Sinewy arms are NOT a good thing – and neither is sport
One of the most hurtful and sexist Twitter storms over the past couple of weeks has been the criticism of former Olympic athlete Fatima Whitbread’s body, exposed in all its nutty glory on I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!
I won’t repeat the nasty observations that, incidentally, were aimed far more squarely at the former javelin thrower than at former jockey Willie Carson, a nasty little man with soft, pendulous breasts.
Suffice to say, Whitbread is not being seen as a great advertisement for young women who might be thinking about taking up a sport. Her overdeveloped arms are deemed too masculine, the legs too sinewy, the breasts merely slabs in a sea of testosterone.
Sexist: Nasty comments have been made on Twitter about Fatima Whitbread”s body
Aesthetics aside, I can’t help but wonder just how many hours a day it must take to achieve a body like that. It has taken hard work, obviously, and athletes are always being commended for the hours they spend at their discipline.
But you really wonder whether they could have spent their time more productively: reading perhaps, or studying maths. Or helping people.
The sinewy arm is desired these days by young women not because they have their eye on a medal or because they merely want to be healthy. No, the sinewy limb has become an end in its own right.
Just watch Kelly Rowland’s arms when they are held aloft. Am I alone in thinking that she looks like Linford Christie in a really bad wig, with breasts that must be stuck-on because she is too aerobicised to have grown them herself
Sport is always being paraded as a Good Thing, but is it, really
The Government has just scrapped its plan to improve the nation’s fitness levels as a legacy of the 2012 Olympics because the number taking part in sport at a grass-roots level has slipped, and the target of getting two million more people active by 2013 is now hopelessly out of reach.
But so what You can’t tell me top athletes eat healthily or even look that attractive.
Above all, I don’t believe sport is good for young people because it merely alienates the not-so-capable, the ones who don’t fit in.
Sport in school is the worst thing youcan possibly inflict on children, particularly girls who are going through puberty and are necessarily self-conscious, often in pain and often vulnerable.
Rather than being promoted as life-enhancing, health-giving and a fun way of giving you a fantastic body, sport is turned by school, and the frankly pervy gym mistresses who police it with really loud whistles, into an assault course to be avoided at all costs.
Hockey at my high school in Essex was always performed in winter, in a sea of mud, with us wearing flimsy navy culottes, with bare legs and no gloves. Cross-country running was cold, vomit-inducing and involved being humiliated in public.
Swimming was outside, in an unheated pool. Gym was performed on very thin rubber mats.
Netball meant the confident, bigger girls pushed us smaller ones over. Rounders produced endless arguments over who was in or out.
Sport didn’t give confidence to the more nervous among us, it made us feel even more feeble so that, in the end, we opted out.
Hockey at my high school in Essex was always performed in winter, in a sea of mud, with us wearing flimsy navyculottes, with bare legs and no gloves.
In the pool, I became so overwhelmed by the other girls’ ability to perform butterfly stroke, when all I could do was remain in one spot in the shallow end, poised to drown, that I made my mum write letter after letter, claiming I had a very persistent verruca. I’ve never got wet since.
So who cares if there are no women on the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year shortlist Athletes used to be shining beacons of excellence.
I still remember the water glistening on the moustache of Mark Spitz. What a perfect, V-shaped torso he had, disappearing into those tiny nylon knickers.
But now sportsmen and women have spoiled it all. It is too high-tech and impossible and streamlined.
There are no longer any women of the calibre of Mary Peters: the modern-day Amazonians would merely kick sand in her face. No Marion Coakes and her pony Stroller, who always looked so small.
No, today you have to be huge, and focused and boring and sponsored to the hilt.
And I can’t help thinking it’s not normal to make the human body perform gymnastic feats.
The Government and Seb Coe might want us all to run around of a Sunday morning, freezing, but these extremes of excellence are not good for us, surely
My prevailing memory of Olga Korbut was of a woman in tears, not triumph. I loved Olga because she slipped and failed, while the perfect ten of 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci left me unmoved.
She was too far away, too impossible to emulate. Too robotic. And far too boring.