Competing with confidence: Why we need to bring women’s sport uniforms into the 21st century

While sexism is a pervasive issue when it comes to women’s clothing, the chauvinism in sport is abundantly evident.

This display was highlighted recently when the International Handball Federation was called on to amend athlete uniform guidelines. Their rules stipulated that women beach handball players wear “bikini bottoms with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg” explicitly noting that “the side width” be a maximum of 10 centimetres.

Following a protest from Norway’s national team, months of pressure and an online petition, the governing federation finally agreed to modify their uniform protocols.

In highlighting the sexist norms baked into women’s sport uniforms, researchers Sarah Zipp and Sasha Sutherland noted that uniform designs are less likely to be centred around performance, and more likely to cater to the “male gaze.”

This has the unfortunate effect of unjustly prioritizing the esthetic appeal of women over their athletic talent. This superficial approach completely neglects the multiplicity of body types and cultural nuances. It’s also completely arbitrary.

Ernst & Young found that 94 per cent of women executives reported playing sports — which means girls who play sport are more likely to become women who lead.

Let’s let women and girls dress for the role they want to play in women’s sport. And when stale uniform policies get in the way, don’t be afraid to take a page out of Team Norway’s book: speak up and say enough is enough.

Source: Competing with confidence: Why we need to bring women’s sport uniforms into the 21st century

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