Contrarily, in instances in which women are not portrayed as hyper feminine, they could be characterized as decidedly masculine. In fact, for
many female athletes, there can be a stigma that straight women can’t be athletes.“ When people hear that I’m straight, they’re like ‘what?!’,” said Raphael. Many advertisements highly emphasize a woman’s strong physical-
ity and rough and tough approach to her sport. Although a representation like this could be accurate for some female athletes, the intention is to highlight her sexual behavior (or lack thereof) in order to build a marketable persona. Female athletes don’t enjoy the
luxury of being “just athletes,” they must always confront the idea of being female first. Some women find it hard to navigate through these stark
portrayals, simply because capturing identity is not so black and white. The stress of always having to looking a part and capture the balance of femininity and athletic ability also affect the ways in which some female athletes view their own bodies.
Muelhbronner said, “The sports I played, I had to lift
[weights], and that obviously brought about a more masculine environment. Everyone was always concerned about, ‘Oh don’t lift too much, your muscles are going to start to get too big.”
There is a carefulness that is applied to both extremes. In an interview with Sports Illustrated Ronda Rousey says, “I’m comfortable with my sexuality. I needed good sexual role models as a teenager—that I felt I didn’t really have. I
was given an unrealistic expectation of what I, as a woman should look like. I want to be a healthy example of what could be desirable.” Advertisements should not encourage shaming the bodies
of women either. Some female athletes like Rousey see and maximize the power in their physiques, sexuality and also how their figures are a working component along with their skills. Amateur female boxer Jessica Laine recognizes her body type as a means for sexual expression but she is not
nized no matter what, someone shouldn’t be able to take
their eyes off of you,” Laine said. “I think that’s so evident in the case of female athletes because I feel like the women
who are always extremely beautiful, if they’re demolishing
their opponent you’re going to hear about them regardless.” Although her quick jabs and powerful blows speak for
themselves, she admits, “I feel like people also place the
burden on us where we can’t show our sexual sides. I do like the idea that people think I’m too pretty so I probably
really can’t box. They automatically underestimate me and that’s the best part. Then they see me in the ring and then they see that I can.”
Honoring the integrity of the individual is crucial to producing an accurate portrayal of not only the woman but also
the culture of women’s sports. Advertisements must aim to show the dimensions of female athletes and their sports.
Laine says, “They say boxing is a ‘sweet science’ because it truly is. Nothing is rehearsed. Once you go in there, you
literally have to move off of science and art. Things are hap-
pening so fast that you have to be sharp, be on it and calculate everything in your mind. That’s what makes it beautiful. Everybody can’t do that.”
In honoring the autonomy and sexual liberation of women
as athletes, the true beauty that exists in using the body to break records and win gruesome battles should be ac-
knowledged. It is also possible to celebrate the body as a
bound by it.
beautiful work of art, a powerful tool but it is most important
“If the person has enough skill where they have to be recog-
to face her opponents and attain victories.
to tell the story of the woman who pushes herself each day