Cries of Sexism Greet a Nike Olympic Reveal

Ever since the Norwegian women’s beach handball team turned the fact that they were required to wear teeny-tiny bikini bottoms for competition into a cause célèbre, a quiet revolution has been brewing throughout women’s sports. It’s one that questions received conventions about what female athletes do — or don’t — have to wear to perform at their very best.

It has touched women’s soccer (why white shorts?), gymnastics (why not a unitard rather than a leotard?), field hockey (why a low-cut tank top?) and many more, including running.

So it probably should not have come as a shock to Nike that when it offered a sneak peek of the Team U.S.A. track and field unies during a Nike Air event in Paris celebrating its Air technology on Thursday (which also included looks for other Olympic athletes, like Kenya’s track and field team, France’s basketball team and Korea’s break dancing delegation), they were met with some less-than-enthusiastic reactions.

See, the two uniforms Nike chose to single out on the mannequins included a men’s compression tank top and mid-thigh-length compression shorts and a woman’s bodysuit, cut notably high on the hip. It looked sort of like a sporty version of a 1980s workout leotard. As it was displayed, the bodysuit seemed as if it would demand some complicated intimate grooming.

Citius Mag, which focuses on running news, posted a photo of the uniforms on Instagram, and many of its followers were not amused.

“What man designed the woman’s cut?” wrote one.

“I hope U.S.A.T.F. is paying for the bikini waxes,” wrote another. So went most of the more than 1,900 comments.

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