Why are we still policing women’s clothing?

Too much skin, too little skin the world always has to comment

In the run up to the Olympics I read two articles that related to women’s clothing in sport. The first was about a Paralympian Olivia Breen, who had been chastised for the length of her running shorts. Surprise, surprise they were considered too short.

The second was about the Norwegian women’s beach volleyball team. In this case the women had chosen to wear shorts as opposed to the regulation bikini bottoms. Perversely, their clothing seemed to be a little too long… You’re at the beach girls, take some clothes off. They were in fact even fined for their choice.

I have yet to read a single article about men’s clothing in sport in the run-up to this Olympics, because men always make perfect clothing choices and never look funny or inappropriate. It’s perfectly fine for men to go running in nothing but shorts, they are men, it is proper to see their chests even if it’s a chilly summer day.

Why is everyone so hung up about what a woman chooses to put on her body? Be it the mini skirt or the Burkha, people, often men feel the need to wade in and decry clothes as too revealing or, just as maddeningly, not revealing enough. Make your mind up guys, what are we allowed to wear..?

Never mind that the example I have given is of both sides of the fence. Either, “Olivia, how dare you bare so much skin.” Or, “Norway, we want to see your bums to full effect in revealing beach wear.”

Both these examples are not just dealing with any old attire, but clothing chosen for sporting prowess. So in this instance couldn’t we credit the athletes with the intelligence of choosing clothing appropriate and well-suited for winning in their chosen field.

Perhaps Olivia is more effective in more revealing and thus perhaps less restrictive clothing and the Norwegian team can concentrate on the ball better if their bikini bottoms aren’t riding up.

Why are women’s clothes of such intense interest to the whole world? Clothing choices are not dangerous, unless you are talking about not wearing a hard hat to a building site, as I notice a lot of Sikh men doing (presumably they trust their turban).

Yet no articles have yet exploded discussing Sikh men’s hard hats choices. Though you will find plenty of literature on the mini skirt and the Burkha, both for and against, as if it could completely destabilise the world.

Women first wearing trousers was seen as revolutionary at one time. Trousers for flips sake. Yet we are still not past this. What a woman wears, even in sport now it seems is of great public and media attention.

As women we still have our clothing choices policed, whether we choose to heed it or not. Enough already. If you like my style great, if not, it really is not that important is it..?

Please see below for the articles that inspired this piece of writing:




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Sarah Morgan

I am an experienced journalist. My first joint book on mental health recovery was published in 2011. I was short-listed for aviation journalism awards in 2010.