Sunday, August 17, 2008

Did You See the Body on that Woman?

I find it amusing when people in the media seem to get very anxious over the topic of what women athletes wear while playing sports during The Olympics. 

How many inches of text have been devoted to the beach volleyball women's bikinis and their ilk every four years? There's also much written about the tendency for top female athletes to gleefully strip off their uniforms to pose in men's magazines. I have a few thoughts on that that topic: 

First, beach volleyball is a "sport" that I will never take seriously or ever want to watch.

Second, although I think an accomplished female athlete posing nude or near nude in a wank mag is tasteless (images of Dana Patrick's truly tasteless shots on the hood of a car come to mind,) I really don't care what someone else is doing with her body. 

Third, I wonder why so much ink is devoted to beach volleyball uniforms when track & field stars have been wearing variations on the same outfit for years. I really do believe that the mindset of the general populace is that dark skin can't be sexualized so it doesn't matter how much skin is exposed in track (unless the track star in question is Amy Acuff, the white high jumper who has also posed in men's mags.) 

One thing that really stuck with me from my youth was something an elementary school teacher of mine told our 2nd grade class. She brought in stacks of National Geographic magazines for some project and later told some of the kids who were giggling over the nude photos that they shouldn't laugh because that kind of skin can't be naked which made everyone shut up for a moment. It was one of those times that I got a twisted feeling in my stomach but didn't really know why.

Now, I confess to being a body gawker myself. I am simply amazed at the beauty of the female athlete's bodies and the weeks following the Olympics usually find me dusting off my running shoes in pursuit of something a mid-section that doesn't jiggle. Do I want to see black athletes in magazine like FHM or Maxim, not really but I do wish that in discussions of enviable celebrity bodies that take place in black media, that these super heroines would come up more than Halle or Buffie the Body.

Pic: Daylife


Anonymous said...

I am definitely one of those people who dislikes the bikinis that beach volleyball players wear. I don't think it has so much to do with dark skin not being related to sexiness (I think the Williams sisters are two great examples of sexy athletic women) and sometimes I feel that that kind of thinking is looking for issues where there are none. In my opinion, I just find the bikinis to be ill-fitting and unflattering. I can't even count how many times I have seen the VB players pick their wedgies in the middle of a game. It just seems to me that someone could get them better suits. There is also that whole issue of objectifying women while they just prance in the sand, whereas the track stars truly embody athleticism and endurance.

Natasha Vincent said...

Despite a costly journalism degree in which the ink spells out something about specializing in print media and public affairs, I have very little interaction anymore with zines, papers and the like.

They have very little to share with me about empowerment and my otherwise being in the world.

My subscription to Black Enterprise will stand for a while though. Still thinking about Vixen.

This post, therefore, is filled with a lot of confusion for me. For you as well, it seems.

Don't objectify women...except for the occasional black one here and there

Even I was speechless when I heard my 7-year-old daughter notice this morning that all the 100M finalists were Black. "All the 100M men too, babe."

"Oh," she said flatly.

Dare I reply with "that's just one of the sports that we're good at?" when I'm sending her off to more swimming this fall to prep for rowing next Spring (decided way before Olympic fever set in, BTW)?

We're all to be forgiven for the confusion. I mean, I'm happy the trackers, both male and female, all wear tight, barely existent clothing. Those leg muscles and tendons are to be glorified!

Now, after watching all that running, I think we all need a long soak in a sitz bath of either or - or both - to rejuvenate and get our minds right.

Chrissy said...

What about Flo Jo? She was well known for her track& field outfits.

Beautifully.Conjured.Up said...

I understand where you are coming from. When it comes to female athletes, I feel as though the Black women physique isn't being reconized as much as White women's. The only time our physique is being reconized is when our butts are abnormally large or slightly curvy as Halle's. As someone who used to run track, I can respect the beauty of an athlete's body, esp. a Black woman's, even if the media doesn't.