Will gymnastics change their dress code?


photo via Bryan Allison under the creative commons license

This women’s line up for a gymnastics competition was published on flickr and the degrading comments on these athletes’ bodies was incredibly concerning. Rather than commenting on their gymnastics prowess, it was all about their bodies.

Gymnastics is a sport of strength, agility, rhythm and stamina with a skimpy dress code. Many other women-dominated sports share a dress code of short skirts, pants or suits. Examples of these sports are dance, tennis, track, volleyball and more.

A German gymnast, Sarah Voss has recently raised concerns with this dress code norm for women.

The gymnastics industry has a history of sexualizing girls, and some women in the sport feel uncomfortable from this. An example of this is the gymnastic coach, John Geddert, who was guilty of sexual assault, physical abuse, and even human trafficking of his athletes. Many girls may even just feel uncomfortable with showing so much skin, when they don’t even have to.

The sexualization of women has gone on, and still continues to go on. For example, this is a men’s gymnastics uniform:

Oklahoma gymnast demonstrating his full length pants. (Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman)

And this is a woman’s gymnastics uniform:

UCLA gymnast mid-jump during a hymnastics meet. (Fotos_PDX photo under creative commons license )

In these photos, they are both doing a similar pose, but the outfits are much different. Sarah Voss suggests that they do something similar to what the men’s uniform looks like. A regular leotard, but instead of the bottom looking like a pair of underwear, long pants that end just above the ankles.

Gymnastics is not the only sport that suffers from over-sexualization of women. Some examples are in track, and tennis.

Venezuelan Olympic silver medalist Yulimar Rojas at a track meet in Paris (photo via Yaan Caradec under creative commons license )


Texas’s A&M University tennis athlete mid-game. (Stuart Seegar photo under creative commons license )










Rojas, the woman on the left, is basically wearing a bathing suit which there’s nothing wrong with if she’s comfortable with the outfit. The same case is with the tennis player on the right.  The bottoms she is wearing are extremely short. None of these things would be an issue if there were alternate choices to what was given.

In my opinion, if the person is comfortable with the clothes they were first given, then there is no problem; however, I think it becomes an issue when there are no alternate options for the girls who are uncomfortable with it.

I also think that we have normalized the sexualization of women in sports (and in many other areas for that matter) into society so much that it would be weird to ask for something more.