Gini Dietrich

London Olympics Show Female Athletes Fighting Stereotypes

By: Gini Dietrich | August 8, 2012 | 

Growing up, I was taught girls don’t do certain things. They don’t burp, they don’t toot, they don’t snore, they don’t swear, and, by all means, they don’t sweat.

I vividly remember doing something unladylike to make my brothers laugh (probably burping) and my dad pulling me aside to lecture me. I remember him saying, “Have you ever heard your mom do that? Girls don’t act like boys.” And, in fact, I never have heard or seen my mom do anything unladylike.

Because of the way I was raised, it’s taken me a very long time to be confident enough in my athleticism to get out and ride with the boys, even if it means I’m dripping sweat with them. And if the roads are wet? Forget about it! I’ll be gross and dirty with everyone else who rides through puddles of rain and mud.

But it wasn’t just the way I grew up. It’s society. It’s our culture. It’s the culture around the world. Girls are supposed to act like, well, girls.

On Saturday mornings, I ride a little bit later so I can sleep in and have a latte before I get out there. But that also means I typically walk Jack Bauer in my cycling spandex. A few years ago I never would have done that. Let the neighbors see me in my workout gear? OMG!

Now I do it just to see what they’ll say. And comment they do! I’ve heard everything from, “If I had a body like that, I’d wear spandex too!” to “Are you wearing that to support the Tour de France?”

Yes, I wear cycling spandex because the Tour is on. Right.

Athletes Don’t Wear Heels

This past weekend, Margie Clayman sent me an article from Salon titled, “Athletes Don’t Wear Heels,” which explores this very idea.

Girls aren’t allowed, by society’s measures, to act (or heaven forbid, look) like their male counterparts.

And what better time to explore what female athletes wear and how they act than during the Olympics?

Until this year, the International Olympic Committee required skirts for tennis and bikinis for beach volleyball. But it’s chilly in London so they’ve been “allowed” to wear more clothes – even long-sleeved shirts, pants, and jackets.

And the media typically only shows – and reports on – the athletes who demonstrate beauty and grace in sports, such as gymnastics and ice skating.

In fact, Australian swimmer Leisel Jones was shamed by the media for weighing 150 pounds. And Conan O’Brien (shame on him!) mocked weightlifter Holley Mangold for weighing 350 pounds (who, by-the-way, can lift nearly 600 pounds and could take Conan’s lunch without a fight).

These are great examples of how screwed up our brains are. Jones might very well be the very best female breaststrokers the world has ever seen, but we’re worried about how much she weighs?

Has anyone ever discovered that muscle does, in fact, weigh more than fat?

The Right Measures

I wish I could see a show of hands when I ask this question: How many of you would prefer to see an athletic woman to one who starves herself in order to stay skinny?

We all have this vision of what women are supposed to look like, how they’re supposed to act, and what makes them ladylike. And I know most of us think it’s more a Victoria’s Secret model than a 350-pound weightlifter.

I love a beautiful woman as much as anyone else, but the women I find beautiful? The ones who take care of themselves, who have calves that make me envious (I work really hard at mine), and who make you say, “Man, that girl is ripped!” as she passes you while you contemplate getting off the couch.

This year marks the very first Olympics that have female athletes from every nation. Perhaps that means things will begin to change and female athletes will be revered (instead of scorned) for looking and acting like their male counterparts.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • DallasK

    Boys are stronger than girls.  It’s science.

    •  @DallasK Holley Mangold could kick your butt with one arm tied behind her back.

      • DallasK

         @ginidietrich Doubtful.  They also have smaller brains so I would easily be able to outwit her and escape.

        •  @DallasK  @ginidietrich Let’s put him in a room with Misty May & Kerri. They would kick his butt – in a bikini to boot.

        •  @katskrieger  @DallasK I think that is a very good idea, Kat!

        • DallasK

           @katskrieger  @ginidietrich Would they do it in mud or jello?

  • Girls don’t toot? Tell that to my 3.5 year old niece. 😉 

  • Lolo Jones was criticized by the New York Times for being more style over substance. She went on tv today and said they should do their research. She is the American record holder. She was crying because she couldnt believe the US media would attack her 2 days before she competeed in the Olympics. The way women are judged is ridiculous. Not only does a woman like Holley Mangold get judged on looks, but someone like Lolo Jones gets judged on looking too good.

    • “couldn’t” and “competed” are words I can spell. 🙂

    •  @jeanniecw Let’s not forget how Gabby Douglas was criticized by Fox News for not wearing enough patriotic “flair” during her medal ceremony. Sheesh. 

      •  @jasonkonopinski Ugh. That is the WORST. I love Gabby’s attitude. She got on her FB wall and basically told the haters to knock it off. She loves her hair and her mom. So there!

    •  @jeanniecw This all hurts my head. Other than Lochte being teased for being dumb, this doesn’t happen to male athletes. Looking too good? Has anyone seen Michael Phelps’s abs? Should we criticize him, too?

  • I’ll bet you sleep in that Spandex too, huh? Mr D kinda be diggin’ on it I’m sure….:).
    I love athletic females and also females who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. If you are comfortable in your own skin, then go for it. 
    I grew up w/ 3 sisters, so needless to say I was spoiled and always on the lookout when they would slip-up and be ‘non ladylike’….:). All my sisters were tomboys for the most part, they were never comfortable with frilly. 
    Girls Beach Volleyball is kind of cool…..just sayin’……that is a very watchable sport for me…:). The women runners are cool too; I love the sprinters and the distance runners and their different athletic looks. 
    It’s like art; to be appreciated……….

    •  @bdorman264 You boys and your women’s volleyball.

      • @ginidietrich @bdorman264 well, it’s not like we can crush on the 17yr old gymnasts without giving off a Chester the Molestor vibe

  • debdobson62

    You know how much I like this article!!  And you know how much I love athletics and athletes.  I’ve worked very hard at getting a powerful tennis game and am happy that after my layoff from tennis, I’ve finally got my serve back and strong game.  I love hitting with the boys, and nothing I love more than playing mixed doubles and blowing a serve past the guy who stands close to the service box because “girls can’t hit hard serves.”  Um, yep bud, I would stand further back is what I think as I serve.  I hate the stereotypes and attitudes that exist.  And jasonkonopinski, I love that your niece toots.  🙂

    •  @debdobson62 My only complaint is I wish I had more women to ride with. I love riding with the guys, but sometimes it’d be nice to ride with girls.

  • Ginny Soskey

    Gini, this is seriously an awesome post. It’s amazing to see the volume of media coverage around women athletes’ weight and attractiveness–and not in a good way. Thank you for taking the time to write this post! If you ever have the time, you should definitely check out this blog: It seems right up your alley. 🙂 

    •  @Ginny Soskey I don’t know why it surprises me. I mean, what did the media talk about when Hillary Clinton was First Lady? Her pantsuits. Give me a break. There was an interesting article (and now I can’t remember where I read it) about the difference between men’s and women’s magazines. Men’s are all about sports and sex and women’s are about raising kids and keeping  a clean house and working full-time, and pleasing your husband in the bedroom, and cooking every night. When is this stuff going to change?
      I’m going to check out the blog – thank you! And…I LOVE your name. I wish mine was spelled the same. I feel like no one would call me Gina or Genie if it were spelled your way.

      • @ginidietrich how many people say it like Guinea sounds 🙂

      • Ginny Soskey

         @ginidietrich I don’t know when it’s going to change, sadly, but I hold out hope that by talking about it, we’ll make slow steps to change. Hope you enjoy the blog in the meantime! 🙂
        And thanks! The Ginny/Ginis of the world must unite against bad pronunciation…I still get Jenny, Genie, Gina and like @sociallygenius said Guinea. The last one is the only one where I facepalm. 

        •  @Ginny Soskey  @sociallygenius People amaze me.

  • I keep telling people that muscle weighs more than fat, but my credibility is waning! You’re right about all this crap. No, not crap aa in female athletes, but crap as in we’re still have to defend them from the “lazy media” (Jalen Rose).

    •  @SociallyGenius Someday, maybe when you run for office, things will change.

  • Another reason why I feel vindicated in my “NO Olympics” policy this year.
    Know what’s sexy?
    Drive. Intelligence. Excellence.
    In ANY enterprise: Athletic, work, study, artistic, or any other you can think of.

    •  @Sean McGinnis It’s sad you’re not watching the Olympics. It’s pretty amazing to see some of these athletes…no matter how much NBC is screwing up.

      •  @ginidietrich I honestly don’t feel like I’m missing anything. I have zero desire to watch. It’s all overdone. Over-produced. Over-dramatized. Over-scheduled. Over-sanitized. Over-over.
        I want my sport (and other things for that matter) raw and unfiltered. Same reason I don’t watch the super Bowl unless my team is involved. same reason I refuse to watch news coverage of whatever crisis is happening at the moment – OJ Simpson, etc…
        You may be right, but I honestly don’t feel like I’m missing a thing.

        •  @Sean McGinnis Loser.

        •  @ginidietrich I may be. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. 🙂

        •  @Sean McGinnis You’re just upset that no one is on Facebook telling you how cute you are. 

        •  @ginidietrich All  my adoration comes in private doses. 🙂

        •  @Sean McGinnis LOL!

    • AnneReuss

       @Sean McGinnis YES. Those 3 words are winners. Also that makes me remember an article I read about the volleyball girl Kerri quipping about flat chests but they don’t care.  They’re driven and happy. I don’t care either; I’ve got a little more of an athletic build too but I’m happy and I see them as role models for redefining today’s definition of sexy.

  • a) Your ladylike upbringing is showing in the fact that you used the word ‘toot’ instead of ‘fart.’  Too cute.
    b) I learned to be very unladylike AND ENJOY it by both living on a farm (barn chores erase all of that) AND being an athlete. 
    When I run my 3 miles I spit like guys do (sorry, I know it’s TMI but it’s TRUE).My 5 year old is a real princess – loves everything girly – but I insisted that she play sports. She’s the best hitter on her T ball team.  Sports breeds confidence, and allows the princesses to act ‘like guys’ all they want. 

    •  @AmyMccTobin I was going to say fart, but a) my mom reads the blog and b) lisagerber HATES the word. I spit, too. And, during the winter, I get snot out of my nose like the guys do – by holding one nostril and blowing it out the other. It’s just a part of life, but for some reason we’ve been taught girls don’t do those things. Lame.

      •  @ginidietrich Well that IS sort of gross. I’m trying to raise my young men not to do that. 😛 Another Aunt Gini bad influence on them! 

        •  @jeanniecw  @ginidietrich Ahh yes – the gym teacher’s handkerchief. 

        •  @jeanniecw Who me?!? Nooooo. You mean all the sugar and treats and being allowed to stay up late and honking noses is bad influence? 

      •  @ginidietrich @AmyMccTobin HAHAHA. What I said above. (I do hate that word.)
        That’s called a Farmer Jane!!! the nose-blow. I do it all the time. I have to, otherwise, I can’t breathe. So you don’t want to be riding or running behind me. 

      • AnneReuss

         @ginidietrich Oh yeah! And spit sunflower shells out of the car too! Speaking of trapped snot, us ladies have an advantage sometimes – our pinky nails are long enough to help out once in a while. Baha

        •  @AnneReuss OMG Anne! LOL!!

        • AnneReuss

           @ginidietrich *blush* Fear not, I can still be a lady! 

        •  @AnneReuss  @ginidietrich <snort> 

  • y0mbo

    No, no one has ever discovered that muscle weighs more than fat. Muscle is more *dense* than fat, meaning it takes up less space, but a pound is a pound is a pound.

    •  @y0mbo But when you step on the scale, it weighs more than it does if the same were fat. The difference is in how your clothes fit. I can weigh 120 pounds and wear a size two or weigh 100 pounds and wear a size four.

      • rustyspeidel

         @ginidietrich Either works. 😉

  • Pingback: Roar, Ladies. Roar |()

  • susancellura

    Great post! My daughter gets a kick out of tooting. Sometimes I call her “Princess Toot”. Did you notice the pattern though? It’s mostly been the males making these comments/”rules”. What does that say? I enjoyed sports growing up, but to your point, no one commenting on the Olympics can do what these athletes can do. They deserve respect for all of their hard work, not comments about how they look.

    •  @susancellura They deserve HUGE respect. Some of these athletes are still teenagers. What were you doing at 16? I was kissing boys…not winning Olympics medals.

      • susancellura

         @ginidietrich They devote their childhoods and lives to the sport. I don’t know what my daughter will end up loving the most, but she has more respect for the athletes versus some of the commentators. She’s learning that you can’t just naturally do everything – even the most talented people have to work hard. In fact, when the weightlifter’s background story was aired, we sat her down and showed her that people go without (and other life lessons), but if you work hard, you can accomplish anything. Work hard. Don’t give up. Find your passion and go for it.  

        •  @susancellura That’s the biggest issue with our society. We have get rich quick schemes and lose weight fast programs. But the only thing that works, to your point, is hard work and sacrifice. 

      •  @ginidietrich  @susancellura You don’t want to know what I was doing at 16. 

        • DallasK

           @jasonkonopinski  @ginidietrich  @susancellura I’m sure whatever it was, it was a SOLO effort. 😉

  • I missed this article when I wrote the blog post this morning, but it’s another one that talks about this…and how it’s fake power. REALLY interesting. (thanks to jsandford for making sure I saw it). 

    •  @ginidietrich  jsandford Oh my gosh great article. Thanks for sharing this one!

      • magriebler

         @rachaelseda @ginidietrich This is one of those days when I’m so tired by all of this **** that I want to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. We’re going to complain about the hair of a young woman who can literally fly through the air? We’re going to call the first woman athlete from Saudi Arabia a prostitute when she can’t drive in her country or leave her house without a male escort? What is wrong with us? Football players can go to PRISON and we’re cool with that. They can kill dogs for sport and we look the other way. But God forbid you’re a woman who doesn’t think her hair style is more important than her ability to combine power with grace in ways that leave me slack-jawed.
        OK, I’m done ranting. Is it too early to have a drink? It’s 5:00 in London, right?

        • rustyspeidel

           @magriebler  @rachaelseda  @ginidietrich SO perfectly stated. 

        •  @magriebler  @rachaelseda This made me laugh out loud (well, mostly your last sentence). Amen, girl! Amen!

  • I have one comment: THANK YOU for saying toot and not using the F word. I’m going to add this to the guidelines – two F bombs are forbidden on this blog. 
    Oh wait, I have a second comment: Seriously about the bikinis in volleyball? I had no idea! 

    •  @Lisa Gerber Yes I had no idea about the bikinis in volleyball either. Ridiculous!

    •  @Lisa Gerber I almost wrote in parenthesis (I’m not going to write the F word because Lisa Gerber hates it). On the bikinis…totally serious. It was standard uniform before this year. The only reason they’re allowed to wear anything else this year is because they were cold.

    •  @Lisa Gerber FART. FART. FART. 

      • DallasK

         @jasonkonopinski  @Lisa Gerber haha… Farting is cool.

  • This post made me think of this nasty article written by a NY Times reporter about Lolo Jones – And while I hate to even share it I think it’s ridiculous for many reasons. One, shouldn’t the US media be supporting our nations athletes (especially two days before they compete)? Two, it fails to mention the records she holds, the spinal cord surgery she had only a year ago and the fact that she works her butt off 6 days a week for 4 years for a race that’s over in 12 seconds. 
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to be feminine and I think that term is different to everyone. Why being an athlete means you’re somehow a “tom boy” (as I was when I was younger) instead of a lady is mind boggling to me. And why a track star with a rocking body who’s beautiful can’t show it off without being criticized is disgusting to me. I’d much rather young girls think that’s beauty, than some anorexic model.
    Thanks for getting me all fired up Gini, you’re so good at that! haha. All I have to say is #girlpower

    •  @rachaelseda Oh I saw it. It made me angry, too. I don’t understand people. I’m assuming Jere is a guy, too. Which makes it worse.

      •  @ginidietrich YES I was thinking the same thing, that Jere’s probably a man which made me livid, but you know I’m not sure if I would be more or less pissed if a woman decided to degrade another successful woman. I saw her on the Today show this morning and I’m glad she had the courage to say something and to point out that to her it’s about showing young girls they can do anything and that sometimes you learn more from losing than winning. She pointed out all the hurdles she overcame to get to that point and I know 4th isn’t a medal, it’s still something to be celebrated. 

        •  @rachaelseda She’s at the freaking Olympics. That’s more than 99.9% of us will ever do.

  • ladylaff

    Great article Gini.  I’m SO proud of the female Olympic athletes this year.  The style in which women compete is very different to men, which makes the whole competition much more interesting.  Everyone I spoke to agreed the women’s Olympic road race was so much more exciting than the men’s this time.  Much more intense and close to the finish.

    •  @ladylaff I agree! As cycling is my sport, it was TONS of fun to watch!

  • HBO put together a great bit on Holly Mangold. It was on their show Real Sports. Wish I had access to the whole clip:

    •  @TheJackB Oh! I wonder if I can get it through my HBO Go?

  • Great thoughts, @ginidietrich. One thing I love most about watching the Olympics is how different sports require different body types. I do CrossFit, and our bodies come with weird muscles in weird places that make halter dresses look atrocious on us (thanks to overbuilt traps! ;). We are not pretty and most of us are not chiseled (yet!0, but we are functional and we are strong.
    It takes an enormous amount of work to be the top athletes in any sport and have a body that looks amazing. Why isn’t hard work the focus of these articles?

    •  @lamiki Ha! I can’t wear anything sleeveless or anything that is shorter than my knee. For the same reasons and because of my atrocious cycling tan. But the point is, no matter your sport, you’re fit, you’re taking care of your body (minus the few who smoke some weed), and you’re changing the perception of what is a sexy body. Girl power!

  • Great post. Anytime the walls of stereo types can be brought down, it is a good day…or 17 as the case may be. Now, lets get to work on the “Girls can’t do math”. That is the one that drives me nuts. I wrote a paper in college and the truth of the matter is, yes, girls and boys brains are different, but not in the area that performs calculations.
    If you think you can’t do math, it is because someone told you that lie. Stop believing it. Math is sexy!!!  Muscles are sexy!!! Burping…well, I’m not sure I want anyone burping.

    •  @ExtremelyAvg I have a niece who is 14 and, when she was little, I started telling her how cool math and science are…and would ask her about equations instead of telling her how pretty she is (even though she is VERY pretty). Now she’s killing it in school in the areas where girls aren’t supposed to play. I love that.

  • Thank you Gini! I’ve really been appreciating your voice on these issues lately.
    Related: I keep hearing all the criticism of beach volleyball – recently read a story that suggested it’s not really a sport so much as a “spectator event.” I’m not sure how I’d feel about it if I wasn’t dating a guy who used to play beach voleyball competitively … no bikinis.

    •  @EleanorPie The only reason the non-athletes think it’s a spectator event is because the athletes are nice to look at it in their non-clothes. But, to @rustyspeidel point, it’s not exactly easy….as I’m sure your BF knows.

      •  @ginidietrich  @rustyspeidel Precisely. I mean, I tried jumping in sand a couple of times. These people have nearly 5 foot verticals. That is insane.

  • I have two daughters who were/are very competitive athletes and would likely have kicked any boy’s backside on the soccer field who made any sort of snide remark.  In fact I recall that happening a few times on the field.  
    That said (and at the risk of sounding like a typical male) I’m convinced that woman’s beach volleyball might be the greatest Olympic sport ever invented on many levels.  Though I do have to say the woman’s soccer semifinal was the single best game across any sport that I have seen to date, except maybe the 1967 “Ice Bowl” game between Green Bay and Dallas (I am old enough to have watched it live on TV). 

    •  @rwohlner But we know you were only four when it was on.
      Oh. And. 
      GO BEARS!!!!!

  • rustyspeidel

    Beach volleyball looks easy, but try it. It’s freaking HARD. When they save the point with a great dig, scramble up and spike the next set for the point, I’m blown away. 
    This whole topic is highly annoying to me, because I guess I can’t understand how people can be so ignorant, misogynistic and ridiculous. Sure, we all respond to what we’re attracted to, but I swear I could care less during sporting events. These athletes are amazing, and to try and exploit some other aspect of their lives for stupid, sexist ends pisses me off.  Like Sean says, excellence, passion and accomplishment are sexy in their own right. Where it gets difficult it when people want it both ways. 

    •  @rustyspeidel I can’t imagine wearing a bikini to play beach volleyball. I’m pretty sure something would come loose. 

  • jennwhinnem

    If we as women want to be respected as equals, we cannot ask to have it both ways. We cannot ask men to respect us, but then expect them to “treat us like ladies.” Also, I really want to see women stop enforcing sexism through complaining about men, or talking about women as having inherent qualities as a result of a chromosomal & secondary sex characteristics mix. Unfortunately many involved in this conversation broadly tend to reinforce the very stereotypes they seek to escape. This offends me to the bone.
    And yes, strength is beautiful.

    •  @jennwhinnem OMG. I served on a board a few years ago where every meeting was about bashing the white male. I lasted two board meetings before I resigned. When I resigned, the executive director told me she was disappointed I wasn’t more willing to help other women in the business world. I told her I was happy to do that, but not it if meant we would do it by bashing men. I love men. And I love women. Why can’t we all just get along?

      • jennwhinnem

         @ginidietrich Yeah, I just don’t see how we can bash men while simultaneously seeking equality. That just makes us look foolish. Why would we be trying to be equals with buffoons?
        Right now I’m obsessed with hormones. I think we can learn about the biological basis of gender from transsexuals. Many trans people have shared their stories around the psychological changes they undergo as a result of the changes in hormones. I appreciate their journey and the understanding they bring to the gender conversation.
        I’m not saying differences don’t exist. They do. And those vary across cultures, socioeconomic status, even the different social constructions of race. So, can we really generalize as to what being a woman means? Can we really assign characteristics to a gender? It doesn’t seem fair to me. @EleanorPie 

    •  @jennwhinnem Wait – are you saying that men and women should always be treated exactly the same? That we should ignore differences between men and women if they’re related to chromosomes or secondary sex characteristics? Because personally, I don’t think that’s necessarily a helpful approach. Totally with you on being against male-bashing though. 

      • jennwhinnem

         @EleanorPie I think we have the same chin. Otherwise, no, that’s not what I said, but I appreciate the opportunity to clarify. I don’t believe all women are exactly the same as each other just because we share the same chromosomes & sex characteristics – or however being a “woman” is defined. As such, I don’t want to be treated a certain way just because I am a woman – that involves a lot of assuming based on primarily physical characteristics. Do we really want to advocate for making assumptions and generalizing? Does anyone really like to be stereotyped?
        At the same time, feminism for me is about choice. You are free to choose differently than me (which sounds arrogant, I just think it needs saying – feminists can sound so prescriptive sometimes). With that in mind, I would just like this broader conversation to be less divisive. It often ends up looking like benevolent sexism. Which, I’m a gender theory nerd, so watch out, Chin Twin.

        •  @jennwhinnem @ginidietrich All fair points. I’m pretty sure the three of us are fairly well in agreement on these issues – it’s a matter of degrees and phrasing. Here’s another point I think we can all agree on: I have smart, confident women friends who don’t characterize themselves as feminists. What can we do about that?Sigh.(Sorry – don’t mean to try to turn this into a gender theory/feminism blog … it’s just too good of a discussion!)

        •  @EleanorPie  @jennwhinnem Like me…I don’t characterize myself as a feminist, but it’s pretty clear how I feel about equality and this baloney war on women and the having it all debate. 

        • jennwhinnem

           @EleanorPie  @ginidietrich It does sadden me that more people don’t embrace the term. For instance, as I was typing this, Gini said she didn’t think of herself as a feminist. Why not? It’s true the term has some negative associations for some. I’ve decided to embrace those associations and be the change I want to see for that word. Which, I want to see that word mean, “I stand for gender equality.” Who wouldn’t want to stand for that? Sexism hurts men, too. For example, men are allowed (in white American culture, at any rate) to feel two emotions: rage, and excitement. But feel sad? Forget it. I’d like this to change.
          So, who’s with me?? I’m glad we’re having this conversation, too.

        •  @jennwhinnem  @ginidietrich Me, too. I’m surprised – I don’t understand why women don’t like the term. I mean, yes – I, too, have run across some (I hate to even type the words) angry feminists – but I’ve run across angry democrats, and yet people seem to be able to see past it.
          I’m curious, too, Gini. Would love to be enlightened.(Also, Caitlin Moran was hi-LARious on this very topic on Fresh Air very recently) 

        •  @EleanorPie  @jennwhinnem Hmmmm…I don’t know. I guess I’ve never really thought about it. 

        • jennwhinnem

           @ginidietrich  @EleanorPie One of us, one of us (kidding)

        •  @jennwhinnem  @ginidietrich  (sort of kidding)
          p.s. This made me LOL.

        •  @EleanorPie  @jennwhinnem Are the two of you the same person!?

  • JoycePodlesnikMcCall

    Love your points on women athletes. Here Gabby Douglas shows why she’s the best all-around gymnast on the highest athletic level yet people are criticizing her hair. I wondered why the men’s beach volleyball players wear shirts, while women are in bikinis. Now that I know the Olympic rules “allowed” the women players to wear additional clothing due to the temperature, I’m even more amazed. Seems to me these are the best female athletes in the world and we should be celebrating their accomplishments — not holding them to some artificial standards that have roots in sexism.

    • magriebler

       @JoycePodlesnikMcCall I was shocked to learn about the IOC rule too. Just goes to show that sexism is still baked into many of our institutions. It goes waaay deep.

    •  @JoycePodlesnikMcCall I’m all for the male volleyball players not wearing shirts. Where do we sign THAT petition? 

  • Love this post!!  I know you’re focusing on athletes here, but as the mom of 2 daughters, I’ve worked REALLY hard to make sure they care more about how they THINK as opposed to how they LOOK.  And let’s face it, in this society that’s not easy…let’s hear it for all the “sweaty, tooting, overweight, bad hair day” athletes who are kicking stereotypes to smithereens!!  🙂

    •  @lizreusswig It’s no easy! Not at all. I tell this story a lot so you may have already heard it, but one of the very first speaking engagements I had, a guy walked up to me afterwards and said, “You are so attractive and you actually have a brain. I’d like to see you be a little more prepared.” I had gone without confirming they had a projector so I couldn’t use my slides and had to wing it. Trust me, I was prepared after that. But I thought it was interesting that his first comment was that I’m attractive.

      •  @ginidietrich Great story – sounds like he may have been a bit surprised that you had a brain seeing that you are attractive…makes me wonder if he would have been as bothered if you were an unattractive yet intelligent man?

  • Applause. I feel the same way.

    •  @Tinu One of the many reasons I adore you.

      • @ginidietrich *single perfect tear*

  • jelenawoehr

    My Godmother had all sorts of stories about HER granny, from “Ladies don’t perspire. They glow,” to, “A lady with her skirt up can run faster than a man with his pants down,” a statement made with a sneer of disapproval toward any woman who dared to suggest she’d been sexually assaulted.
    Thank goodness she was too darn independent to take a lick of stock in that nonsense, because the sayings I got from her were more like, “If you don’t want to shower between the barn and dancing, don’t! Any boy who doesn’t appreciate ‘eau de cheval’ has no sense anyway,” or, “A few broken bones add character.” (So maybe that was a little too far in the other direction sometimes, but she was the greatest badass and the overall kindest person I’ve ever met.)
    Anyway, on the topic of Olympians, PREACH — now, if only the 350 pound weightlifting ladies got the endorsement deals the beach volleyball players and tennis players do, ’cause right now the best female weightlifter in the US is broke and sees no way out of it unless she stops competing and spends her time on a “real job.” There was a campaign to get Dove to hire her as a spokesmodel for their “Real Beauty” ads, but I’m not sure where that went.
    I should also mention that equestrian events are the only Olympic sports where women compete on an equal footing with men. Nothing like a 1,200 pound animal that doesn’t respond to brute force to make the playing field a little less about genetic predisposition toward arm and shoulder strength and more about the intelligence and dogged dedication that mark the best athletes. (If only Blue Hors Matine were still alive to shut the world up about “horse dancing.” Sigh.)

    •  @jelenawoehr OMG! I love those stories! I was just telling a girlfriend, who had a bicycling accident, to wear her scars like trophies. Those are the kinds of things that make a person and, in fact, I am going to steal some of these phrases.

      •  @ginidietrich Oh man. I have SO many. She once broke her neck and didn’t know it. Just kept going and found out years later when they x-rayed for something else. Also broke her back in two places, and got the news of the x-ray results while standing up leaning against the Coke machine in the hospital waiting room, from a doctor whose first words were, “How are you not paralyzed?” She literally went into labor on horseback with her first daughter while managing a working ranch by herself, and both her daughters were riding as soon as they could sit up and hold onto the reins, ’cause she didn’t have anyone else to help her bring in the cattle.
        Best role model EVER. I wish I could make a million of her and share her with every little girl who doesn’t mind getting a little dirty and bloody and sometimes feels like a freak for caring more about her brain or muscles than her hairstyle.

        •  @jelenawoehr WOW!!

        • rustyspeidel

          @jelenawoehr @ginidietrich My moms horse rolled over on her during a hunt and broke her clavicle, wrist and 4 ribs. She was back out there in a month. She was 72 when it happened. Bad ass.

  • Well done Gini. My wife can kick my ass in the weight room. I’m very proud of her. 

    •  @barrettrossie NICE! I’m proud of her, too!

  • rdopping

    Nice. My wife can also kick my ass. Mentally……;-)

    •  @rdopping I’ve met her…she can in more ways than one.

  • Keena Lykins

    So, while I agree with everything that’s been said below but I also think there’s more to the story than just being a lady vs. being athletic.
    I admit to being surprised at some of the body shapes of the female Olympians. Even the gymnasts remind me a bit of the old East German shot putters. To clarify, I think the athletic body is beautiful, but it bothers me when the athletes don’t look cut or ripped, but doped. A masculinized look is one of the signs of doping for female athletes. I know it’s impossible to separate what’s talent, hard work and natural body shape and what’s the result of using performance enhancers, but when commentator mentions a female athlete’s “sturdy” build, I assume he’s making an allusion to doping (as well as being insensitive and possibly misogynistic). Now, maybe I’m reading more into than is there, but that’s my take on it.

  • Keena Lykins

    So, while I agree with everything that’s been said below, I also think there’s more to the story than just being a lady vs. being athletic.
    I admit to being surprised at some of the body shapes of the female Olympians. Even the gymnasts remind me a bit of the old East German shot putters. To clarify, I think the athletic body is beautiful, but it bothers me when the athletes don’t look cut or ripped, but doped. A masculinized look is one of the signs of doping for female athletes. I know it’s impossible to separate what’s talent, hard work and natural body shape and what’s the result of using performance enhancers, but when commentator mentions a female athlete’s “sturdy” build, I assume he’s making an allusion to doping (as well as being insensitive and possibly misogynistic). Now, maybe I’m reading more into than is there, but that’s my take on it.

    •  @Keena Lykins Interesting take. I’m so naive when it comes to doping. I want to believe everyone works hard and gets where they are on their own talent and abilities. It sucks to think that stuff goes on. 

      • lynne.melcombe

         @ginidietrich Female athletes’ bodies become masculinized when their body fat drops below a certain point. Estrogen is produced by fat cells, so without adequate fat, we stop producing the estrogen required to maintain feminine characteristics. It’s a shame when people  assume that because female athletes have small breasts (further flattened by tight-fitting sports bras) or because their bodies become more triangular than hourglass shape, they must be doping. There have been more athletes kicked out of this year’s Olympics for tweeting inappropriate comments than for drug use. And on the whole, doping was not the huge problem the media blew it into; a small percentage of athletes did/do it, and the whole community was/is tarred with the same brush.
        Keena, I don’t think you’re reading misogyny into what sports commentators say about women athletes. Misogyny is alive and well in the sports world and a whole lot of other places, too.

        •  @lynne.melcombe It’s like cycling. I’m a HUGE cycling fan and I refuse to believe Lance Armstrong doped (not the female athlete take, I know, but I’m pretty opinionated about it). As for the estrogen thing, I know it well. First your periods decrease or stop all together. And I don’t work out like Olympics athletes or professional athletes. I ride about 15 hours a week and my doctor is always after me about estrogen and iron.

  • NikkiBusmanis

    Gini, I know this is a delayed message, but I have had this article open on my computer all week as a reminder to comment. I want to say how much I enjoy your blog. You have a refreshing way of taking something newsworthy and discussing it personally (like a person!…instead of some corporate blog), while at the same time making it relevant to PR.
    This post just exemplifies this further for me. Thanks for blogging and sharing. From someone who has been slightly discouraged by the overly “business” mentality of other PR pros, your style and openness are a reminder that you can be a successful business professional AND a real person talking about real things, all at the same time.Thanks again, Gini, and I truly look forward to more posts!

    • Nikki! What a nice thing to say. Thank you! Like you, it drives me crazy that people go to work and stop behaving like human beings. I’m not sure how that happened, but one of my favorite things to ask people is, “Do you like getting unsolicited emails?” (or whatever the topic is we’re discussing). If the answer is no (it’s always no), I ask them why they’d want to send any on behalf of their company. I get a lot of grumbling and avoidance of my eyes at that point.

  • debdobson62

     @ginidietrich This is a great Nike video about women athletes.  My favorite quote – “I just want to play ball.”

  • Women athletes are as good as men… i really can’t understand all the “fuss” about it… Go GO Go for the ladies! :))