Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Not talking about female bodies

It's not a stretch to say that we (society/media) have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with female athletes' bodies. I feel I don't even have to give the myriad of examples here (though I will upon request). So as I have been watching softball this spring and summer I have been fascinated by the lack of discussion about the larger women who are the big hitters on a team. They have a body shape that in any other context would be deemed overweight but use their size to their advantage in hitting and frequently play first base. When they get on base after a hit they are immediately replaced by pinch runners. In watching the Little League Softball World Series I see the trend exists even at the youth level.
I guess what I am wondering is why, in our thin&fit-obsessed society is this phenomenon not discussed. And what is the effect on these girls/women? I imagine there must be some kind of double consciousness. On the field these girls are often the heroes of the game or at the very least equal contributors. Are they being empowered by their experience? Maybe these girls are the part of the solution to dismantling the hegemonic ideal of the fit, athletic woman. But that might be a little hopeful. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that many of these girls leave the softball field and face the same ridicule and other cultural pressures that non-athletic overweight women do.

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