Nike’s Olympic uniforms prove sexist

Ahead of the Paris Olympic Games this summer, Nike has released their designs for the U.S. men’s and women’s track and field team uniforms. Athletes and followers of the games have noticed a blatant difference between the design choices for the uniforms and questioned Nike’s intentions. 

The leotard in the women’s uniform collection features an unreasonably high bikini line. While Nike and USA track and field representatives have claimed that they worked closely with the athletes and considered their preferences, body types and high-caliber athletic performances, it’s difficult to ignore just how cumbersome these uniforms could be for them. 

Former track and field athlete for the U.S. Lauren Fleshman expressed her frustrations with the newly-announced uniforms, especially regarding the clear discrepancy between the men’s and women’s uniforms. 

“Women’s kits should be in service to performance, mentally and physically. If this outfit was truly beneficial to physical performance, men would wear it,” she stated in an Instagram post. An athlete’s mental preparedness is a large part of their success in the games, and the added worry of if the uniform will fail and embarrass them is an extra layer of pressure that can be avoided. 

Some athletes have come forward in support of the significantly smaller uniform design and have pointed out that the athletes have a choice in what they choose to compete in, but the root issue remains. 

Uniforms that unnecessarily sexualize the female athletes should never have been approved. The Olympics’ spectacle is the athletes’ incredible feats, and it should remain that way. The athletes’ bodies should not have to become the focal point. Olympians deserve to be respected and not objectified while participating in the most important athletic event of their lives. Clearly, Nike did not have that respect for the athletes as a top priority.


Featured photo courtesy of Erik van Leeuwen, Wikipedia