The Olympic Games is one of the most watched sporting events in the modern era. The games provide a highly publicized international stage where the competitors are representatives of their country. Media outlets present a visible discourse in the way male and female representatives are portrayed (Messner, Duncan, Jensen. 1993). While male athletes are applauded for their strength, agility and skill, female athletes are sexualized. From the midriff baring bikinis of beach volleyball to the leggy leotards of gymnastics, women's entertainment value stems from the sexualization of their bodies instead of their athletic abilities (Kane, M. J. 1996). While male uniforms most often favor longer shorts and baggy t-shirts, female uniforms usually consist of tight-fitting leotards, spandex, short dresses, or skirts. In addition to providing entertainment value, these uniforms ensure that female athletes adhere to societal norms regarding what a woman "should" look like. Despite engaging in the exact same physical activity as their male counterparts, female athletes are expected to appear feminine. On the world's most public stage, these female athletes are treated more as models than fierce competitors.
Smoot, Rachel N.
"Olympic Athletes or Beauty Queens? The Sexualization of Female Athletes,"
Augsburg Honors Review: Vol. 10
, Article 9.
Available at: https://idun.augsburg.edu/honors_review/vol10/iss1/9