Soap Box is a chance for others to use the Whitelines platform to express their views, have a rant or just scream SNOWBOARDING into the eternal void of the internet. These opinions are not necessarily those of the WL editorial staff.
The Pros and Cons of Being a Fit Girl in Snowboarding
Let’s be honest now, hands up who hasn’t expressed an interest in Jamie Anderson’s nude photos for ESPN? Most of us will say, yes, we probably have, and why wouldn’t we? She’s an Olympic gold medalist, a leading athlete in her discipline… she’s also 23, has blonde hair and a nice bone structure, and hails from a land of geographical coolness.
Initially I was a little concerned for Jamie’s feelings; would being a naked cover girl make her feel as though she was a piece of meat? Would it make people care less about her snowboarding? (because those jauntily placed goggles on her head are drowned out by her boobs.) Would she feel undervalued as an athlete?
Apparently not. After hurting her foot the month before the shoot, Jamie was unfortunately unable to tighten up her abs, but claimed it was, ‘beneficial because I got to step back and embrace myself and how I am and not try to fit this Hollywood image of being really super skinny.’
For every thin blonde California girl there are four girls who are mousey brown with chubby bits from Stoke-on-Trent…
And that’s great for you Jamie, we should all be accepting of our own bodies. The problem is though, when you’re thin and blonde and you come from California, you’re already conforming to the western stereotype of beauty. And for every thin blonde California girl there are four girls who are mousey brown with chubby bits from Stoke-on-Trent, along with two guys in a similar situation. Whether we like it or not, we’re all being forced into this false perception of what beauty is, even in a field such as snowboarding, where most of the time we’re covered from head to toe and it’s hard to even tell a man from a woman.
But don’t worry, Jamie, it’s not your fault, you’re not the first snowboarder to get your kit off and you certainly won’t be the last. It’s the media. Of course it’s the media. I mean, come on ESPN, she’s already won a gold medal in the Olympics, are naked photos that necessary? Really?
If you visit the ESPN homepage, you will see it’s littered with photos of tastefully naked athletes, as a kind of weird highly photo-shopped pseudo art gallery that’s been edited within an inch of its life. It’s as if they’re saying; it’s OK to look because you can’t see their junk (that would be distasteful, of course), it’s, like, an exploration of the human body. But is it? Is it really? Or is it just an excuse for people to look at some naked pictures and not feel guilty because there are no nipples or penises? Oh, and they’re athletes. Don’t forget that bit. That’s what makes it ‘art.’
Maybe the issue shouldn’t even be that Jamie Anderson is naked. Maybe it should be, why does it matter? Getting naked isn’t going to make more people be like, ‘Oh I really want to be a snowboarder.’ Watching her actually snowboarding will do that. And it won’t increase her popularity for what she does, only for what she looks like, which isn’t really what snowboarding (or baseball, or surfing, or tennis for that matter) is about. It’s about having fun, and if looks are starting to come into it that much, then what does that say about snowboarding as a sport?
All it takes is one middle aged man who’s never even seen snow to grunt over you in the middle of the night and you’ve gone from snowboarder to sex symbol in less than three minutes
Thankfully, snowboarding is yet to be affected by what I like to call, the Alana Blanchard effect. Alana Blanchard, who, as Tetsuhiko Endo points out, is the most popular female surfer in the world, yet has come dead last in every event at this years’ ASP World Tour. However, she’s hot and she knows how to use social media, and in turn has become just a pair of tits with a surfboard. What’s kind of sad about the whole thing, Endo states, is that she won’t be remembered for her surfing, just as Marilyn Monroe isn’t remembered for her acting, and neither was Anna Kournikova known for her tennis, though none of these women are lacking talent in what they do. Anderson has an advantage here, because she’s already secured her spot as the best in the world, but all it takes is one middle aged man who’s never even seen snow to grunt over you in the middle of the night and you’ve gone from snowboarder to sex symbol in less than three minutes.
If more snowboarders start baring all for the camera, what will become of snowboarding as a sport? In a scene that is already incredibly difficult for women to make a proper career from, does it need to be made more difficult by getting their looks involved too? As a sport where the abilities level of women and men differs dramatically, the last thing female snowboarders need to be judged for are their bodies as well.
So put it away Jamie – you look good, but you look better fully clothed on a snowboard.
Chloe Hardy is a Morzine local and blogger, who has not yet been asked to pose nude for ESPN.
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