Sports are relevant and brings light to this sexist modern society. When the Sports Illustrated Bikini Issue comes out on the stands, I found it interesting how some of the models are women who are displayed with minimal or no clothing. On one issue, I saw that Natalie Coughlin is displayed naked surrounded by water. In no way does a swimmer swim naked, in fact, the athlete typically races in a suit that covers most of their body. This suit is displayed as covering the torso and going down to the knees. Yes, it is form-fitting, but it cannot be characterized as nude. This can be followed up with the example from the movie “A League of Their Own.” The women in the movie are scouted to try out to be baseball players. What they find out upon making it into the league is that they must wear dresses to maintain the feminine ideal. They are also asked to shoot an advertisement that displays their beauty and how they are ladies along with attending manners classes because the league felt that the women may lose their femininity.
But why is this such an issue, that women must be shown in certain ways to maintain their femininty in the sports world? Sexualizing women is typical with fashion magazines like Cosmopolitan, but why must this carry over to sports? Why are women unable to be displayed as strong and powerful, just like the men are? Society believes that women cannot withstand the stress of certain sports or are unable to go certain distances. This is brought up by FINA who will not change the Olympic events to include the 1500m freestyle for the women, following the past belief that women would be unable to compete in that distance because of the toll it would take on her body. The crazy thing about that is that it has become a mockery each time Katie Ledecky steps up onto the blocks. She has become known to break a world record consistently from the 400m to the 1500m freestyles. Her times in the 1500m freestyle would rank her in the Top 20 for the United States for boys. Simply put, it is the limits that society puts on what the female body can and cannot do that causes different rules for contact sports and different distances in racing. Sexualizing the female body seems to be society’s way of telling women that they must be pretty and athletic and that it should be balanced. If a woman is built too strongly, she is not seen as attractive and this can cause issues with attempting to get endorsements. Women are faced with many trials and tribulations with competing in the sports world and with living in modern society.