Friday, September 02, 2005

A weighty issue

OK the title is cheesy but the issue is serious. For the second time this week I have heard a male commentator at the US Open mention that the official weight stats of the female players need to be updated. What they really are saying is that they need to be corrected because clearly, the suggestion is, the women are lying about their weight. I don't remember the context of the first mention. (And I want to note here that I have only heard this mentioned twice but I have not been watching nearly as much of the Open as I would like given this nagging thing called graduate studies.) But tonight was especially poignant. Venus Williams was playing Daniela Hantuchova. Serena was in the stands having already won today and the camera was frequently panning to her. Male commentator, out of nowhere, says that Serena's weight stat needs to be "updated." Serena's weight is listed at 135--OK, it's not correct. But there has been an obsession with it this Open that has been couched in a discourse about her "health" and "fitness." Both, the commentators say, have improved since Wimbledon. So basically Serena has lost weight since Wimbledon but still is not in ideal "form"--another popular term in this health/fitness lexicon.
What is fascinating about this story is that right before male commentator insisted that Serena's true weight be listed (for all to see and comment on) he and co-commentator Tracy Austin had been engaged in a dialogue about Hantuchova's eating disorder of a few years back. Apparently they did not see anything wrong with praising Hantuchova's determination in dealing with her "personal problems" and then turning around and telling the world that Serena is nowhere near the 135 lbs. she claims to be.
Austin, to her credit, did point out that while women lie about their weight, the men on tour lie about their height--over-exaggerating the actual figure. Hmmm...maybe we need to explore this phenomenon of men adding inches to their body parts a little more and lay off women and their weight.

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