WAG German gymnasts' outfits take on sexualisation in sport

Geoffrey Taucer

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On the one hand I like the intent. I fully support bucking tradition in favor of protecting athletes.

But I feel like it sorta misses the point. When gymnasts are sexualized and/or abused, the problem has nothing whatsoever to do with what they wear. Beyond being a simple PR thing, I don't think this actually does anything to stop athlete abuse.

If the athletes are more comfortable in bodysuits, they 100% should wear bodysuits. But I think characterizing this as "a stand against athlete abuse," as many people seem to be doing is.... I guess naive, for lack of a better word.
 
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Carabistouille

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I think this is one of the best things that happened to gymnastics in a long time and I fully support it. I am extremely proud of the German girls for not speaking out about the issue (which they did before Euros) but also for going for it at Euros.

I fully agree with what the German girls said, which is that they felt that the attire was too revealing, that they felt uncomfortable especially doing splits and that they feared it might take girls out of the sport, especially after puberty when girls start having periods. They also mentionned that they were a bit upset that so many revealing picture appeared when they googled themselves.

No girl or woman should have to care about wedgies, pubic hair showing or period accidents while doing sports.

Finally, I think it also shows the benefit of having older women doing gymnastics (Kim Bui is 32, Eli Seitz is 27, Sarah Voss is 22) : they can think for themselves, see the larger picture and take actual agency on what they are doing. I think they are awesome role models for the younger generations and I hope unitards become more common.
 

JessSyd

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I watched the AA final of the Euros, and it couldn’t have proved their point more.

For some reason, a lot of the bars were filmed right from the front. The live routines looked OK, but when they went for slow motion replays the broadcast zoomed right in. They were zooming in so we could see detail of grip etc, but in reality what the viewer got was slow motion close ups of some very young competitors. And during things like Tkatchevs, where pretty much all you could see was the straddle, it just looked awkward and inappropriate. I am sure the producers had no ill intent, but no competitor should have to worry about being broadcast that way and bodysuits (or, FIG, fitted shorts!) would go a long way towards helping that.

On the one hand I like the intent. I fully support bucking tradition in favor of protecting athletes.

But I feel like it sorta misses the point. When gymnasts are sexualized and/or abused, the problem has nothing whatsoever to do with what they wear. Beyond being a simple PR thing, I don't think this actually does anything to stop athlete abuse.

If the athletes are more comfortable in bodysuits, they 100% should wear bodysuits. But I think characterizing this as "a stand against athlete abuse," as many people seem to be doing is.... I guess naive, for lack of a better word.

I agree that it isn’t a move that is going to stop predators. But there is a vulnerability and, almost a form of emotional abuse, in having no choice but to wear less clothing than you are comfortable in. We see it all the time at the grassroots levels of the sport where teenage girls drop out in large numbers and while there are many factors behind this, one of them is definitely a level of discomfort with having to deal with having nothing but a leotard between them and the world. And we know that it is simply a matter of tradition, not safety or ’lines’ (the ’lines‘ looked absolutely amazing in the German bodysuits!).

Elite athletes just quietly accept it as part of the sport, and some are probably fine with it. But having an older, more empowered group of athletes acting on the issue so that future generations realise they have a choice can only be a good thing.
 

Soaring

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I would say this has less to do with sexualization and more to do with comfort. I'm not going to dance around the issue here. Girls shouldn't have to be required to shave and use tampons in a sport where there is other suitable attire that doesn't require it.

I grew up going to a gym that required a leotard and no shorts for practice. As someone with a very heavy period, it made some days incredibly stressful. Yes this rule did make us all more used to wearing something high cut when it came to our competition leotard. Yes I agree in some instances it makes some lines look slightly better and easier to see. But was it worth it?

Normalizing other options of safe gymnastics attire hurts no one.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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I completely agree that the rules and norms regarding competition attire need to be relaxed, so that athletes can choose what they feel comfortable wearing while training and competing.

I just don't like it when clothing is characterized as "taking on sexualization in sport," because it feeds into the idea that athletes are sexualized by what they wear. My disagreement is not at all with the athletes choosing to wear body suits; my disagreement is with media outlets that characterize it as taking a stand against sexualization of athletes.
 

flippin out

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Don’t get me wrong, I 100% support them wearing whatever they wish. My next comment has nothing to do with the German girls or their stance (if they feel more comfortable wearing long suits and feel strongly in their belief, I’m super happy that they have the option!)

....What I find ironic is the reaction of the gymternet! They love this and are equating it with a stand against sexual abuse (which i disagree with-regular leos do not invite assault) in the same breath that they adored all the completely backless (no way you could wear a bra) leos of some of the ncaa teams. I am against any Leo where you’re only option for any support whatsoever is duct tape ..but I seem to be one of very few having issues with that. And before I get flamed for stating that, yes—I know there are clear strap options, but those are clearly inferior on support and the straps still show...so many of those girls choose duct taping instead. I mean every girl needs support, and let’s face it, some gymnasts need substantial support!

the hypocrisy/irony of the gymternet—-they probably would love completely backless leos with full leggings.
 

Jenny

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Don’t get me wrong, I 100% support them wearing whatever they wish. My next comment has nothing to do with the German girls or their stance (if they feel more comfortable wearing long suits and feel strongly in their belief, I’m super happy that they have the option!)

....What I find ironic is the reaction of the gymternet! They love this and are equating it with a stand against sexual abuse (which i disagree with-regular leos do not invite assault) in the same breath that they adored all the completely backless (no way you could wear a bra) leos of some of the ncaa teams. I am against any Leo where you’re only option for any support whatsoever is duct tape ..but I seem to be one of very few having issues with that. And before I get flamed for stating that, yes—I know there are clear strap options, but those are clearly inferior on support and the straps still show...so many of those girls choose duct taping instead. I mean every girl needs support, and let’s face it, some gymnasts need substantial support!

the hypocrisy/irony of the gymternet—-they probably would love completely backless leos with full leggings.
agree 100% with all you say.
 

Aussie_coach

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I think the body suit looks great and is very stylish, great to have the option as it is so sad to see girls dropping out of the sport because they are self conscious about what they have to wear.

My girls would hate it though because they would complain that it is too hot. In most parts of Australia it wouldn’t be too popular.
 

Annikins

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I wish wearing shorts for competition would be permitted, and become widespread enough that it's a genuine choice. I really do think not allowing it causes unnecessary stress and does cause teenagers to drop out of the sport. I am already worrying about how my daughter will manage it without risking embarrassing leaks, and she is a few years off that point yet. In the meantime, even at her young age, she is always adjusting her leotard - I don't understand the rule - it's not safety because they mostly train in shorts anyway.
 

Carabistouille

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My girls would hate it though because they would complain that it is too hot. In most parts of Australia it wouldn’t be too popular.
Funny, I was thinking the other day that it could be a great option during winter because I find it difficult to stay warm (and warmed up) in between rotations. It would save me a great deal of trouble of competing one apparatus - having leggins and socks on - having them off - doing five minutes warm-up - having them back on - having them back off - competing o_O
Also I agree it wouldn't be nice during summer, long-sleeved leos are warm enough as it is...

By the way, I saw an interview with one of the German girls (I think Eli Seitz) in which she said that they train in shorts and would like to compete in them but since it's not allowed they chose to compete in unitards to draw attention to the issue.
 

txgymfan

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If judges can manage to see deductions for men's floor and vault, which seems to be the case, there is absolutely no rational reason to bar women from wearing shorts in competition.
Exactly! The same thing can be said for training. Tight shorts or leggings should not impede training whatsoever.
 

Cheryl

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Not to mention pommels, high bars and rings, where they wear pants. The girls outfits just look uncomfortable with the high leg line and not much fabric on the crotch. I guess it’s like thong underwear, you’re used to it, but it’s not comfy. The waxing bills must be high for the older girls.
 
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Geoffrey Taucer

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Not to mention pommels, high bars and rings, where they wear pants. The girls outfits just look uncomfortable with the high leg line and not much fabric on the crotch. I guess it’s like thong underwear, you’re used to it, but it’s not comfy. The waxing bills must be high for the older girls.
Slight tangent: I think this is one of the GIGANTIC list of problems that results from having "artistry" as part of the evaluation of routines.

The reason the crotch is so narrow and the hip cut is so high on many leos is because some people think it makes the legs look longer, which allegedly makes dance look more artistic. Having the nebulous idea of "artistry" figure into scoring leaves the door open for scores to be affected by body type and leotard cut. (And skin color, but that's a rant for another occasion)
 
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PreciousJ

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Slight tangent: I think this is one of the GIGANTIC list of problems that results from having "artistry" as part of the evaluation of routines.

The reason the crotch is so narrow and the hip cut is so high on many leos is because some people think it makes the legs look longer, which allegedly makes dance look more artistic. Having the nebulous idea of "artistry" figure into scoring leaves the door open for scores to be affected by body type and leotard cut. (And skin color, but that's a rant for another occasion)
Agreed. And there are professional DANCERS who wear less revealing attire than some artistic gymnasts, without impacting their "artistry" or dance skills....
 

Mom9024

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Slight tangent: I think this is one of the GIGANTIC list of problems that results from having "artistry" as part of the evaluation of routines.

The reason the crotch is so narrow and the hip cut is so high on many leos is because some people think it makes the legs look longer, which allegedly makes dance look more artistic. Having the nebulous idea of "artistry" figure into scoring leaves the door open for scores to be affected by body type and leotard cut. (And skin color, but that's a rant for another occasion)
This has me wondering...do some judges factor in the girls' outfits as part of artistic merit? How is 'artistry' defined for women's gymnastics? I can understand judges wanting to view legs for form, but it seems that girls can accomplish that wearing shorts or tights.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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How is 'artistry' defined for women's gymnastics?

It isn't. That's the problem. Which means it's up to judges to decide, and coaches and athletes have to try to predict what the judges will like and strive for this nebulous idea of artistry without any solid objective basis.

I've heard of judges deducting because they didn't like the choice of music, because the athlete wasn't sufficiently elegant getting onto/off of the floor, (despite the fact that they shouldn't be deducting for anything that happens outside of the routine itself), and other such absurdities.

To illustrate some of the problems this causes, let's think about gymnasts who are typically described as "elegant" and "artistic," versus gymnasts that are described as "powerful." Think about gymnasts who were always described as being very artistic. Nastia Liukin, Svetlana Khorkina, etc. With no exceptions that I'm aware of, elite gymnasts with a reputation for artistry always have very long, lean body types. They're also almost always white (perhaps occasionally Asian, but even this is rare.)

Thicker, stockier gymnasts like Shawn Johnson are rarely if ever described as "artistic," no matter how technically precise they may be. Black gymnasts are rarely if ever described as "artistic." This is just how it goes in gymnastics media, and how it has gone for as long as I can remember. It would be ludicrous to assume judges to be immune to these biases.

Whatever "artistry" might mean in the abstract, in practice it's an open door for judges to give or deduct points for little reason beyond "because they feel like it," which inevitably means that subconscious biases will affect scores.

And so you have leotards designed to make the athlete's legs look longer, or make their waists look narrower, and so on.

The sport would, in my opinion, be considerably better off if all judging criteria were objectively defined.

(I may end up splitting this post off into a separate thread depending on how responses go, because all this is only tangentially related to the OP)
 
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