Why we need to #askhermore at The Olympics

With The Olympics over, many of us will either be feeling withdrawal symptoms or possibly  relief from the end of this year’s iconic Games, which have been dominating our screens from dawn ‘til dusk making every ordinary man and woman feel somewhat inadequate, eclipsed by these humble super-humans.

Over the last few weeks we have all been inspired to dust off our bicycles, dig out our trainers and join the local rowing club… That is until the weather changes, Christmas arrives and we fall back into a comfortable routine of eating our weight in chocolate and hibernating during the cold winter nights.

But please don’t be misled by my slightly bitter tone. Whilst I may have been more of a bookworm than a sportswoman growing up, I absolutely love The Olympic Games. I love the history, the achievements, the patriotism, the opulence and the inspiration people draw from watching ordinary people do extraordinary things.

And this year, I love the fact that women were centre stage.

Yes, this year we have had more female athletes than ever before; approximately 45% of participants. In fact, the number of women in the Olympics has doubled in the last 40 years and the 2016 Olympic Games featured a record of none other than 28 women’s sports.

Not bad, considering that whilst men have been competing in The Games for over 2000 years, women were only admitted just over a century ago.

But in the next Olympic Games, we need to #askhermore.

No more comments on hair styles. No more remarks about nail varnish. And most definitely, no more outfit analysis. No one has ever asked Andy Murray to give them a twirl, or commented on Michael Phelps hairstyle. And when was the last time someone told Usain Bolt to smile? Of course they wouldn’t. Because it’s patronising and pointless – all we really want to hear about are Andy’s secret techniques or Usain’s rigorous training regime.

So why is it not the same with our incredible female athletes? Why do the commentators so often ignore their incredible skills and abilities to focus instead on the amount of gemstones on their leotards or who their famous husband is (as if that is all that would define her – you may have won a gold medal, but I’m sure it can’t compare with being married to a famous movie star).

AskHerMoreOlympics
Credit: The Representation Project

NBC seems to be one of the worst offenders with biased coverage that included asking Ginny Thrasher, the Virginia shooter who won the first gold medal for the US, why she doesn’t smile when competing (?!) and going into an in depth analysis of the number of crystals on the US team’s gymnastic leotards, with their own team coordinator comparing their Olympic outfits to ‘little prom dresses’.

But closer to home, John Inverdale also congratulated Andy Murray on being the first person to win two tennis golds – forgetting that the Williams sisters have already achieved four medals each.

Twitter has been awash with public outcry about the state of the biased commentary around The Olympic Games, with people using the #askhermore hashtag to vent their frustration.

Capture
Credit: @alisonturkos

This archaic attitude to women in The Olympic Games makes me wonder why we were even deigned entry in the first place. But how can we change this? We need to look at the solutions as opposed to the problems.

Firstly, we need more female presenters and commentators; if we can have 45% female participants then why not 45% or even (God forbid) 50% of our presenters and commentators women? With a more balanced mix of both genders then we might finally get some balanced commentary.

Secondly, why are women so often thought as the weaker sex? Why in tennis do men play five sets while women only play three? Why are the men’s cycling road races 62 miles longer than the women’s? The Games have purposefully placed women on the back foot, on an uneven playing field and hindered their chances to truly measure up to men. Women are just as capable and it’s about time we stopped patronising them and let them shine.

We, both women and men, need to keep reminding the world that to be equal is not all about statistics, percentages and fulfilling a ‘quota’, but about how women are represented; with the same impartiality and objectivity as their male counterparts. Not emotional, but Courageous. Not defenceless, but Strong,

If you would like to find out more about the #askhermore campaign, take a look at The Representation Project.

Advertisements

Why Fashion Is Too Serious!

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Yes it is that time of year again… whilst the weather continues to bite and snow threatens,  Spring/ Summer 2016 is underway in the fashion world.

It is this time of the year, when bloggers of all disciplines suddenly become ‘Fashion Bloggers’ for the day in the hope of being given fun fashionable freebies to review, or being ‘spotted’ as the next Kate Moss.

(Due to not having tickets) I will not be joining them, but it did get me thinking about women and our complicated relationship with fashion.

Fun Fashion

Fashion happy smiling hipster cool girl in sunglasses and colorful clothes with skateboard having fun outdoors against the orange background
Vis iStock Photo

Bypassing the minefield of issues that I have with body image in the fashion world, where a size 10 is often considered a plus size, I love to observe how powerful fashion is at changing the overall mood of a person.

I don’t know if anyone ever saw ‘A Week Of Dressing Dangerously’ on BBC One? But I always remember an episode where one women spent a week wearing outrageous outfits, from pin-up to all in pink to bohemian, complete with dreds.

The transformation was incredible, this mousy woman felt liberated by her style and let go of herself. Her husband couldn’t believe who she had become and her family saw her in a whole new light. In short, fashion enabled her to let go of  all her inhibitions and she was able to just have fun with it.

Fashion doesn’t have always be so serious, sometime it is just fun for fun’s sake. We need to shrug off the judgmental snobbery and let go of what is ‘in-vogue’ and out.

Strong Fashion

iStock_000047102086_DoubleSaying that, I don’t consider myself the most ‘stylish’ of women. I get by on what I call a ‘classical’ style mainly  wearing a lot of black dresses and red lipstick. Though I would love pull off the high- end fashionista look, I just don’t have the time or the patience to invest in it. Plus I know that I am just not that cool.

The most stylish woman in my life is my mother. A woman who also wears a lot of black but doesn’t care what people think; she hates to follow fashions, loves colourful accessories and calls everyone ‘darling’. But it works well for her. It is what makes her unique.

My mother grew up in the 70’s working in the glamorous casinos of the West End, at a time when sexual equality was non-existent and you could get a ‘warning’ for not looking ‘dolled up enough’ or gaining weight. She would proudly tell me that she always looked immaculate for work, which to me felt like she was bowing to the pressure of a sexist and superficial organisation.

But she would always say the same thing (and it is a lesson that I have carried through my own working life):

“Clothes do more than just make you pretty. They can make you feel strong. Your dress is your armour and your make-up is your war paint. With these on you can go into work battle-ready.”

And she is so right.

Which is why every working day, no matter how I feel, – I put on mascara, throw on a pair of heels and smarten up with a jacket. And it always makes me feel ready to take on the world.

So whilst there are some that feel fashion as superficial, trivial and, in some cases, a way of objectifying women – true ‘fashion’, the fashion that we make for ourselves, is a way to have fun, show off and above all feel good about ourselves.

New York, NY - September 10, 2015: A model prepares backstage for the Desigual fashion show during the Spring Summer 2016 New York Fashion Week at The Arc - Skylight Moynihan Station
Via iStock Photo
Do you agree? Why not share your own fashion secrets…