Sportswomen even today are battling for dress code conventions, but they have started to undisguisedly oppose these conventions. Lately Germany’s female gymnasts wore full-body suits in women’s qualification at the Olympics as they continued their stance against the sexualization of their sport. If we look back to 1910, women’s sporting outfits have been made more for looks than functionality. Women’s golf, tennis, for example, used to have a tight-fitting long skirt that were uncomfortable and kind of ill-fitted for a sports setting, according to. Since then, severe changes have been brought to the uniforms, making them more adjustable and breathable for the athletes. In 2021 women in professional games and sports still experience misogynism and sexualization because of their uniforms. This is such a practice that continues to thrive even in this era.
Every gymnast loves the sport, but the traditional competition uniform? Maybe not so much. Ever since gymnastics was included in the history of the Olympics, female gymnasts have been seen performing on the floor wearing bikini cuts and tight clothes in tradition. It’s good to say, gymnastics is not the only sports category where contestants can be seen in this dress. There are many categories where it is customary to participate in such clothes. But at the Tokyo Olympics, German gymnasts made a statement against the sexualization of their sport by wearing conventional full-body leotards. The women were dressed in the outfits for their qualification competition in the 2020 Olympics for the first time. This is how they, as role models, started walking against the current practice.
During a game in the Euro 2021 tournament the Norwegian women’s beach handball team was fined 150 euros per player for refusing to play in bikini bottoms that was their authorized outfit. But the outfits worn by the German gymnasts compiled with international regulations. Now the question is why the German gymnasts wore leotards.
They did not wear leotards for cultural or religious reasons. Instead, the women wore that kind of outfits to make a statement against the sexualization in gymnastics that they just wanted to show that every woman, everybody should decide what to wear. They dressed in full-body suits opposed to sex-appealing bikini-cut outfits to popularize the game. This stance was taken by them as a protest against the sexualization of women in their sport. Since the imprisonment of Larry Nassar, a former doctor in the American gymnastics team, Tokyo Olympics 2021 is the first Olympic. His crime was to assault more than 100 athletes including superstar Simone Biles. So, the German female gymnastic team just wanted to become role models and the team’s actions drew approbation from their fellow athletes. Their coaches were also very much into it who wanted the gymnasts to feel the most confident and comfortable in any case. Their aim was to present themselves aesthetically, without feeling uncomfortable.
In order to attract men, women are introduced in advertisements also as a reflection of sex, as the first task of a woman is to attract men, so that it is the last hope of a man to gain male satisfaction. Corporate houses are decorated with products using female beauty or sex. Mary Wollstonecraft is considered to be the main thinker among modern feminists. In her book “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”, she has tried to highlight women inequalities in society. Her main aim was to remove social inequalities against women and the misconceptions of the traditional education system for teenage girls. She believed that human characteristic moral qualities are the main characteristics of human being as a man or a woman. It is not at all respectable for women to attract men through form and expect love offerings and courtesy on the part of men. Due to wrong social norms, girls are mainly taught personal beautification. In fact, there is a competition among women about beauty. The use of female beauty in advertising, sports and other fields highlights the low-level position of women. Even after a long time from the era of Wollstonecraft, we have not been able to get rid of such a low state even today.
Here’s another important thing: Gender Stereotyping. According to which there may be certain ideas or beliefs about men and women that may be true, or may not be. There are more or less numerous examples of earth-like gender stereotyping. For example, men must be self-sufficient, successful, hardworking, energetic, powerful, ruler and creative. On the other hand, women are useless, stupid, exploited, men’s servants, women are born to entertain men, women without men are worthless, etc. Even besides men, women, who are underdeveloped and uneducated, tend to think of themselves as inferior to men. And the capitalist media has taken the responsibility of its strong presence in various spheres of society and its spread, dominance. The representation of women as “eye candy” for men (ignoring their education, talent, performance, values, industrial awareness) or the presentation of women as weak, appealing, and peaceful to men’s minds in advertisement, sports and other sectors is derogatory to women.
In this approach, some people mention the purpose that these tight outfits attract people to the women, and thus they stay for the game. But is that basically the kind of attention these athletes want? To be seen not for her ability initially, except for their body? These uniforms might be bringing the illusive sort of attention these athletes want to bring back their sport, highlighting the false aspects people should enjoy about their playing. And is that this also what we would like to point out to the young women watching these athletes play? That you’ll only be seen first for your body than for what you set all of your time, effort, and keenness into? Women’s sporting uniforms have come an extended way since the 1910s but they still have a long way to move forward.
Although women’s sporting presentation and performances have been obstructed and sexualized historically, sportswomen are finally calling the shots in terms of how their bodies are regulated through what they wear. Perhaps now we can concentrate on their athleticism and contribution to sport. Women being judged on their perceived femininity rather than their ability is a symptom of a bigger problem. But the appearance and participation of women in all walks of life are encouraged by this kind of exemplary stand by the German women gymnast team. They will remain as role models for other athletes and women to combat sexist standards that echo what they are already dealing with is not the only thing that can turn girls away. A change in culture needs to happen which has already been started to be made by the German women gymnast team.