A simple tip for anyone seeking a quick and efficient method for negating a successful woman’s mind-blowing accomplishments: A swift and sure catty comment about her weight should do the trick.
Meet 26-year-old Australian swimmer and eight-time medallist Leisel Jones. Besides holding down several world records, as a fourth-time Olympic qualifier, she’s competed more times than any other Australian swimmer. Oh, and she first qualified and scored two silver medals at age fourteen.
At age fourteen, I held the local record for most Titanic viewings in a two-month period (seven). That’s just some perspective for you.
So yes, I’m guessing we can all agree Jones is incredible. Even those of us with limited athletic talent or know-how (just me?) can appreciate the fact that this woman has serious skills.
Now, as a general universal law, haters will always crawl out of the woodwork when someone gains success. Along with random Facebook friend requests and suspiciously unfamiliar childhood “buddies” hoping to reunite, anyone who’s achieved anything should just expect a certain level of criticism, whether it’s warranted or not.
Which is why it would have been understandable for former coaches or athletes to critique Jones’ form, comment on her speed, or compare her to other athletes. But those are all pretty civil, half-hearted attempts at tearing a person down.
Melbourne’s Herald Sun, however, opted for something simpler and more in line with the recent trends of female degradation: The paper scrutinized her weight.
“It was her appearance that had tongues wagging as much as her bid for history,” a July 24 article stated. And the writer pointed out that Jones “appears heavier than at previous meets.”
Journalism at its finest.
But wait, there’s more. The paper also ran before-and-after shots of Jones and implored readers to weigh-in (my pun, not theirs) on whether or not the swimmer is indeed overweight.
Thankfully, the paper received an overwhelming amount of responses in defense of Jones, and subsequently took down the online poll. But public scrutiny and unwarranted humiliation tend to leave their marks, so it’s hard to retract something hurtful once the damage has been done.
Jones isn’t the first famous female to be criticized for her appearance (which is just fine, should anyone care), and she certainly won’t be the last. But what makes women’s bodies such irresistible targets for condemnation, even when those bodies are the tools that ensured their success?
Whether Jones is underweight, overweight, tall, short, blonde, or brunette, the fact is that she’s undeniably talented, and undoubtedly hard working. No one reaches her level of success without determination, drive, passion, and proficiency. And anyone who thinks it’s appropriate to tear her down because the very body that garnered all that success doesn’t fit some rigid beauty standard is taking a cheap shot that’s at this point, just an unimaginative attempt at spite.
Clearly I’ll be rooting for Jones. If I can pause my Titanic DVD long enough to tune in.