Last week, when tennis champ Marion Bartoli won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, a BBC reporter remarked during her final match that the athlete wasn’t “a looker.” Sports fans joined in, flooding social media with insults about Bartoli’s appearance, deriding her for not being more attractive.
The assumption that all women, no matter how accomplished, should be judged on the basis of their sexual desirability is not a new one. And its pervasiveness is demonstrated in almost every professional sport, especially when it comes to advertising.
Even Roxy, a company that promotes women surfers, recently released a new ad that’s essentially one long tight-shot of an anonymous female surfer’s rear end—as if that was the sum total of her identity and worth. Male athletes on the other hand are simply not portrayed that way.
Mercifully, the answer to Roxy’s ad seems to be ESPNw’s recently launched spot. Acclaimed director Ramaa Mosley created this piece titled, “Girls Like Us (Show Up to Win).”
What makes it so unusual is that there are no slow-mo shots of sexualized body parts, no reverence paid at all to erotic desirability. Instead, there are just clips of athletes—women too busy killing it on the field to care about much else.
Spanning across multiple sports like basketball, swimming and tennis, the spot glorifies women for being tough, tenacious and driven to achieve.
It’s not about being “feminine” or “masculine”—it’s about skill and accomplishment. And that is how to give any athlete, male or female, their proper due. Roxy, we hope you're paying attention.
What’s your take on the two ads? Let us know in the Comments.