At this year’s Olympics, the German women’s gymnastics team chose the sort of uniforms usually worn by athletes from religiously conservative nations, rather than more typical, and more revealing, attire. The Norwegian women’s handball team, meanwhile, has incurred fines for disregarding the regulations in order to wear something more modest while competing. Bethany Mandel comments:
The International Handball Federation requires women to wear bikini bottoms “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg,” per the New York Times. The sides of the bikini bottoms must be no more than four inches wide. However, men can wear shorts as long as four inches above the knee so long as the shorts are “not too baggy.”
The fact that it’s harder to find modest clothing choices as a female is no secret to women and mothers of girls everywhere. What’s encouraging about this moment is that the concept of modesty isn’t just becoming more mainstream outside of religious and conservative circles, but that women fighting for the right to dress as they please aren’t just battling for the right to dress provocatively anymore.
No, we’re finally acknowledging that it’s just as empowering to cover up as it is to flaunt our bodies. And that cultural encouragement girls feel to show more, not less? We’re finally acknowledging that it’s not about empowerment, it’s about sexualization.
These young ladies’ push for more control over their uniforms cuts to the heart of why they’re opting for more modest choices: they want to control how sexualized their bodies are by those who are profiting off of them.