A quick women's studies rant

June, 28, 2011
06/28/11
7:53
PM ET

"3rd Platze Sind Was Fur Manner"

The sign in the train station was clear: "3rd Place Is For Men." The ad campaign for the Women's World Cup is not so subtle in Germany, but the support for its women is a little confused. While the sentiment is absolutely stunning in its accuracy (the women are dominant and champions several World Cups running), the support just isn't there in the same way it is for their male counterparts.

The team members are splashed on tabloid spreads, airbrushed and unrecognizable, fixed to look glamorous but in fact they look more like plastic dolls and male perceptions of beauty. They are posing and caked in makeup, and, who knows, their faces could be attached to entirely different bodies through Photoshop, all to sell soccer.

But that's not how women's soccer is going to take off. The image of female athletes needs to be more like the Brandi Chastain moment -- exuberant in victory, hot in the ecstasy of awesomeness, naked athleticism and triumph. I mean, anyone who makes a sports bra sexy is something of a miracle worker. Why can't women kick butt, play soccer and be held in high regard by fans without having to look like Barbie dolls?

Jaime Lowe played AYSO soccer for eleven years and never scored a goal. She still loves the sport. She has written for ESPN the Magazine and is the author of Digging for Dirt: The Life and Death of ODB (Faber & Faber) and a contributor to Fathers & Daughters & Sports (Random House).

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