Nike's Track Outfits for Female Olympians Are ... Interesting

'This is a costume born of patriarchal forces'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2024 8:24 AM CDT
Updated Apr 20, 2024 4:15 PM CDT
Nike's Track Outfits for the Olympics Aren't Going Over Well
In this file photo from Sept. 4, 2018, a Nike company logo is displayed outside a Nike store in Charlotte, North Carolina.   (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, file)

The Nike outfits set to be worn by Team USA track and field athletes during this summer's Paris Olympics were unveiled last week, but one version isn't going over too well. The New York Times reports that the big reveal on Thursday by the sportswear giant showed off kits for both men and women, with the men's version featuring a compression tank top and "mid-thigh-length" shorts, while the version for the ladies "looked sort of like a sporty version of a 1980s workout leotard," with a starkly high-cut panty line (Citius Mag has pictures on mannequin models here). It was so high of a panty line, in fact, that it seems "as if it would demand some complicated intimate grooming," the Times notes.

The backlash and complaints of sexism followed almost immediately. "Absolutely not made for performance," US steeplechaser Colleen Quigley told Reuters. Long jumper Tara Davis-Woodhall responded with "equal parts humor and horror," per the Guardian, noting, "Wait, my hoo haa is gonna be out?" Retired elite runner Lauren Fleshman wasn't amused at all, writing on Instagram, "I'm sorry, but show me one WNBA or NWSL team who would enthusiastically support this kit. ... This is not an elite athletic kit for track and field. This is a costume born of patriarchal forces that are no longer welcome or needed to get eyes on women's sports."

Meanwhile, British track and field star Abigail Irozuru asked, per the AP: "Was ANY female athlete consulted in this team kit?!?" USA Track & Field tells the news agency that yes, Nike did seek input from multiple athletes during the design process, including world champion sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson. John Hoke, Nike's chief innovation officer, says that the bodysuit is just one of many options available to this summer's track and field Olympians, with "nearly 50 unique pieces across men's and women's and a dozen competition styles fine-tuned for specific events," per the Times.

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Women can also opt for compression shorts, or a bodysuit with shorts instead of bikini bottoms, for example, per the Times. Although that fact may mitigate some of the complaints, Quigley has another demand: She thinks Nike should offer custom tailoring to all Olympic athletes. "Our bodies are all different and it seems silly to expect us to compete at the highest level of our sport without a properly fit uniform," she tells Reuters. (More Nike stories.)

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