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Sexist Dress Codes Need To Go!

November 12, 2021

Ever wonder why athletes wear certain outfits when they’re competing in a specific sport? Most of the time, there’s a dress code that athletes must adhere to during the competition. For example, one of the rules for competing in Wimbledon is that all competitors must dress almost entirely in white. In basketball, all players must wear a jersey while playing on the court.

But dress codes have come under scrutiny recently because requirements for female versus male athletes vary significantly. In July, Norway’s female beach handball team was fined 1,500 euros for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms during competition. Needless to say, that fine was criticized by people around the world. Why, after all, do women have to wear bikini bottoms when competing in beach handball when their male counterparts can wear shorts? Why the double standard? The International Handball Federation (IHF) defended their rule as one that’s in-line with or similar to the dress code for female beach volleyball players. Interesting defense, right?

It took a few months and pressure from other national teams, players, and coaches, but the IHF finally changed the dress code for female beach handball players. Now, “Female athletes must wear short, tight pants with a close fit.” This new rule will go into effect on January 1st. It’s a start, but the fight to end sexist dress codes has only just begun.

Interesting Fact: Gymnastics is another sport where there’s a huge dress code discrepancy between female and male athletes. While male gymnasts wear tank tops and shorts or pants, female gymnasts compete in bikini leotards. Sound unfair? That’s why during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, Germany’s women’s gymnastics team wore full-body leotards during competition to protest the outfits that female gymnasts are required to wear.