The London 2012 Olympics are coming to an end, with amazing performances by Team USA’s female Olympians -- who, by the way, outnumbered their male counterparts for the first time ever (though you wouldn’t know it by a media coverage that has focused almost exclusively on Michael Phelps’ girlfriend and Ryan Lochte’s outdoor urinating habits).
However, the little media coverage and commentary these amazing female athletes have received has centered not on their admirable feats (whether these are Olympic medals, world or Olympic records) but on more superfluous things such as their physical appearance or mood changes.
From all-around gymnast Olympic champion Gabby Douglas’ hair, to soccer superstar Alex Morgan’s Sports Illustrated body painting photos, to swimmer Missy Franklin’s upcoming tattoo, to McKayla Maroney's “mean girl” attitude, the personas of these amazing female Olympians have been reduced to something that has nothing to do with sports and competition, and all to do with the objectification that women – athletes or not – have been subjected to from the dawn of time.
16-year-old Douglas, who helped bring home gold for the Women’s Gymnastics Team, is the first African-American to achieve the humbling honor. Yet, online commentary about Douglas has centered on her natural hair style; a controversy that sadly has racial undertones as highlighted by NBC’s poorly-timed promo for its upcoming show Animal Practice.
Another member of the U.S. female gymnastics team, 16-year-old McKayla Maroney, has also been victim of sexist reporting when after winning the silver medal (and looking rather disappointed during the ceremony) was dubbed a “mean girl” -- becoming a "McKayla is Not Impressed" meme.
Missy Franklin, the four-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer, has also made headlines recently…because of the tattoo she allegedly plans to get in London to celebrate her Olympic triumphs right before coming back home (and her parents are, like, so upset about it).
Lastly, Alex Morgan, the forward who led female soccer Team USA to the gold medal by helping to defeat World Champion Japan, is also one of the most-searched Olympic athletes right now. However, users aren't looking for Morgan's soccer stats. Instead, internet "enthusiasts" are searching for “Alex Morgan’s boyfriend” and “Alex Morgan’s Sports Illustrated body painting pictures.”
These examples make one wonder, if the amazing London 2012 performances of female American Olympians (who, besides Phelps, did more than male Olympians to keep the U.S. on top of the medal count) have not been enough to crack the glass ceiling; then, what will it take?