Former gymnast challenges media descriptions of female athletes in open letter
Former gymnast Shawn Johnson has written an open letter in support of Dove’s #MyBeautyMySay campaign.
The gold medalist spoke out about some of the terms used to describe female athletes in the media. She noted recent examples including: “hot blonde”, “frizzy hair” and “huge nipples”. She said that these descriptions distract the women’s sporting performance.
I wonder what gymnastics and women’s sports overall would look like if the athletes could focus solely on their performance.
“Regardless of how strong these women’s performances are, at the end of the day, the media and the world still continue to layer commentary about their looks into their reporting of the sport,” Johnson said.
Johnson went on to describe her own experience with the media during her sporting career. She said that comments such as: “too muscular” and “too much bulk” left her feeling helpless.
These words inspired her to join Dove’s #MyBeautyMySay campaign, which will see comments made in the media about female athletes broadcast on billboards in the US and Canada. Johnson is also encouraging consumers to tweet media outlets with the hashtag when they come across these stereotypes.
Research by brand-owner Unilever has found that women and girls with low body esteem are more likely to stop doing activities that they enjoy, including sports.