Mental Health Bites

Lessons from the Olympics

In my mind the Olympics should be a wonderful acknowledgment of exactly what the human body is capable of, it should display to us the great value of all different body types, and it should showcase the great athletic talent of people irrespective of gender. In that sense the Olympics has the potential to be a great asset to the body positive movement – and in showing to all of those in a battle with their bodies that your body is worthy irrespective of its shape, size or colour.

This is unfortunately not the message being broadcast by the general media. I have been utterly flabbergasted at some of the sexist, negatively aesthetically focused (verging on bullying) comments, posts and articles.

I could not even begin to include all of the angering comments here – and in many ways don’t want to – but to give you an idea; we have seen Corey Cogdell win a bronze medal for trap shooting but be referred to not by her name, but as the wife of a professional football player – as if the person she chose to marry is somehow more significant than her Olympic achievement. I hope you hear my very strong note of irony when I say obviously every girls main goal in life should be to marry a footballer.

When five-time long-course world champion Katinka Hosszu won gold this week, not once but three times, the commentator praised her husband as ‘the guy responsible’ rather than acknowledging the swimmers great skills, determination and achievement. This one caused so much uproar that the commentator was forced to defend his choice of words.

Perhaps the worst of all I have seen was with regards to gymnast Alexa Moreno  (who bullies chose to refer to as a ‘pig’) as twitter trolls made some hugely body shaming and distasteful comments. I for one would be thrilled if my body was capable of just a 10th of what hers is!


Lastly we had a Daily Mail editor make an astonishingly ignorant comment about one of our own; gold medal winner: Joanna Rowsell. Joanna has a condition known as alopecia which results in hairloss. The Daily Mail chose to crop Joanna out of a front page photograph of her and her team mates – the editor defending this action saying that “We can’t put a bald woman, regardless of what a magnificent example of female athleticism and achievement she is, on the cover of The Daily Mail, people are eating.” I don’t even have words for this one!

So overall I’m pretty devastated about what this horrendous news coverage suggests about society’s perception of women and of beauty. This cannot continue – women (and men!) should be respected, praised, and admired based upon their achievements and what they choose to do with their lives not on the way they look. And it should NEVER be okay to devalue people based only on superficial nonsense.

They say “be the change you want to see in the world”, and so today I ask you to remember to praise someone for their achievements, instead of commenting on how pretty their outfit is or how much weight they have lost. Please…..

One thought on “Lessons from the Olympics

  1. STELLA Neophytou

    Unfortunately this kind of sexist dialogue is still very common. We talk the equality talk but we are still a long way off valuing people equally. The sex discrimination act came in in 1975 and we still are hearing the same old stories of discriminatory practices and inappropriate language because largely it goes unchallenged. Even those who do challenge this behaviour many times are left feeling marginalised, demoralised and disempowered by the process.

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