When I used to be on the cheerleading group in highschool, we wore these actually cute uniforms with a tank prime with the varsity colours of purple and white emblazoned in a “V” on the entrance and somewhat skirt that flipped while you twirled. I beloved cheerleading, and I beloved my cheer uniform.
The solely factor I hated was how uncovered I felt at any time when I needed to do any strikes that required me to unfold my legs. On the sidelines we did a number of flips and jumps that may have our skirts flying up and revealing our bloomers beneath. I at all times used to panic at the concept that anybody would possibly see “too much” or that some creep within the stands could be attempting to get an eyeful of my crotch. I had an elaborate shaving and post-shave routine I accomplished earlier than any sport day, ensuring no pubic hair was escaping my bloomers and that my razor burn was beneath management. I wore particular wedgie-proof bloomers.
My panic and my shaving and razor burn-prevention routine had been regular to me. It was one thing all of us did with out query as a result of that was the conference and we beloved our sport.
An Athlete’s Right To Cover Up
So it caught my consideration just lately when German gymnast Sarah Voss made headlines along with her option to compete in a full-body unitard on the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Basel, Switzerland. Two of Voss’s teammates additionally opted for unitards. I’d have beloved to have somewhat extra protection in my cheerleading days, and I used to be solely performing to a teeny dwell crowd.
In an interview with public broadcaster ZDF, Voss mentioned, “We women all want to feel good in our skin. In the sport of gymnastics it gets harder and harder as you grow out of your child’s body. As a little girl I didn’t see the tight gym outfits as such a big deal. But when puberty began, when my period came, I began feeling increasingly uncomfortable.”
The German federation (DTB) totally backs their gymnasts, saying that feminine athletes ought to get to really feel snug of their clothes always and so they help their athletes standing towards “sexualisation in gymnastics.” Voss additionally mentioned she hopes that “gymnasts uncomfortable in the usual outfits will feel emboldened to follow our example.”
The History And Relevance Of The Gymnastics Leotard
In photographs from the 1908 Olympics, feminine gymnasts could be seen sporting fits that regarded extra like a stuffy gown than one thing through which you’d need to carry out an advanced tumbling go. With lengthy puffy sleeves and a below-the-knee saggy skort, the opponents’ our bodies had been almost utterly coated.
By the 1948 Olympics, gymnastics fits had been already evolving to look somewhat extra like what we see right this moment, with a extra form-fitting physique and cloth that stopped on the hip so the athletes legs had been solely in view. Over time, expertise contributed to very large advances within the stretch and look of the fabric used to make leotards.
The conference for feminine gymnasts right this moment is to put on leotards consisting of extraordinarily tight, usually shiny cloth that highlights each little bump and divot in an athlete’s physique. Competition leotards are normally long-sleeved with a better minimize leg meant to present the looks of longer leg traces. Leotards are supposed to indicate your character and assist a gymnast really feel assured.
Butt Glue And Other Abnormal Norms
Because the legal guidelines of physics apply, leotards typically creep into an athlete’s butt crack, creating an uncomfortable wedgie and revealing extra butt cheek than she desires. But if a gymnast picks her wedgie throughout her efficiency, the judges deduct factors. So, many feminine athletes use a sprig referred to as TuffSkin to stay their leotard to their butt to keep away from this occurring.
It’s not really required to put on these kind of leotards — it’s simply change into the conference over time. The considering is that the upper minimize on the leg gives the impression of longer leg traces, maybe enhancing the athlete’s efficiency within the eyes of the judges. Shorts usually are not formally disallowed, however they’re additionally not included as “acceptable attire” within the present Women’s Code of Points. Unitards that cowl from hip to ankle are formally allowed, however at the moment, if a feminine gymnast wears shorts to compete, she dangers shedding factors.
A change.org petition is at the moment circulating to regulate these guidelines in order that athletes won’t be penalized for sporting shorts. The petition states, partly, “I have had multiple young females start their menstrual cycle during competition and were required to compete in a leotard that only covers exactly 2¾ inches of the most private area of their body or take a .20 deduction. With a situation they cannot control and having a male coach I, like many of my colleagues, find this rule to be discriminatory and outdated.”
Covering Up Does Not Mean Protection From Sexual Assault
We need to be clear that we don’t recommend that athletes who select to cowl up are defending themselves from sexual assault or that athletes who proceed to make use of the standard bare-leg leotard are in any manner “asking for it.” Aly Raisman made that time in 2018 when the controversy about whether or not feminine gymnasts ought to go for uniforms with extra protection in gentle of the sexual abuse scandal with Larry Nassar.
The concern at hand is a matter of non-public selection, and of consent. Yes, each sport could have its requirements, and sure, in a creative sport like gymnastics it’s arguably useful to see the traces of an athlete’s physique. But there must be extra flexibility for gymnasts who want to go for extra protection.
Even sports activities like seaside volleyball up to date their uniform necessities for girls previous to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Female volleyball gamers now have the choice to put on shorts as an alternative of the beforehand necessary bikini. This needs to be the case throughout all sports activities. We needs to be permitted to cowl our our bodies if we select to and never be penalized for it.
As for Sarah Voss, she wasn’t thrilled along with her efficiency on beam in Basel, however she was pleased with her determination to put on a unitard — which regarded superb, by the way in which. In her Instagram publish, she wrote, “Feeling good and still looking elegant? Why not?”
We completely agree, Sarah.