Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Baring It All

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
Revealed midriffs, spandex stretched thinner than plastic wrap, shorts that are barely an inch below the buttocks. They swing their rackets, chip their balls, and pump their legs, while sponsors nod with silent approval.

“It’s definitely degrading,” comments Melissa, a freshman Junior Varsity track and field runner. “But you know what they say. Sex sells.”

Women’s sports attire isn’t just about efficiency anymore, and it’s pretty hard to miss. The contrast between men’s sportswear and women’s uniforms is impossible to ignore: Whether it’s soccer, volleyball, or field hockey, female sports uniforms commonly show more skin in comparison to men’s sports uniforms. While men across the country don their jerseys and shorts, women are asked to wear it tighter, shorter, smaller, sexier. Female tennis players perform in narrow skirts and breast-baring jersey tanks, while female beach volleyball players are clad in bikinis. Meanwhile, men wear looser tank tops and baggier shorts while playing tennis, volleyball, and soccer. In most cases, the revealing clothing does not in any way improve women’s performance in sports. In fact, it can do just the opposite.

“It’s irritating,” confirms Allegra, while mentioning the purple nylon miniskirts assigned to the field hockey team. The skirts are inches above the knee and flappy, hindering movement and forcing the team to wear additional shorts beneath skirt, to prevent the skirt from revealing too much. This discomfort and constant irritation could be easily alleviated, if the uniforms were to be replaced with the boys’ style mesh shorts, allowing more liberal movement.

“Yeah, it’s pretty mind-boggling. Why shouldn’t we be able to wear what the guys do? What’s the point of wearing a skirt when you’re trying to run around and bend over and just trying to win? It’s just one more thing to worry about,” says another high school athlete. And while some uniforms are considered streamline and aerodynamic, aiding the athlete in events such as short distance running, there is definitely an element of exploitation.

Through magazines, commercials, advertisements and other forms of media exposure, female athletes often utilize their sexuality as an asset in order to gain popularity in the eyes of fans. The president of Burns Sports explains that media attention for athletes is often “about appearance and beauty,” as if the athletes are livestock to be marketed and auctioned to sponsoring companies. Likewise, the pressure for sufficient fan attention and widespread media fame can pressure female athletes into posing for tabloids and sporting inch-long shorts, cut-off tank tops, ruffled miniskirts, and two-piece swim suits.

In a one controversial statement, FIFA president Sepp Blatter prompted female soccer players to don “more feminine uniforms” and “tighter shorts” in a stunt to encourage viewer interest and magnetize potential new sponsors. For many athletes, the disrespectful exploitation “definitely sets feminism back many years.”

Still, opinions vary. According to one student, while women should excel “based on talent and performance,” rather than advertised sexuality and bared body parts, sophomore Cross Country runner Alice still insists that “if you’ve got it, flaunt it. We shouldn’t really be threatened by women’s bodies.”




Join the Discussion


This article has 1 comment. Post your own!

OneProzacADayThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
yesterday at 2:55 pm:
As a former volleyball player, I can verify that it is degrading. It is also alienating when you are the only 12 year old on the team who wore shorts to practice instead of spandex, like I'm the outcast because a) spandex is expensive and b) it was an unspoken rule that we wore spandex because we were one year older. Then it's total hypocrisy when we get called sluts for wearing the required uniform. gahhh I could go on for hours about this but your essay is spot on, and I wish I could h... (more »)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback