Another day, another stupid effing “challenge” on social media where people show how skinny they are by holding up a piece of A4 paper in front of their waists. If your waist disappears behind the piece of paper when you hold it portrait in front of your torso, congratulations, you’ve passed the challenge.
Sometimes I really, truly despair.
This is yet another fad (after the “Belly Button Challenge” and “Clavicle Challenge”) to emerge out of China, and it’s come at a time where yet again there seems to be a lot of unreasonable focus on women and their bodies and reputations (because the focus is more on women as the above photo shows – good luck finding the guy whose self worth is valued by how he looks in a crop top).
Take for example the recent furore around Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley, when the following image was posted to Instagram:
When I first heard about this I was genuinely confused by the whole thing. I have never viewed Daisy as having an unrealistic body type. Since when did being strong and fit become something people viewed as a bad example? Understandably Daisy felt somewhat attacked about the whole thing and felt she had to defend herself online. A little further digging on the matter showed that the image had been lifted from a satirical cartoon strip and been taken completely out of context. But satire exists to mock and ridicule wider issues in society – and how often has the “real women have curves” argument been thrown across the body battleground? All women are real, regardless of shape and size. It really is very, VERY simple.
Lastly, on a slightly different topic, we’ve had Maria Sharapova come out and admit that she tested positive for Meldonium, a drug that was added to the banned list on the 1st January this year. Whether she cheated by knowingly taking a banned substance or whether she showed negligence by taking it without knowing it had been banned, her reputation and career are currently in a bad way. The thing that has struck me about her case though, is Nike’s attitude to it. Don’t get me wrong – if one of your athletes has taken a banned, performance enhancing substance, by all means you should walk away from them.
So how does that explain their relationship with Justin Gatlin? What gives Nike? Gatlin has been completely unrepentant about his past transgressions, so why one rule for the male athlete and another for the female?
This has been a bit of a brain dump of a post so far. I think I’ve just felt so frustrated by the media in the last few weeks (which is nothing new really) and the way there is ALWAYS so much focus on how women look. When Chris Hemsworth beefs up for the Thor films, do you ever hear even a sniff of “what a terrible example! I can’t live up to that!”? Or does everyone gape in awe at his commitment to lifting weights and chugging protein shakes?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m part of the problem by even talking about these things in the first place. Or maybe I’m just too idealistic by wanting women to be valued by their achievements rather than their looks. But is it really too much to ask for the Women’s Varsity Rugby Match to be shown on BBC2 like the men’s was rather than online only (especially as Cambridge’s thrashing of Oxford led to a incredibly exciting match)? Or to focus more on women like Gee Purdy, Bella Collins, Lauren Morton and Olivia Bolesworth who became the youngest and fastest all female crew of four to row across the Atlantic Ocean? Or Paralympian Jordanne Whiley, who has 7 grand slam tennis victories under her belt? These are the things we should be sharing on social media, not the utter, UTTER bollocks that makes young girls think that the size of their waist is all that matters, or that men will always be treated differently in the same scenario. That has to change.
Although when a search for “smart female sportswomen” comes up with this as the top three hits – I have to wonder if it’s too big a battle:
Eff you internet. I may only be a tiny blogger who can only really rely on my mum reading every single post I write (love you!) but I’m still going to play my part by always celebrating inspirational sportswomen whose minds and bodies are leading them to achieve greatness.
4 thoughts on “The Body Battleground”
Not sure if I fully agree. I suspect just as many men get banned than women. Also with Gatlin the world has moved on since he did it. We have (quite rightly) got tougher on drugs cheats. So not easy to compare something from 10-15 years ago compared to today.
Also, Men also have image concerns. I struggle to find a top that “hides” my belly – you could argue that I shouldn’t have to. Or that it’s in my head.
Also, there is nothing wrong with being very good at what you do AND other people finding you attractive. In any profession.
I’m not sure I ever implied that there was anything wrong with being attractive and good at what you do. My problem is with a woman’s looks being of the highest importance by many corners of the media.
I’m also more than aware of men struggling with body image, but the media rarely focuses on men’s bodies in the same way they do women’s.
Go Jo Pavey I say! Legend. Drugs are a universal problem in sport, across the sexes. In terms of looks and how we are all affected by the pressure society dumps on us, and we allow to get dumped on each other, it would be fair to say men and women have similar pressures to conform to a stereotype, but deal with them differently. In Ireland, suicide rates are four times higher on average in males than females. There are many factors behind this, so I don’t wish to generalise, but I think blokes internalise the sort of pressure to look like Chris Hemsworth much more so than ladies under pressure to look like (insert your own name here). Not just looks, but overall ‘success’ and how that is measured. It heaps huge pressure on young men. Apologies for sort of hijacking your post which is great. And go your Mum. I think my Mum reads my blog on occasion. As does my Missus 😉
But nothing cheered me up in the world of sport recently as much as Jo Pavey winning the 10k two years ago. Go Jo!
I FLIPPING LOVE JO PAVEY!
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