Thursday, February 11, 2010

Good thing she knows how to pose in a bathing suit

Because if Lindsey Vonn had a plan to gain Michael Phelps-like fame by winning many medals and becoming a highly decorated American skier, she might have to fall back on her modeling career.
I refrained from commenting on the little upsurge in controversy after my colleague dared to suggest that the pose of Vonn on a recent SI cover, the one with her ass in the air and perfectly coiffed hair and impeccable make-up superimposed on a mountain, was slightly problematic. Though I was tempted to comment on how ugly the response to something that was nothing new: people including Dr. LaVoi and myself and many others have been noting the problematic ways in which female athletes are depicted for a long, long time. Luckily she and others addressed the sexist, homophobic responses.
So now we can all move on and think about Vonn's latest SI appearance: the photos of her in the annual swimsuit issue. There's no question that these are indeed sexual pictures; there is no question of intent. And we can get into the tired debate of showing these proud athletic bodies and the sexualization and mandatory feminization of the female athlete.
Well you can. I think I'll refrain. Besides LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke did a good job discussing the interesting juxtaposition of Vonn's big news week: her swimsuit pics and her shin injury which could keep her out of all her events in Vancouver.
I particularly enjoyed the section in which Plaschke mentions the initial support of Vonn's photo shoot by her teammates and then the not-so-much moments that followed. Gold medalist Julia Mancuso didn't seem so pleased that Vonn--who has no Olympic medal yet--got the opportunity while Mancuso, who won gold in Turin, doesn't get much media attention. It makes it appear as though Mancuso is the ugly stepsister and/or possibly above all this sexualization stuff. But check out her website and you will see Mancuso posed in bikinis (and also action shots of her skiing and surfing) and find out that she plans to launch a line of lingerie called Kiss My Tiara.
So this may be a case of jealousy, but it's also an example of how there just doesn't seem to be that much room in the very limited space the media offers to female athletes. Can't have more than one star at a time!

No comments: