Female Swimmers: Beauty over Skills

There is stereotypical assumption about the shape of bodies of female swimmers. They are known to have very broad shoulders and lean, almost like a muscular male. In addition, females are known to have masculine body overall, in their hips, thighs and legs, but very narrow through the waist. In some ways they can be seen very “bulky” (http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/female-swimmers-body-10947.html). There are some swimmers who support this stereotype, but there are others who don’t. One advertisement that contradicts this would have to be an image of a Hungarian National Olympian swimmer, Zsuzsanna Jakabos. This image of her actually opens another way to view swimmers.

If you were to compare this image from other female Olympian swimmers, you would be able to see that there is a very different approach in how this photo was taken of this athlete versus other athletes. Before I explain the differences, I want to begin by stating my argument which is that female athletes’ skills are under recognized when they have the characteristics of what society’s defines “beauty.” I would also like to argue that when having these characteristics this becomes the focus, thus further appropriating femininity and creating an importance of sexualization.

This image in some ways can support certain ideologies of females like, new young independent femininity, confidence, and empowerment. Although some may see it this way, I see it as valuing beauty and idolizing society’s desired bodies. Some can say that she shows confidence and independence from her stance; she is not slouching but sticking her chest out which signifies her confidence, and her arm placements against the wall shows a signs of empowerment. The reason why I don’t agree with these thoughts is because of what this image lacks. We do not see in clues of her Olympian background nor do we any evidence of her athletic gear, and lastly, her body is exposed in a way bathing suit models are presented, almost bare, with heels which elongates and emphasizes the lean and lengthiness of her legs. Also, there is a male gaze from above on the right. Due to all this, I have come to a conclusion that her beauty and sex appeal is most important rather than her swimming skills. This creates a message about female swimmers that no matter what achievements they have overcome, beauty and sex appeal, if present, over looks more respectable aspects.


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1 Response to Female Swimmers: Beauty over Skills

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    Yes, in this ad the athlete actually is a bikini model, as indicated by the text at the bottom stating the designer and price of the swimsuit. What also strikes me about this image is that the person embodying the male gaze appears to be an adolescent boy. This makes the process of objectification even more disturbing, since it creates the athletes into an object for men of all ages, even those fairly young.

    How do you see this image relating to concepts and materials discussed in the course?

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