Recently, I read an article about how female athletes had to do sexy shoots in order to capitalise on the limited window of exposure that the Olympics brings. That they needed sponsorship, and the only way to do so in a sporting world dominated by men is to play on their attractiveness.
I think that in this scenario, it’s less about female empowerment through sexuality, and more about making enough money to make ends meet. In the material world we live in, we can’t always aspire towards post-materialistic ideals. Feminism is great in theory, but in practice, it’s difficult to overcome centuries of patriarchy.
It’s not the best endorsement for the feminist movement, but they are still Olympians, competing in a global sporting event. That they need money to live and train for the quadrennial event, and earn that through photo-shoots shouldn’t be condemned. It should be lauded in a way; that these people find the means, making use of whatever they have in hand to pursue their Olympic dreams.
So what if it plays on the fact that attractiveness is important? Talent is talent, and good looks is a form of talent in and of itself. David Beckham sold his looks so many times over, and Cristiano Ronaldo has followed suit. Even the male athletes who get regular exposure exploit their looks to sell their brand. Why shouldn’t female Olympians do the same? Just because they are female, they should be held to a different standard? That’s anti-feminist.