Excited to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi over the next weeks, the Russian team released a new campaign consisting of photographs meant to entice viewers with only the "most photogenic" female athletes. The message? Our women are hot, so you should watch. As reported by Policy Mic’s Matt Essert, the Russian team released the images to challenge the idea that women athletes can’t be sexy and “feminine;” rather than kissing their guns, they display their dewey flesh and erect nipples. It's always great to see a woman expressing her sexuality, but the objectifying poses and stark difference from similar press images covering the Russian male athletes, fully clothed and playing their sports, is disturbing.
The images so obviously fail to send any empowering or subversive message, their near-nudity qualified by the selective casting process and the resultant suggestion that all Russian women conform to the same standard of beauty as defined by white skin, narrow waists, and full breasts. I guess even the best female athletes in the world need to be oiled and dressed in lingerie in order to attract fans. As if we needed another reason-- aside from the human and animal rights violations-- to be disturbed by the Russian government and media’s role in this year’s Olympics. Of course, this particular faux pas in indicative of a global problem; this kind of hyper-sexualized imagery is equally pervasive in America.
Under soft lighting that creates “feminine” tones characteristic of glamour photographs, these incredible athletes are asked to transform a microphone into a stripper pole, luxuriate on silk sheets, and apply perfume in their underwear and heels. If we want female athletes to get the respect and fandoms they deserve, this degrading and pathetically disappointing campaign certainly isn’t the way to go. It's about time we-- in America and as a global community-- stopped sending the message that a woman's path to success is through her objectification.
Thanks to Policy Mic
Images via Policy Mic