about the way these women look.

“It’s very obvious that it takes them hours and hours of dedication and discipline to look the way they do,” she tells Time. “… It’s one of the times we actually get to see women without makeup on television.”

And athletes come in all shapes and sizes.

“You can see that a fit and healthy body can look different on different people,” Phillippa Diedrichs of the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England, Bristol, tells the magazine. “It doesn’t only look one way.”

True, but some female athletes—including four-time British swimming medalist Rebecca Adlington, Australian swimmer Leisel Jones, the Brazilian soccer team, British gold medal-winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis and British weight lifter Zoe Smith—were called everything from “whale” to “a bit heavy” to looking like a “bloke,” according to Time.

“There’s still a sort of pressure to be perfect in the Olympics,” psychologist Liz Jenkinson tells the magazine. “And it’s often the more conventional-looking sports men and women and those in the skimpiest outfits that get the most media coverage.”

Seems to us the “year of the woman” will be the year everyone can finally focus on how much butt women are kicking—and not what their butts look like while doing so.

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First Published Mon, 2012-08-13 00:58

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