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Photo Credit: Citious Mag

Nike’s female Olympic track uniforms are over-sexualized. (Op-Ed)

Nike revealed several designs for women’s track athletes to be worn at the Paris Olympics this summer, and female athletes are not happy. One outfit in particular is drawing ire: a rather revealing, tight leotard with a particularly high cut on the hips. Even on the mannequin, you can see quite a lot of skin, and the female pubic mound is scantily covered. I would not feel comfortable wearing that to a pool party with my friends, much less in front of the entire world during an international sporting event. Hell, I couldn’t even fit into it myself, and if I did, my anatomy would be boldly on display. Responding to an Instagram post of the uniform from Citius magazine, U.S. long jumper Tara Davis-Woodhall — who finished sixth at the Tokyo games — wrote, “Wait my hoo haa is gonna be out.” Seriously, who designed this and thought it was a good idea for athletes?

American hurdler and 2008 Olympian Queen Harrison Claye also poked fun at the revealing outfit, tagging European Wax Center in the Citius post and asking, “Would you like to sponsor Team USA for the upcoming Olympic Games!?”

Nike claims to have worked extensively with athletes to deliver a promising performance, which is hard to believe. “Nike designed the Paris 2024 track and field kits to offer athletes a range of silhouettes tailored for various sport disciplines, body types, and sizes, prioritizing performance and maximum breathability,” Nike Chief Innovation Officer John Hoke said in a statement. Various body types, my ass. Only a small number of women are going to be able to be fully covered by this leotard.

Former track star Lauren Fleshman, who won five NCAA championships and two national championships as a professional, took a less humorous approach, seeing the leotard as “a costume born of patriarchal forces that are no longer welcome or needed to get eyes on women’s sports.” This particular kit looks to be made for the male gaze, drawing the eyes directly to the pubic area rather than providing any kind of benefit. “I’m sorry, but show me one WNBA or NWSL team who would enthusiastically support this kit,” Fleshman wrote on Instagram, “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. This is not an elite athletic kit for track and field.”

It is incredibly concerning to see an outfit this revealing, this sexualized, and this uncomfortable come from Nike for the Olympics. Do better. Female athletes don’t want to be objectified and sexualized, they want to perform well and take home the gold.

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