Leave it to Fox News to serve up the most inappropriate, immaterial Olympics coverage known to mankind (and NBC correspondent Alessandra Ambrosio has festively attempted to teach Ryan Lochte the Portuguese word for Speedo on live TV, so that’s saying something). On August 3, Fox dedicated its Sports Court segment to dissecting the pressing issue of whether the (strong, talented, driven, superhuman) female athletes at the Rio Olympics should be wearing makeup and, if so, how much, and to what end? Congratulations Fox, you win the gold medal for irresponsible journalism.
The mediator of the six-minute conversation, host Tamara Holder, got things started with the line, “We all know the old adage ‘sex sells,’ well, now, female Olympians are sexing it up more than ever by wearing makeup during their competitions. Some say this is about empowerment, well, really? Do women who are elite athletes need to wear makeup to feel stronger, or is it simply a fashion statement?” Cringe.
Do women feel undue societal pressure to look good in front of mass audiences? In many cases, yes, and with good reason — studies have shown that men associate a whole raft of attributes to well-groomed women. Could Simone Biles take home the gold sans sparkly eyeliner? Duh At the end of the day, an Olympian’s decision to wear makeup is a personal one — she should do whatever makes her feel more herself, more confident. Which begs the question…why is this discussion relevant?
As the ensuing, insipid commentary by former NYPD detective Bo Dietl and radio host Mark Simone (both clearly experts on the topics of beauty and feminism) quickly reminded viewers, it’s not. “The whole point of the Olympics…is product endorsements. Cosmetic companies are opening up a ton of revenue for product endorsements,” began Simone. Yes, these women have dedicated their lives to grueling training all for a chance to sell lipstick. *Bangs head against wall.*
Not to have his ignorance one-upped, Dietl chimed in, “I think when you see an athlete, why should I have to look at some chick’s zits? Why not a little blush on her lips and cover those zits! I like to see a person who wins that gold medal go up there and look beautiful.” As if acne were a way to measure an individual’s worth. As if groundbreaking athletic achievements don’t speak for themselves.
At this point viewers are silently praying Jimmy Kimmel barges onto the set and proclaims the whole thing a massive prank, but no. To make matters worse, the men go on to proclaim the Olympics an elaborate beauty pageant. Holder asks, “So do you think that this is a competition among the women to be more sexy and more beautiful?” Dietl and Simone wholeheartedly agree. And P.S., throughout the segment, both commenters (particularly Dietl) objectify Holder, using her makeup and revealing outfit to underscore their points about how a woman should look. Somewhere in the world, Holder is updating her LinkedIn.
Instead of talking about how much these amazing young athletes have accomplished for themselves and for Team USA, instead of talking about how this is the most inclusive Olympics to date, Fox chose to belittle our female competitors and give voice to the notion that the most important thing about a woman is her looks. Can we try Sports Court for treason?
Take a deep, calming breath and watch the full video here.
[ via Teen Vogue ]