Talk of uniforms and body politics in the Olympics has been covered throughout the feminist blogosphere (check here for a summary and here for a generally great post). As usual, the word has not spread so quickly throughout the news circuit. So imagine my surprise when I see a lengthy article about uniforms at the Olympics over on ABC News. (I'm telling you, these people are after my feminist heart-- first a story on men's skirts, then intersexuality, now this!)

The article touches on some of the sports with the biggest uniform differences - namely, beach volleyball and gymnastics - and tries to explain the functionality of the uniforms. Apparently, the athletes themselves are the ones that prefer to wear their respective uniforms. I thought it was interesting that they mentioned one woman, Melody Drnach, who wanted people to take a closer look at the disparities in the uniforms, but she is not an athlete herself.

This made me curious to find out how other athletes feel. It seems that a lot of the opinions we have about what we see women wear mostly come from a place outside of the actual sport. If it makes more sense for these women to wear these uniforms, then maybe we should be looking at how comfortable men are in their own uniforms. Or, perhaps, it should all be more of an individual choice rather than a standard in each sport. The article suggests that there is already not that much detail in regulations about uniforms themselves, so perhaps it's a possibility.

They also mentioned something my guy and I talked about a few days ago, which is that fashion also plays a role, with uniforms sometimes just changing over time to what people find appealing. Admittedly, I'd rather they analyze that a bit more, because to me it seems that part of the discussion needs to center around what "fashion" means in this case, but, there's only so much detail any article can have I suppose.

What do you all think about this? As spectators, are we over-analyzing the uniform deal? Or is there a deeper link here than the athletes themselves are recognizing? Also, do you think there is a connection between the fashion of the sport and pressures that come up (particularly eating disorders)?

(Cross-posted at The Feminist Underground.)


At Tue Aug 19, 01:20:00 AM smartlikeme said...

Interesting post and article...when the uniform rule initially went into effect many female volleyballers weren't happy at all...and maybe the attention women get from the uniforms is better than getting little or no attention at all?

I have no problem with women wearing that if that's what is most efficient for their sport. My guess is that if it's more efficient for them it would likely also be that way for the men, and the disparity is what is the problem, not the women's uniforms per se.

What about these for the male beach volleyball players?

At Tue Aug 19, 09:20:00 AM frau sally benz said...

I agree that the disparity is very interesting. If women find it comfortable to play in bikinis, then why wouldn't men feel comfortable playing in something like the shorts you have in the link? Although, I also noted that they mention men playing topless when they're playing outside of competition - perhaps a hint that this is a direction they want to go in as well.


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