Growing up in today’s society requires a certain amount of self-respect, backbone, determination and positive influence to survive the pressures and challenges of adolescence. With that being said, no matter what dream you may have you need someone to look up to, someone to make you believe that you too can become great at whatever challenge you choose to tackle. As a woman, the challenges are even more difficult as the female population must overcome certian social barriers in society as well.
For example, if you want to be a politician, you can look up to Frances Perkins, who served under Franklin Roosevelt, and was the first women ever elected to the US Cabinet, serving as the US secretary of Labor from 1933-1945.
Gertrude Stein is an excellent example for someone who aspires to be a writer. Her first book “Three Lives” was a critically acclaimed novel published in 1909. To this day she remains one of the greats in literary history.
Now those names will forever remain as role models to the women who aspire to achieve those goals. In athletics this trend seems to vary for whatever reason. There have been great female athletes who have taken the role as the face of women’s sports but it differs from decade to decade and after their career is over, they quickly lose popularity and fade from the spotlight.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee was just ten years old in 1972 when Title IX was passed, granting equal access in sports for both men and women. She took this to heart, and became someone that Sports Illustrated called “one of the greatest Olympic athletes in history.” Her Olympic career began in 1984 when she received the silver medal in the heptathlon event, just barely missing the gold medal. In 1988, she returned to the Olympic Games to accept the gold medal for not only heptathlon but also the long jump. In 1992 she kept her title in the heptathlon and received the bronze medal for long jump. In 1996, at her last Olympic showing, she gained her last Olympic medal, receiving the bronze medal in long jump.
Her reign as the face of women’s sports was soon taken over by Mia Hamm, taking the spotlight when Kersee’s career ended.
In 1991, when the US women’s national team won the World Cup for the first time, Hamm, at just nineteen years of age, became the youngest women to ever win a World Cup title. This was just the beginning of a long and successful career. In 2001 and 2002, Hamm took home of the FIFA World Player of the Year award, and was the first player to ever receive it. She stayed in the spotlight until she retired in 2004.
Both women will always be remembered but are no longer the role models for the athletes of the ‘silent generation’, also known as generation Z.
It is no surprise that women are overshadowed by men, especially in athletics. Female athletes are unheard of compared to men like Payton Manning, LeBron James, Roy Mcilroy, etc. The only women mentioned are models who suffer from anorexia, “hot actresses,” or people who make their fortune off of the fact that they have a low IQ score. Why is this? Women can’t get away from superficial standards.
For proof feel free to Google top female athletes, what will pop up first in the suggestion box is Top 100 Sexiest Female Athletes. Even in athletics, women can’t escape being objectified. In no aspect of the world should a woman be judged by her exterior beauty. A woman should just be like any man in the athletic industry and be judged on talent and attitude.