My Daughter Asked Why We Were Seeing So Many Women’s “Butts” While Watching The Olympics
I love watching the Olympics on TV just like so many other people around the world. When I was a young girl I loved it as well — especially women’s figure skating, gymnastics, swimming, and diving.
Imagine my absolute delight this year when my own daughter showed a keen interest in watching some of the Summer Olympic events with me. I was thrilled!
We started off with women’s gymnastics, which she was into herself for a while. As we watched the gymnasts perform in their usual skin-tight leotards with very little coverage on their backsides, I commented out loud that the women’s German gymnastics team had decided to wear full-body leotards which covered their backsides and their legs.
My daughter immediately responded to my comment explaining that the leotards were one of the reasons why she had decided to quit gymnastics — because she didn’t like her “butt hanging out all the time.”
She’s 9 years old. This was news to me. I mean, we stopped going to her gymnastics classes when Covid hit because they shut down for months and she actually found a new sport she loved even more. I had never heard her talk about her feelings regarding the gymnastics leotards before.
But it’s a no-brainer, right? How can anyone not see how uncomfortable many of the girls in gymnastics classes appear to be in their leotards? It’s especially difficult for young girls when they start going through puberty and their body often takes an awkward journey that triggers lots of insecurity about their looks.
I consider myself to be pretty body-positive with my daughter and open about preparing for stuff like puberty, body changes, sexuality, etc., but even with all that, she’s bound to have something she doesn’t like about her body at some point. Most of us do.
Unfortunately, it does seem as though, for females, choosing a certain sport means wearing revealing clothing.
This was most stunningly highlighted when we watched the women’s swimming events and diving.
“Wow, now I’m really seeing a lot of butts, mom!” My daughter exclaimed.
Indeed we were. I’m not just talking about swimsuit wedgies. These women were wearing bathing suits that literally didn’t seem to be made with enough material to cover even a small bottom, much less a more voluptuous one.
Quite frankly, it was embarrassing — but all I could do in the moment was direct my daughter’s attention to the actual skills being performed and talk about what amazing athletes these women were.
Even my husband was shocked by the amount of skin being shown in these events — and some of these competitors were teenagers which made it even more disturbing.
I don’t remember the bathing suits being quite that revealing when I was a kid watching women in the Olympics, but the fact that my daughter noticed it really made me think. She also noticed the differences between men and women. The men in gymnastics don’t have their butts hanging out.
In the end, I really didn’t have a solid answer for my daughter about why the women athletes had to show so much of their body — specifically their backsides — to be the greatest in the world at what they do.
It IS possible to wear something more comfortable as the German team in women’s gymnastics so beautifully proved. They looked fantastic and I hope the trend continues.
I don’t know if ALL women gymnasts, swimmers, or divers feel uncomfortable or sexualized in the clothing they have to wear to compete. I just know that if my 9-year-old daughter thinks it’s weird to compete in the Olympics with your butt hanging out for all the cameras and world to see, then maybe it’s time for a change.
Note: If you’d like to support my writing or this publication, you can donate $5 or more at my ko-fi site. No subscriptions or strings attached unless you want them to be! You can also sign up for The Pondering Newsletter at Substack here.
More from Michelle…