Dove Attacks How The Media Describes Female Athletes

Dove Attacks How The Media Describes Female Athletes
SHARE
THIS



In the next evolution of its “My Beauty, My Say” campaign, Dove has partnered with former American artistic gymnast Shawn Johnson to call out the media’s attention on a female athletes look and body, not their sporting talent.

The campaign uses digital interactive billboards in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto to broadcast actual sexist comments – like “Hot Blonde”, “Huge Nipples” and “Frizzy Hair”- that the media has used to describe female athletes. Dove has been collecting sexist comments since early June, as the comments appear over images of women playing sports, the athletes image will disappear.

Jennifer Bremner, director of marketing for Dove said: “Instead of focusing on their athletic performance, they’re often talking about—whether it’s their clothing or their looks—it’s probably not appropriate to refer to women’s nipples or ass when they’re talking about their athletic performance.

“The Dove #MyBeautyMySay campaign shines a spotlight on this commonplace behaviour of judging a female athlete by her looks in the name of ‘journalism’. This has to stop. It’s time to set the bar higher and change the conversation.”

Dove has launched another hub “Dove Have Your Say” where people are encouraged to tweet at media outlets whose coverage perpetuates this negativity and question their focus on female athletes’ looks using the #MyBeautyMySay hashtag.

SHAWN JOHNSON’s OPEN LETTER

“Hot Blonde.” “Huge Nipples.” “Frizzy Hair.” These are just a few of the descriptions of other female athletes I have recently seen in the media. Regardless of how strong these women’s performances were, at the end of the day, the media and the world still continue to layer commentary about their looks into their reporting of the sport. I have continuously been inspired by the Dove real beauty mission throughout my career. So, when I heard the brand was launching the #MyBeautyMySay campaign to challenge the way female athletes are represented in the media, I knew I had to be a part of it. It’s time to focus on all athletes’ performance, not their appearance. I know, because I was targeted with invasive comments about my body—starting when I was just 16 years old.

Criticism is nothing new in the sports industry, but around 2008 was the first time that the gymnastics world was seeing success from someone who was powerful, who was more about strength than grace. In interviews, I was asked, “Do you think you’ll be successful, since you have a different body style than a normal gymnast?” Journalists, commentators, and anchors kept comparing my body to those of my teammates as a way to question my performance skillset, and it didn’t stop there.

I was at this competition to compete as a world-class athlete, but so much of the conversation was about how I looked. I was being told by the media, and the world, that I was “too muscular,” that I had “too much bulk,” that I was “too short,” that I “looked too young.” People even said that I had “big ears!”

Because of all those comments, I was constantly aware of aesthetics. I tried to figure out how to do my hair and makeup and make my leotard look better. I even remember going into the cafeteria and questioning what I should eat. I needed a lot of fuel, but all I kept thinking about   was what I had been told about my weight, and I thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t eat as much, so I can shed a few pounds to potentially win.” With the commentators and the news reporters focused on a topic that had nothing to do with my sport and my hard work, I felt helpless.

In the end, though, my confidence in my athletic ability was enough. I was able to push those thoughts away and win. But I wonder what gymnastics and women’s sports overall would look like if the athletes could focus solely on their performance.

I partnered with Dove on the #MyBeautyMySay campaign to challenge the way women are represented in the media. One of the parts I’m most excited about: Starting in late July, there will be billboards in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto broadcasting actual comments people in media are making about female athletes’ appearance, which Dove started collecting in June. As the comments appear, the women in the billboard will disappear. Because when the media only sees a female athlete’s looks, we don’t see her at all—it ends up trivializing her achievements. You can have a say, too. Take a stand and visit Dove.com/HaveYourSay to Tweet at media whose coverage perpetuates this negativity using the hashtag #MyBeautyMySay.

Let’s put an end to a world where women’s athletics involve pressure to compete for things that have nothing to do with their sport: to become the world’s sexiest female athlete, or land a coveted magazine cover. After all, certain stories or photo shoots can wind up objectifying who you are instead of respecting you as an athlete. A study found that 64% of female athletes featured in the media are shown in passive poses—meaning glamorous or sexy—compared to a majority of male athletes, who are portrayed emphasizing their skill in their sport.1

And all of this matters. We have to teach women and girls that they can be athletes without worrying about their appearance. Research by Dove found that 85% of women and 79% of girls with low body-esteem are more likely to stop doing the things they love, including opting out of sports activities, if they don’t feel good about the way they look.

If you have a girl in a gym putting in the work, but you still keep critiquing her body, she’s going to lose confidence, because she’s going to feel helpless. If you allow an athlete, male or female, to earn respect based on their ability, hard work, and performance, then you let them earn confidence in themselves.

It’s time to set the bar higher. Will you join me?

Shawn Johnson

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Freeview Recognised At International HbbTV Awards
  • Marketing
  • Media

Freeview Recognised At International HbbTV Awards

Freeview Australia has been awarded Best Marketing or Promotion of an HbbTV Based Service at the inaugural HbbTV Awards, announced last week in Rome. Run by the HbbTV Association, the global awards attracted 71 entries from 17 countries and recognise the best adoption of HbbTV (hybrid broadcast broadband TV), technical excellence and commercial advantage. Freeview […]

D’Marge Partners With Virgin For New Edition Of ‘Shut Up & Take My Money’ Mag
  • Media

D’Marge Partners With Virgin For New Edition Of ‘Shut Up & Take My Money’ Mag

After its debut attempt at print, Aussie publisher D’Marge has rolled the dice again on its first ever print product. Shut Up & Take My Money flagrantly celebrates materialism and the good life, with the new edition seeing the magazine’s editorial team travel to Apple’s futuristic new headquarters in Cupertino, California for the launch of the iPhone […]

New Conference To Reveal Purchasing Power Of Aussie Mums
  • Marketing

New Conference To Reveal Purchasing Power Of Aussie Mums

Australian mums are a powerful, highly educated, cashed-up and discerning group that are using the power of the internet and social media to make – or break – brands. Mums don’t just buy a brand because of its price or availability – they use the power of online reviews, their knowledge about brand’s ethical behaviour […]

How The AFL Won The Social Media Grand Final (But The NRL Scored With Macklemore)
  • Marketing
  • Media

How The AFL Won The Social Media Grand Final (But The NRL Scored With Macklemore)

As AFL’s Richmond Tigers and NRL’s Melbourne Storm bask in the glory of their Premiership victories, another war was waging across social media. Sports social content platform 20FOUR today revealed the winner in the battle of the footy codes, declaring the AFL victorious over the NRL in audience engagement during this year’s grand final. Just over 3.5 million people tuned in to watch the […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Female Industry Leaders To Help Launch Unique Walking Tribe In Melbourne
  • Advertising
  • Marketing

Female Industry Leaders To Help Launch Unique Walking Tribe In Melbourne

After successfully launching in Sydney and Brisbane in the past year, Mentor Walks has announced it is expanding to Melbourne with the help of some female industry leaders. How Mentor Walks works is through a small group of senior female executive leaders who agree that, when they are available, will be part of a monthly […]

The Core Agency Wins Key Pharmaceuticals Creative Account
  • Advertising

The Core Agency Wins Key Pharmaceuticals Creative Account

Key Pharmaceuticals has announced it has selected The Core Agency to manage strategy and creative duties for its stable of brands, following a competitive creative pitch. The Sydney independent agency will become the lead agency for all Key Pharmaceuticals brands across Australia and New Zealand, which include Blistex and Hamilton. A spokesperson for Key Pharmaceuticals […]

App Annie Announces New Managing Director For APAC
  • Technology

App Annie Announces New Managing Director For APAC

App market data and analytics company App Annie has announced the appointment of Cindy Deng as its new managing director for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Deng joins App Annie with more than 18 years’ experience in enterprise IT, digital advertising, data analytics, and data management. In her most recent role at Turn, she was responsible […]

New Editor For GQ Australia
  • Media

New Editor For GQ Australia

Unfortunately, it's no more Lowes or Roger David for Michael Christensen after being named fashion organ's top tamale.

QMS Goes West With ‘The Leeder’
  • Advertising
  • Media

QMS Goes West With ‘The Leeder’

QMS Media continues to expand its digital portfolio across Western Australia, switching on an iconic billboard in the heart of Perth. Following the launch of two new digital billboards in the major WA regional centres of Bunbury and Kalgoorlie in recent months, ‘The Leeder’ further delivers on QMS’ digital expansion strategy out west. Positioned at […]

PR Firm Text100 Wins NetApp Account For APAC
  • Marketing

PR Firm Text100 Wins NetApp Account For APAC

Global marketing communications agency Text100 has announced it been appointed by data management company NetApp to drive its brand transformation effort across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Following local competitive pitches conducted across the region, Text100 has been appointed as the APAC lead agency out of Singapore, and as the local agency of record in Australia, […]

MFA Awards 2017 Winners Revealed!
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

MFA Awards 2017 Winners Revealed!

B&T once again donned the tux, applied the Brut, and primed the liver for last night's MFA Awards in Sydney.

Concrete Playground Launches Voice-activated Nightlife Guide With Google Assistant
  • Media
  • Technology

Concrete Playground Launches Voice-activated Nightlife Guide With Google Assistant

Digital publisher Concrete Playground has unveiled a new app that helps Millennials plan their night out using voice control – the first of its kind to become available in Australia. Concrete Playground’s Guide to Tonight now works with Google Assistant, making it available on a range of Google devices and helping people to decide what […]

Digital Agency Inlight Secures Two Key Client Wins
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Digital Agency Inlight Secures Two Key Client Wins

Independent agency Inlight has announced it has won the digital account for Benetas, a not-for-profit aged care provider in Victoria. Following a competitive pitch process, Inlight was chosen to handle Benetas’ new website design, build and ongoing optimisation. Richard Barker, marketing manager at Benetas, said: “We wanted an agency that could be our true digital […]

AMI Awards 2017 Winners Revealed!
  • Marketing

AMI Awards 2017 Winners Revealed!

With almost 30 awards handed out, B&T predicts plenty of numb bottoms at last night's AMI Awards in Melbourne.

Clems Sydney CEO Andy Pontin Quits
  • Advertising

Clems Sydney CEO Andy Pontin Quits

Sure, B&T flashed the news of Andy Pontin quitting this morning. White lies aside, he's actually still got six months.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Adobe MAXes Most Creatives In A Room Record
  • Advertising
  • Media

Adobe MAXes Most Creatives In A Room Record

B&T's journo is reporting live from the annual Adobe Summit in Vegas. Although, "reporting" is somewhat of a stretch.

Opinion

by David Hovenden

David Hovenden
Digital Women’s Network & The Australian College Of Marketing Unveil Latest Short Courses
  • Marketing

Digital Women’s Network & The Australian College Of Marketing Unveil Latest Short Courses

The Australian College of Marketing is collaborating with the Digital Women’s Network to bring new short courses aimed to provide the latest skills across all aspects of the Digital landscape, kicking off in Melbourne and Sydney in 2018. Course content will focus around various topics related to the digital marketing landscape. All courses will run […]

Man working at office desk, looking at computer and scratching head
  • Technology

Where Are Digital & Tech Skills & Salaries Headed?

The rapid pace of technological change in the digital sector is seeing demand for those with the right skill sets outstrip availability, both locally and globally. The individuals who have kept their skills up to date are being well-rewarded financially. Now, Digital + Technology Collective’s expanded annual Skills and Salary Survey will put some numbers and context […]

Disney & ESPN Unify Sales & Partnerships Teams
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Disney & ESPN Unify Sales & Partnerships Teams

Disney and ESPN have formed an even closer bond, announcing a new alignment of the two properties through their media sales and partnerships teams. Instead of entering through three doors, Disney ESPN Media Sales & Partnerships will give media buyers and marketers a refined, singular point of entry for Disney, ESPN Digital and Maker. Nik […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Sydney Start-up Muzaara Partners With Commission Factory To Turbocharge Digital Ad Spends
  • Advertising
  • Marketing

Sydney Start-up Muzaara Partners With Commission Factory To Turbocharge Digital Ad Spends

Sydney-based adtech start-up Muzaara has announced a new strategic partnership with performance marketing platform Commission Factory. Together, Muzaara and Commision Factory are providing SMEs with a secret weapon to skyrocket their online brand visibility and effectively manage and maximise their online advertising campaigns. This partnership will allow both online marketing companies and their impressive roster […]