Tag Archives: Sports Illustrated

Sexing Up Female Atheletes

15 May

The following is a throwback post (#tbp) from 2008 when I was a content writer for Youthnoise.org (now Mobilize.org).

jenny adams

With all the hoopla (like this and this) surrounding the 2008 Olympic games, how could I not add my own little one-cent to the blogosphere hoopla as sort of a week ending round up.


Okay, so Gawker dedicated a post this week to the top 25 Olympic Hotties ranging from U.S. swimmer Amanda Beard to U.S. wrestler TC Dantzler.  Profiling “hot” Olympic athletes in mainstream media is nothing new, it’s actually great for sponsorship and yep, it’s great for business.

In 2004, my fellow track and field teammate at the University of Houston, Jenny Adams, was featured on the cover of FHM’s Olympic Special Issue (incidentally, Jenny didn’t qualify for the Olympics that year which sucked because I was rooting for her hardcore).


Jenny Adams (hey girl!)

Seeing as how most Olympic athletes aren’t necessarily rolling in the NBA or MLB dough, arguably these athletes have to take advantage of what they can during the Olympic season.

Although, I’m not quite sure how I feel about (what appears to be) the objectification of fe/male bodies in mainstream media.  (Yes, I’m putting that MA degree in Women’s Studies to use!).  I wouldn’t be “socially conscious” if I didn’t consider the potentially damaging image these athletes are portraying, or rather the image we, the folks, are buying into.

Am I over reacting?

Before answering, consider this question: what does Amanda Beard’s boobs have to do with her impressive seven Olympic medal performances? 

I don’t necessarily have an issue with homegirl covering FHM (she’s a grown woman so more power to her), but I wonder if sexualizing Olympic athletes is the way to go right now, especially with so many controversies surrounding human rights’ issues in Bejing, etc. And honestly, do we really need our top world athletes contributing to a sexually obsessed, and repressed, society???

Granted, escapism, in the form of Canadian diver Alexandre Despatie six pack, is refreshing especially during a time when everything else from the economy to foreign policy is in the dumps.  And don’t get me wrong; I’m down for the eye-candy once in awhile.  I can also get down with sex-positive feminism, but I just wonder what are we actually celebrating with these images: human agility and athletic performance or an athlete’s butt-cheeks in the foreground of photograph with the phrase ‘Golden Girls’ hanging below?

You get the point.

I remember growing up idolizing Florence Griffith Joyner in all her flamboyant outfits and long-neon-colored fingernails. I never understood Flo Jo’s image as ‘sexualized’ in any way (maybe that’s because I didn’t know what sexualized meant at the ripe old age of ten).  I was too focused on her superhuman ability to run a 100-meter dash in those eclectic outfits she wore.

(Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m not going to get into the steroid controversy right now).

Point is, I understand that sexing-up athletes is nothing new, and the images of these “hotties” pales in comparison to some of the other sexualized images we see everyday via idiot box.

But I still can’t help but wonder what’s the point.

Body By The Magazine?

11 Jun


From YouthNoise.com

What’s the best way to compete against a widely popular sports magazine that showcases half naked bodies (eh-hem Sports Illustrated)?  Showcase female and male athletes engaging in a sporting activity while in the nude and call it the “Body Issue.”

Simple enough, I guess.

This idea appears to be the marketing strategy for ESPN’s The Magazine with its first “Body Issue” hitting newsstands this fall.  No doubt The Magazine will be competing with one of the most successful sports magazine on the shelf.  So while it might seem like a competitive ploy to feature naked athletes for profits and perhaps bragging rights over SI, The Magazine’s editor Gary Belsky insists that “The magazine won’t do anything that would compromise ESPN and Disney brands [The Magazine’s parent company].”

The idea, see, is to “use equipment and pads . . . to obscure body parts” so that, in the very least, the photos won’t tread soft porn territory.

Well, call me curious Georgia then because a gal like me is eager to see how the editors and photographers might strategically place a basketball on, say, a body like Dwight Howard’s.  Yaozahs!

Dwight 37-4

There’s no arguing that back when humans were throwing rocks as shot puts, athletic bodies were, in and of themselves, considered masterpieces of art.  Dodai over a Jezebel, points out that the Ancient Greeks participated in sport while nude (although, while men might have participated in sports, it’s been noted that women were forbidden to compete in the ancient Olympics and if they did ‘play’ a sport they might’ve worn something like this).

But perhaps it’s not so much the idea of naked bodies gallivanting around while engaging in sport that’s shocking, but rather the titillation translating into profits that might rub folks the wrong way.

Only time will tell (October 19th, to be exact) if the “Body Issue” will prove to be a modern example of dignified art through sport or just another excuse to sneak a peak at Amanda Beard’s boobs.

Feature photo courtesy of ESPN “The Magazine”/Clint Clemens