We Are Strong (Women in the Olympics)

So, I’m admittedly not exactly the sort of person who spends a lot of time watching sports on TV. I like to go sit in the stands at a baseball game and scream my head off, but other than that, sports and I don’t really get on. But I started feeling a little left out with this whole Olympics thing, so I’ve taken to leaving it on in the background while I do my (very important) internet things. And I noticed something–this year’s Olympic games (and the ad segments that run in between) really seem to be all about girl power.

I was discussing this with my boyfriend (who generally pays more attention to the world outside books and things than I do) and he informed me that this is the first Olympic year in which every country has both male and female competitors. EVERY country. That’s really something, when you think about how many places in the world women are still far less than equal.

Tiffany Ross Williams after winning the gold for the 400 meter.

The upsetting thing about this is that, like women everywhere, these athletes are coming under criticism for their physical appearance. And I’m not even talking about muscle mass or strength. I’m talking about our old friend “fat shaming.” While watching the coverage, I found myself privy to petty comments like “It looks like she’s put on some weight since the last games.” And all over the internet, you see conversations about this or that women being fat. These are women who are OBVIOUSLY in peak physical condition–I mean, hello, OLYMPICS. I’d like to see the voices behind these comments run as fast and play sports as hard as these women, because I guarantee it isn’t happening. Kind of like this conversation isn’t happening about the male athletes (at least, not that I’ve seen).

Although the media’s decision to fat shame Olympic athletes is very upsetting, it certainly doesn’t take away from the weight of the Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals these women are winning. And boy are they biting back–comments from female athletes and their fans are definitely threatening to drown out the sound of petty picking from those who are obviously just jealous of the power these women have.

The moral here? The usual, of course, about not fat shaming, etc. But more importantly than that, it’s that women are STRONG. We’re competing in Olympic events across the board and fighting back against the body image related pressure. It’s really inspiring to see these women breaking world records and not being discouraged by the same criticisms all women are privy to in this “only thin is beautiful” minded world.

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