Friday, August 17, 2012
As the Olympic fever has settled, I've paused to reflect on this year's games.
By all appearances, the London Olympics celebrated the female athlete. More women competed in these games than any in history. More American women made the team than men, and they won their fair share of our nation's hefty gold medal count.
And by most appearances, the female athlete in London was prized for her strength, her endurance, her power, and speed. There were bodies of different shapes and sizes, but it seems we focused more on what these bodies were capable of doing, rather than how they looked.
Except that we had to hear about gold medalist Gabby Douglas's hair (occasionally at the expense of her gold-medal accomplishments and the records she set for American women and women of color).
And Holley Mangold's weight (often at the expense at how much weight she was lifting).
And one news story reported that the Brazilian women's soccer team were called "a bit heavy" by the coach of another team.
Can we continue to move beyond these inconsequential details in our appreciation of female athleticism?
A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that her trainer, with whom she had recently begun kickboxing, commanded her a few weeks ago to "Stop throwing punches like a girl!"
After the games, and in light of American, gold-medalist slugger Claressa Shield's victory, my friend wrote: "He needs to rethink that statement."
He does. Because women can be strong and fit and powerful and fast and flexible and tough and determined and fierce, and the shape of their bodies is nothing near as important as their prowess in sport.
Congrats Team USA.