While Olympics fanatics have been spending their days enjoying the US women’s gymnastics team’s #girlsquad bestie bonding, Aly Raisman’s parents’ nervous in-seat gymnastics and the scuba hunt for Kathleen Baker’s lost pearl earring, buzz has also been brewing over something very different. Beach volleyball is always a popular event, but this year’s matches have stirred up some controversy around what the women are wearing, what they’re not wearing and how they’re being viewed by the world.
While we were all eagerly watching for the next block and match-point, fans of the sport couldn’t help but notice that some seriously skewed views were popping up of the athletes. Twitter user Nanjala Nyabola made the distinction very clear with her side-by-side pics showing Egypt’s Doaa Elghobashy and Germany’s Kira Walkenhorst, tweeting, “Female Gaze v. Male gaze. Photo 1 is by a female photojournalist, photo 2 is by a male photojournalist. Same match.”
Granted, one could argue that these two particular photographers just had different vantages of the match; however, this isn’t the only debate stirred up by this sporting event.
The fact that women athletes are not technically required to wear the revealing swimsuits (as proven by the Egyptian team, whose members choose more coverage) makes many wonder why the other athletes opt for seemingly inconvenient outfits. Honestly, don’t they fear their bits might pop out? Doesn’t sand get everywhere?
One answer might be viewership and sponsors. If you’ve ever watched a match of beach volleyball, you’ll know it’s not exactly like other sports. With live music playing and fans cheering, hooting and hollering in the stands, it definitely has more of a party atmosphere than other events. With this goes fans who are wanting to see hottie athletes in skimpy outfits. *blush*
Then, of course, many beach volleyball athletes prefer wearing bikinis BECAUSE they’re comfy in them. As pro volleyball player Jen Kessy explained in 2012: “We’re not uncomfortable in our bikinis. Growing up in Southern California, that’s what you wear from when you’re a little kid to now in the summertime.”
Earlier this year, US beach volleyball team member Kerri Walsh Jennings told Huffington Post: “When it comes to beach volleyball, we’re playing in 100-degree-plus weather. I think we’ve just gotta educate the public, take it with a grain of salt and make sure that we’re working hard and not playing up the sex appeal because it’s inherent anyway.”
Whether you like the swimsuits or would rather more coverage on the athletes, for now we’ll just keep cheering the ladies on… and hope that more women photographers take to covering the event ;)
What do you think about the women’s beach volleyball uniforms? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Ezra Shaw/Getty)