Elana Meyers Taylor is a badass on a bobsled. Coming into the Pyeongchang Olympics, she'd already won four gold medals at world championships — not to mention a bronze in Vancouver and a silver in Sochi. Tomorrow, she will pilot a two-man bobsled alongside teammate Lauren Gibbs, and the duo is a favorite to win the gold.
But when she’s not racing at 100mph (or pushing around 3,500lb SUVs to train), Meyers Taylor is a fierce advocate for gender equality. In 2014, she made headlines alongside Canada’s Kaillie Humphries for being one of the first women to pilot a mixed-gender four-man bobsled in the world championships.
“There is a stigma in our sport that men are the better drivers,” Meyers Taylor told USA Today Sports. “People think that because the men compete in two-man and four-man they are more versatile and that the women aren't great drivers. I think me and Kaillie have shown that we can drive just as well as the men. And that's really part of the challenge of it all. Going out there and showing that regardless of your gender you can succeed at a higher level.”
Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly), stigma and bias are just as pervasive at the Olympics. As recent commentary has confirmed, no matter how good you are, there’s someone out there with an opinion and an internet connection.
“The Olympics is a microcosm of everyday life,” Meyers Taylor told BUST via email. “[It isn’t] supposed to be political, but you can’t help the crossover.”
To fight back, Meyers Taylor chose to participate in Proctor & Gamble’s Love Over Bias campaign. Love Over Bias features athletes and their mothers in a series of promotional videos, sharing stories in an attempt to start conversations about bias in elite sports.
“Day in and day out, people are told they shouldn’t be able to do things based on their ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation,” Meyers Taylor said. “I’m so happy to be part of a campaign that’s working to prove those things wrong.”
Let’s be clear: Love alone isn’t enough to overcome bias. For that, we need systemic change (and a better president). But as Proctor and Gamble’s campaign shows, love helps victims of bias persevere — and in the case of Elana Meyers Taylor, it might just be enough to help her take home the gold.
Watch Meyers Taylor’s “Love Over Bias” video here:
Photo Credit: YouTube, Proctor & Gamble
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Victoria Albert is a Boston-born graduate journalism student. She covers reproductive justice, health policy, and feminism, and has written for In These Times and Alternet. She tweets at @victoria_alb3.