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Why must softball game prep include bronzer and eyeliner?

January 14, 2010 – 4:15 AM

By Megan Wood

My final college softball season starts in three weeks. Time to worry about my makeup and hair?

Softball may be a serious, competitive, slide-in-the-dirt sport, but as it grows in popularity (and TV interest), there is heightened attention — to looking good.

When I tuned into the Women’s College World Series on ESPN at the end of last season, it hit me: The players sported a perfect ponytails, sparkly headbands and ribbons — and enough layers of make-up to suit them for a magazine spread. From the shoulders up, they were vying for Miss Teen USA, not an NCAA national title.

One has only to read the coverage to discover that, like competitors in a beauty pageant, players actually schedule pre-game time for hair and makeup.

These women are fierce competitors and I know they mean business. We may be accustomed to noting perfect hair and makeup in gymnastics, but in women’s softball? (check out a few photos here, here, here, and here). Does Derek Jeter take time for foundation and bronzer before stepping onto the field?

Why must  female softball players reinforce their “girly” side, particularly for ESPN cameras? Doesn’t this hinder the message of female athletic empowerment that the Women’s College World Series is meant to convey?

Sure, we are all aware of the stereotypical line about softball —  that everyone is lesbian, that we are “dykes on spikes.” Why is it that no matter what sport women participate in that still today — it’s 2010! — gender and sexuality must take center stage over raw talent, athletic ability — and the drama of the game?

Wearing gobs of makeup (look at stills or clips and it’s not just a swipe of blush) during a national championship does not prove some quasi-feminist point that you can be cute and athletic at the same time. Rather, it reveals to the girls who are watching that no matter how strong, fast, talented or competitive they are that how they look matters most.  The Women’s College World Series is an opportunity to collapse female stereotypes of passivity and weakness, yet it’s become a stage to codify and perpetuate them.

And it’s not just softball. Just in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics, Lancome has unveiled a cosmetic line apparently inspired by the female athletes who will be competing for a gold medal.

Please, fellow female athletes, let’s stop getting dolled up to compete. Leave heavy make-up and perfect hair for dinner or the runway — not the diamond.

  1. 7 Responses to “Why must softball game prep include bronzer and eyeliner?”

  2. THANK YOU!!!! This definitely needs to be republished in May during softball’s primetime. I spoke of the same thing in one of my podcasts a few years back. Sometimes I really think women’s sports takes two steps forward and then a step back. I mean, its good that softball is becoming very popular, but wearing a ton of makeup isn’t helping the cause. It’s as if some softball players are over compensating by wearing makeup and ribbons. Maybe because, generally speaking, softball is seen as a “lesbian sport” and the players don’t want to appear masculine or “butch” in anyway.

    By Zalika Green on Jan 14, 2010

  3. Female athletic empowerment like female empowerment in politics, law, medicine, education, finance, etc.,has very little to do with how a woman wears her hair or how often she reaches for the eyeliner. Women who have reached the pinnacle in their field generally dance to the beat of their own drum, are confident in the choices they make and if showing their “girlie” side is what they choose, so be it.The photos of the women in the above entry (here, here and here)leave no doubt that these athletes are strong, conditioned, prepared and determined to give it their all. Yes, they appear to be ready to compete aggressively playing hard with or without mascara,

    I also think it’s GREAT that Lanccome is preparing to introduce a cosmetic line just in time for the Winter Olympics. Not only will this highlight the role of women in serious sports on every page of every major magazine
    but will showcase women as well-rounded, grounded,high achieving citizens of the universe. What could be better than a world famous, major industry supporting and glorifying female competitors, blusher and all. As for Derek Jeter, he’s cute enough without foundation.

    By NFL / AFL on Jan 17, 2010

  4. Megan
    I really appreciate your perspective on this…
    as the mother of three young female athletes (10, 7 & 2… ok the 2 year old isn’t an athlete yet, but a soccer ball is her favorite toy)…
    I have seen early on the struggle for an athlete to find a place in her world…
    my 10 year old has a very hard time balancing that she is a strong athlete who can (and will) take on every boy in her class… BUT she also wants to be a girl
    I don’t know the answer… and I even feel a bit hypocritical… because at the same time that I HATE that I can’t freely let my daughters google “soccer, women” and feel confidant that they are going to find a list of role models not half naked pictures to satisfy a man’s desires…
    I am encouraging my daughter to wear her favorite athletic SKIRT to practice…
    whatever it takes to keep her in the game… and if looking like a girl while she fires off a game winning shot is what it takes to keep her in the game, then I am all for it…

    By Aimee on Feb 9, 2010

  5. Im sorry but I disagree I play softball (I am the catcher) and makeup is my life. It’s not that I’m trying to prove I’m not a lesbian or to show my girlie side it’s just that I love it. And about the ribbon I only wear it cause my team Jase a code that all the girls made up but I not going to explain that

    By Katie on Mar 18, 2010

  6. Make up in softball isn’t important, but you have to take a step back and look at those girls who like to be girly instead of sporty I dont’t wear make up to play softball in but plenty of my friends do and we just kid about it. You also have to think those women playing college and USA softball are grown women not girls. They are probably use to wearing make up or already have it on when they play.

    By Karla on Feb 22, 2011

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  2. Jun 7, 2011: fairgamenews.com » Blog Archive » Women’s College World Series 2011: All about the HR. Two college players talk college ball.
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