This topic was inspired by an e-mail from reader Natalie:
I would love to hear your take on the impact of the popularity of female Olympic athletes on body image. I personally find watching women in the Olympics empowering – there are so many different “ideal” Olympic body types, from swimmer to gymnast to distance runner to weight lifter, and they’re all beautiful and powerful and awe-inspiring. None of them look at all like the bodies of most models or actresses, and yet they are much more incredible than the bodies we are regularly told are “ideal.” I tend to feel badly about my own body after seeing too many images of models or actresses, but I feel the opposite while watching Olympic athletes. They are a reminder that beauty, power, and talent come in many forms, and make me appreciate my own, much less athletic body.
I will admit that traveling and work have interfered with my ability to catch more than a passing minute or two of the games myself, and certainly don’t feel qualified to speak on behalf of others. So I’d like to hand it over to you:
Does watching women compete in the Olympics impact your own body image? Positively? Negatively? A bit of both depending on the circumstances? Do you feel inspired to push yourself athletically? Intimidated to see how skilled these women have become? Happy to see bodies that fall outside the socially sanctioned ideal being praised?