These Olympic Gymnasts Wore Unitards to Push Back on ‘Sexualization’

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The German women’s gymnastics team delivered a strong message about the way women's bodies are viewed in the Olympic Games, and we're here for it.

In the last week, the team debuted their full-body unitards at the Summer Games in Tokyo in what the German Gymnastics Federation is calling a statement against “sexualization. Ordinarily, gymnasts wear bikini-cut unitards, but the German team is pushing back on what they believe those garments represent.

Their full-body looks cover the athletes' legs to the ankle but appear to provide the same level of movement. A statement from the German Gymnastics Federation earlier this year emphasized that the outfits aim to allow athletes to "present themselves aesthetically – without feeling uncomfortable" and move away from “sexualization in gymnastics."

German gymnast Elisabeth Seitz told CNN that “it’s about what feels comfortable."
"We wanted to show that every woman, everybody, should decide what to wear," she explained, before adding that other athletes have been supportive of the decision to wear full-coverage looks and she hopes they'll feel compelled to wear whatever they so choose in future competitions.

Seitz also emphasized on Thursday that she and her teammates "decided this is the most comfortable leotard for today."

"That doesn’t mean we don’t want to wear the normal leotard anymore. It is a decision day by day, based on how we feel and what we want. On competition day, we will decide what to wear," she shared.

The decision to change up their outfits from traditional Olympic wear comes amid the Norwegian women's handball team getting fined for not wearing bikini bottoms during their qualification game last week. The team wore shorts instead of the high-cut bottoms sanctioned by the European Handball Federation (EHF) and received a fine of 1,500 Euros, EHF President Michael Wiederer has since said he would work on changing the rules regarding the women’s uniforms.

This post is part of a series covering the talented female athletes competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Stay up to date on their latest achievements and watch them go for gold here

Tags: Groundbreaking Women, Women's History, Pop Culture

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Written By

Rose Low

Rose Low is a writer based in New York, with a background in social media strategy and reporting. She has a Masters from NYU and a love for romantic comedies. See Full Bio

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