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.
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.