I’m from the cusp of the generation where nice girls don’t call boys or text them 400 times a day, just shy of the generation where girls got down and dirty on the playing field. I’m an independent, feisty, game-for-just-about-anything kind of woman. In my younger days, I preferred to play tennis with men because it was a faster, more direct challenge. I’ve always enjoyed being physically active and I’m pretty sure you won’t think me a prude, fainting away at the sight of skin. But I do think it’s time to redesign the bathing suits of female Olympic competitors.
There are several reasons for this. First is that Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue mentality that prevails whenever women and men’s sports mix — luscious babes on the cover for the “special” issue. Let’s call a spade a spade. It’s the “Wannabe” substitute for guys whose wives and/or girlfriends won’t let them keep Playboy and Penthouse magazines under the mattress — they settle for a poor sportsman’s imitation to hold in their hot little hands. It’s actually an insult to any serious female athelete who trains hard and makes the sacrifices to be a solid competitor.
Before you think I am not above using my feminine wiles to win a tennis match, let me assure you I learned just how affectively I could distract male opponents with a tank top and some shorts. I had the good sense to develop my corner shots, but I never mastered the net, so being girly got me the opportunity to make the shots I could make. I’m all for women being women and being winners.
But those Olympic bathing suits? They are a disaster on several levels. Take the diving championships. How many of those women sported wedgies as they exited the pool? Every cameraman’s hot dream shot seemed to be the fannies of these women as they headed for the dipping pool. Not on their faces. Not on their shoulders. I saw more cheeks than I cared to see, and I’m not talking about faces.
But what about the women’s beach volleyball tournament? Who set the rule that says those agile women must wear the skimpiest bikinis this side of Cozumel? When you think about what it takes to make those shots and you think about the outfits on the female badminton teams, can it really be justified as necessary? How many times do you really want to watch some young athlete pick her suit bottom out of her fanny crack? What’s next? The thong? I understand that beach volleyball was developed on a beach, but is there any legitimate reason why the women must wear bikinis? Personally, I think they would be better able to move in a onesie. Having run in stretchy leggings and shorts that breath, I can tell you it’s a very freeing experience to not think about what you have on and just focus on what you’re doing. The first time someone recommended the skimpy leggings, I thought there was no way I would put myself into a pair, but once I did, I loved how they felt and made me feel. No pinching, no binding, no wedgies….
The best reason for changing the bathing suits of the female Olympians? Did you hear about what happened during the female water polo matches? You think little girls are sugar and spice and everything nice? Think again. Those women can be ruthless. There’s a whole lot of bathing suit grabbing that goes on underwater. The idea is to yank off the suit, so your competitor can’t surface. Imagine trying to make a shot with one hand while holding up your suit with the other. Depending upon how much of your suit is no longer in place, you could spend a lot of time underwater.
I did actually consider recommending the Miracle suit, that elasticized marvel of flesh-slimming fabric, as a more appropriate choice for the water polo crowd, but then I remembered how hard it is to pull it up once it goes down. Any woman whose breasts are bared by an opponent is actually 10 times more likely to drown while trying to cover up, so the Miracle suit becomes a safety issue in water polo.
But what about the female athlete who decides to just keep playing after an opponent pulls her suit down? It happened during a match between America and Spain. Apparently, if the refs don’t see what’s going on under the surface, they can’t blow the whistle. Meanwhile, the cameramen got quite an eyeful in their lenses and passed it along to the audience. Brings new meaning to the phrase “tit-illating”. You can’t really call it a wardrobe malfunction when more than one player is exposed.
What would happen to the water polo game if the suits weren’t yank-able, if the women had to play harder, not sleazier? What if the shots on the surface mattered more than the flashing underwater? Would that be more representative of their actual skill? What self-respecting woman wants to be known as the fastest hand under the water, instead of the fastest shot-taker above?
I noticed some of the men are now wearing a longer version of the infamous Speedo, and I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t happen if it didn’t provide a benefit to the swimmers. Maybe longer swimsuit would also be better for female swimmers. Wouldn’t it be nice if the female competitors wore suits that were less revealing of their physical anatomy and more revealing of their actual prowess? Not every woman wants to be the sex kitten of the swim set. Sure, it’s nice when men find you attractive, but even sweeter when you’re as fast as greased lightning and as strong as a jungle cat. Isn’t that what we should be celebrating in our female athletes?
When I look at the female track and field competitors, the one thing that really stands out is the beauty of their bodies as they move. They’re not constantly tugging their tiny shorts down and their tank tops fit appropriately. Several of them sport manicured fingernails, makeup, and other feminine touches, but those women are there to win. They’re not there to give a peep show to the world. They’re there to run like the wind, toss that javelin into the sky, and jump that ravine like nobody’s business.
And what of those female competitors from countries where modesty is encouraged, or in some cases, required? Should we insist they wear the tiny bathing suits in order to participate? Do we eliminate them from competition because they would have to reveal too much skin? Are we preventing champions from emerging because we insist on the itty-bitty and teeny-weeny? On the one hand, I understand that too much fabric is dangerous to a swimmer, and the drag of the weight is a serious record-killer. It’s kind of hard to dash across a pool when you’re sporting heavy cloth water wings. But what if there were fabrics that weigh next to nothing, even when wet, and create little drag. Would we have the chance to see more qualified female athletes compete?
The Olympics will roll around in another four years, so that gives designers plenty of time to roll out the fabrics and try out new designs. Give our female athletes a say in what they wear. Let them consider what works and what distracts. Let them test out their performance times in different styles, different fabrics, different kinds of suits. Find out if color can energize a female swimmer. I’m all for hot pink, turquoise, and even lime green. Let’s give the Olympian woman the chance to win fair and square, because they have the chops to compete, not because they’re the fluff on the side, there to flash skin and boobies for a predominantly male audience.