Nike Faces Backlash Over Revealing Uniforms for U.S. Women's Track Team at Paris Olympics

Nike's new Olympic uniforms for U.S. women's track team spark controversy over prioritizing aesthetics over athlete comfort and performance.

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Nike Faces Backlash Over Revealing Uniforms for U.S. Women's Track Team at Paris Olympics

Nike Faces Backlash Over Revealing Uniforms for U.S. Women's Track Team at Paris Olympics

Nike's new uniforms for the U.S. women's track and field team at the 2024 Paris Olympics have sparked controversy due to their revealing high-cut bikini-style design. The leotard, which features a cut that rises high on the hips, has been widely criticized by current and former Olympic athletes who argue it prioritizes aesthetics over performance and comfort.

Former U.S. track and field athlete Lauren Fleshman called the design a "costume born of patriarchal forces" and said women's kits should focus on allowing athletes to perform at their best without worrying about their bodies being on display. Other athletes like long jumper Tara Davis-Woodhall and hurdler Queen Harrison Claye have also expressed concerns about the practicality and appropriateness of the uniforms.

In response to the backlash, Nike has defended the designs, stating they were developed in collaboration with athletes and based on extensive testing to ensure optimal performance and breathability. The company said female runners will have nearly 50 styles to choose from, including more traditional shorts and tops, and that tailoring options will be available at the games.

USA Track and Field also noted that athletes were consulted throughout the design process and will have a wide range of uniform options beyond just the controversial leotard. Olympic pole vault champion Katie Moon acknowledged the concerns but emphasized that female athletes should in the end

Why this matters: The controversy highlights ongoing debates around sexism and the objectification of women's bodies in sports. It raises questions about who gets to decide what female athletes wear and whether uniform designs are prioritizing performance or pandering to cultural pressures and expectations about how women should look.

Nike has faced similar criticism recently over the fit and transparency of its redesigned MLB uniforms. Given the world's largest sports apparel brand and the official sponsor of the U.S. Olympic team, Nike's uniform choices carry significant influence. The company said in a statement that "The uniforms for the U.S. Track and Field team are the most athlete-informed, data-driven, and visually unified we've ever produced." However, many argue there is still much progress to be made in ensuring elite female athletes feel empowered to compete without their clothing choices detracting from their athletic accomplishments.

Key Takeaways

  • Nike's new Olympic uniforms for U.S. women's track team spark controversy.
  • Critics argue the high-cut, bikini-style design prioritizes aesthetics over performance.
  • Nike defends the designs, stating they were developed with athlete input.
  • Debate highlights ongoing issues of sexism and objectification in women's sports.
  • Nike's uniform choices carry significant influence as the U.S. team's sponsor.