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Thursday, May 19, 2022

how ladies athletes are taking management of their sporting outfits


Ladies’s costume codes in sport are decided by “traditions” which might be each outdated and gendered. Their outfits have lengthy tried to reconcile notions of “femininity” with these of “athleticism”, however this course of has turned ladies into objects to be admired relatively than being valued for his or her sporting abilities.

Nonetheless, there may be current rebel within the ranks. Slowly, feminine athletes are pushing again on outdated uniform laws and demanding that athleticism be prioritised over aesthetics.

An extended historical past of discomfort

Charlotte Cooper turned the primary feminine Olympic champion in Paris, 1900—the primary Video games in Paris that ladies had been allowed to participate in. (©IOC)

The place now the emphasis appears to be on revealing ladies’s our bodies, the alternative was as soon as the case. Within the nineteenth century, when upper-middle-class ladies had been ultimately permitted to have interaction in video games similar to garden tennis, their apparel was suitably “female”, modest and designed to draw a possible husband relatively than improve their athleticism. No doubt, their corsets and full-length attire would have severely restricted their capability to lunge and leap throughout the court docket in the best way that as we speak’s feminine tennis gamers do.

By the flip of the twentieth century, bodily training started to contribute to the reform of feminine clothes for bodily actions. The gymslip and tunic launched the physique from restraining clothes similar to corsets and bodices.

Whereas this might sound progressive, the barrel form of the brand new uniform fastidiously hid younger ladies’s our bodies. Any indicators of growing sexuality had been successfully camouflaged, preserving their modesty for future maternal roles in society.

Possibly it’s time for the leotard to take a step again.

Ladies nonetheless battling conventions

Sportswomen of as we speak are nonetheless navigating costume code conventions, however they’re starting to overtly oppose them. Simply this month, the Norwegian ladies’s seashore handball crew was fined for “improper clothes” in the course of the European Championships in Bulgaria. This was as a result of they had been taking part in in shorts, versus the required skimpy bikini bottoms, which ought to be “an in depth match and minimize on an upward angle towards the highest of the leg” and have a most aspect width of 10cm, based on the 2014 Worldwide Handball Federation laws.

The lads’s seashore handball groups have at all times been permitted to put on shorts. After unsuccessfully petitioning to switch the bikini bottoms with shorts, the Norwegian ladies’s crew took issues into their very own fingers after they reached the bronze medal sport towards Spain. Regardless of being threatened with a high quality or disqualification by the European Handball Federation, they opted to make a press release and put on thigh-length elastic shorts.

This resulted in a crew high quality of 1,500 euros (A$2,393). The Norwegian federation has agreed to pay the high quality on behalf of the gamers in a show of help. https://www.youtube.com/embed/fLfQO9ZgQqo?wmode=clear&begin=0

There have been comparable costume code protests by feminine athletes on the European Creative Gymnastics Championships in Switzerland this yr. German gymnasts determined to take a stand towards their sexualisation, donning full-body fits. All of it started with Sarah Voss’s efficiency, which was promptly adopted by two of her teammates.

The choice to cowl their whole physique was a premeditated one. It acquired full help from the German federation (DTB), which suggested that feminine athletes ought to at all times really feel snug of their attire.

The complete-body swimsuit, though hardly ever seen in ladies’s aggressive gymnastics (except there are spiritual causes for carrying it), truly complies with the Worldwide Gymnastics Federation (FIG) guidelines. Rivals are allowed to put on a “unitard (one-piece leotard with full-length legs – hip to ankle)”, so long as it’s “of chic design”. https://www.youtube.com/embed/Zn4u54SAAuk?wmode=clear&begin=0

Flexibility is due to this fact obvious in some feminine sporting costume codes, however actually not in all. Voss and her crew embraced the chance to compete as elite athletes in a uniform that greatest complemented their bodily prowess.

Their proper to decide on what they wore little doubt helped them really feel extra comfortable when performing. It ought to be famous that gymnastics has been a sport riddled with abuse scandals.


Learn extra: The Tokyo Olympics are alleged to be a ‘landmark in gender equality’ — are the Video games actually a win for ladies?


Altering the main target to sporting prowess

Each the handball and gymnastics examples spotlight how ladies, as insiders throughout the establishment of sport, are starting to problem how their our bodies are introduced and policed by sport federations.

This paves the best way for extra sportswomen to oppose costume codes which might be primarily based on archaic concepts of what ladies ought to appear like, usually by way of the eyes of males.

Though ladies’s sporting performances have been traditionally hampered and sexualised, sportswomen are lastly calling the pictures by way of how their our bodies are regulated by way of what they put on.

Maybe now we will concentrate on their athleticism and contribution to sport.


Rachael Jefferson-Buchanan, Lecturer in human motion research (well being and PE), Artistic Arts, Charles Sturt College

This text is republished from The Dialog beneath a Artistic Commons license. Learn the authentic article.



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