Monday, August 25, 2008

Olympics: "The Athletic Image"

It's been a long time coming! These Olympic-inspired shenanigans:

I. "The Athletic Image"
Sports Covered: Swimming, Gymnastics, Volleyball, Beach Volleyball, Track, Soccer, Softball

[all olympic photos are Getty Images unless otherwise mentioned]

So here is my confession: I have been being a total Olympics junkie. In the first couple few days of the Opening Ceremony, I was fixated on the TV like a madwoman. At first it was just at night, then it grew to day and night. If you know me, you know this is not normal. Just as the Olympics has a long and rich history, I have a long and rich history of being uninclined towards for the monkey bars when I was a child. I have always been the girl who you'd pick last on your team in gym because I am just not as athletic and as a kid unfortunately I wasn't the most confident so I didn't reallly have the assertiveness and boldness that people need to do well in sports. I think that's the biggest factor but it also didn't help that my heart has some irregularity.

The Olympics are just infectious though. It's so strange because normally I do not watch sports games at all. It's just hard to get into (like, whoa, what's going on here) or understand or know which team to root for. Dad took us to a few baseball games as a kid, but it was just difficult to get into! It was just 'hit hit, strike strike'. But the Olympics is just for a certain period of time though so you're pretty well-covered already, and it's on a world stage. Plus you feel some connection to the players because you're of the same nationality and they're representing your own country which of course, you would like to completely dominate. =p

It's strange cause I don't consider myself even that patriotic at all.

So I've watched some of EVERYTHING. I even had a list of sports I liked and disliked watching: The ones that move a little slow for me are Badminton, Tennis, Cycling, Table Tennis, Water Polo, Equestrian (though I love horses), Diving, Rowing, and even Softball. I was addicted to Swimming, Beach Volleyball, Volleyball, Gymnastics, Track, plus a little bit of Basketball (USA vs. China).

I am so sad that the Olympics ended yesterday! But why did I watch the Olympics in the first place when it's so uncharacteristic of me? Well, the Opening Ceremony itself was a req and to die for...I watched all the countries walk by... and idk, it's just the feeling and that sense of unification and I think some of the games just really draw you in and the athletes are just phenomonal as well like 41-year-old swimmer Dara Torres. Can't believe she got the silver in her individual race, beating out girls half her age, but missing the gold by 1/100th of a second. And the swimming medley relays? On the edge of my seat! Don't even talk to me about Phelps (dubbed as "magical")-- the race between him and Cavic where he won by 1/100th of a second, and the down-to-the-wire relay race to the finish with the trash-talking Alain Bernard and US anchor Jason Lezak. Unforgettable!

Anyone notice how Phelps looks 10x hotter with the cap on?

How about the Women's Gymnastics All-Around? A total nail-biter to me. Some of the scoring had been a little biased towards China in Women's Gymnastics overall (both Nastia and Shawn were gyped there in different places I'd say-- Nastia's floor excercise was completely better the 2nd time around and yet she got graded lower, how she got the same score on the uneven bars as someone whose program wasn't as good as hers...) but loved every minute of Gymnastics... and Russia's Marina Semenova? So cute and so bright-looking! Thought Russia should've gotten a medal somewhere. Also, for the record, Shawn Johnson is the most adorable 16-year-old in the world. And Bela Karolyi himself was fascinating to watch.

Usain Bolt's breaking of three world records? And that Baton race at the end with Asafa Powell? WOW. Then USA Volleyball was so edge-of-the-seat it wasn't even funny and Ogonna Nnamani was top-form. Plus, May and Walsh in Beach Volleyball---!!! I was wide-eyed in the beginning with them against Beligum, and how they ended up totally sailing over the Chinese in the gold medal finals. Just great.

Of course there's the ones that tug at you too and you feel the athlete's own disappointment like Doc Patton and Tyson Gay dropping the damn relay baton and and US women also dropping the baton on their run. And when dear dear Lolo Jones was ahead without a doubt, but then caught the edge of one of the last hurdles, and tripped, completely lost her lead, and frustrating collapse on the track.

Have I gotten those of you unmoved by the Olympics, excited yet? Or those of you as addicted pumped up again by sheer memories? Well, typically uninterested me was completely consumed! If you haven't seen any, youtube any of these specific events mentioned...they're just exhilarating!

The Olympics in general are just really inspirational, but watching all the female Olympians and how they all differed in body type-- from Shawn Johnson who's a tad stockier with thicker thighs, to Misty May-Treanor, to Jennie Finch, to Dawn Harper --but all having in common a great physique, made a really positive impression. For example, I've always been really critical of my calves, which are as wide as anything, but but watching girls like gold-medalist Shawn Johnson with a rigorous training schedule having wider but muscular calves makes me feel better and not as critical. We all have parts of our body we'd like to change, but sometimes it's just our build, and all we can do it is to put it in the best form we can like these athletes.

dawn harper is a powerhouse.

I've always envied the quickness and strength and well, hand-eye coordination of those more athletically-inclined. There's a certain level of toughness and coolness there in say, like the "athletic image" like in the sporty Nike or Adidas ads and well, respect there too. This tough "athletic image" isn't really taken into consideration as much when it comes to fashion...unless you're Yohji Yamamato or Stella McCartney for Adidas. I mean, sometimes there are the "sporty magazine shoots" but they doll it up or layer and prissy it up so much. The athletic woman to me is a raw thing. It's raw and commanding. And that's what you should feel when you try to attempt that feeling and that image. And to stress that--- it is a feeling... a feeling of empowerment of striving, determination, and pushing yourself and pushing your body to the best that it can be.
Mia Hamm VS Kate Moss

And of course the all-telling: Who would win in an arm wrestle? Maybe Kate would pull out her 5-inch razor-sharp Fendi heels but quick-thinking and stronger Mia would win every single time. What it boils down to is that Kate is weaker. And I'm not just picking on Kate (I mean as long as you're healthy right?), or people who are skinny, but too-skinny models really. I think in comparison- these Olympic athletes just command so much respect! They put their bodies in the best form they can for the sport they are in. But all across the board: rowing, basketball, and even gymnastics-- all these women are fit as anything. Hey, you need a lot of strength to work that balance beam or launch yourself through those uneven bars. Nastia Liukin -the all-around champion this time around- holds herself like a model, is lithe like a model, but is probably in 20x better shape than any model on the catwalk. [she's even mentioned she's interested in modeling. I think she can do better than that, but if she were to pursue modeling, she'd definitely give the industry a challenge with her athletic physique]

Where the problem comes in is that it's about being leaner and thinner in the world of fashion. What do girls want to be? They want to get thinner. Everyone wants to cut out the fat from their diet and get a little bit skinnier. Even I was like that and I had my own personal little revelation that I'm partly sharing here. You don't hear so much, "I want to be in shape and fit. I want to be stronger." Put the US Women's Soccer Team with the catwalkers. Who's more fit? In a game of survival, the catwalkers might not do so well.

So why is it that we all want to emulate the frames of catwalkers and those in high fashion spreads than that of lean and powerfully dynamic Olympians? Their bodies are so much better and fitter and probably a lot healthier. As Kors said on PR: These women are like Wonder Woman! And if we take this to the extremes: Would you rather want to be a superheroine or a stick?


When it's put that way, it's no question. The infectious Olympic spirit and determination nudged unathletic me to tackle the gym more than I would, have an immense appreciation and better understanding for sports, and spontaneously go hiking out of the blue. Now having that sort of athletic frame really is more of a goal than just "being skinny"... Plus, I mean, to be "superficial" about it, your clothes will look so much better, when you have a better frame to put them on. I Just think it's better to feel strong than to feel...thin. Some women have that idea, but some women, and young girls, don't I think. Even a few of my friends don't (don't whack me).

I think that those long thin models on the catwalk can most CERTAINLY be stronger an carry the same tall lithe frame, but there's also the issue that the industry wants lithe as in thin and bony and not necessarily as in "lean and strong". Don't give me the "They were born this way!" stuff-- it's a total copout; they could easily all go to the gym and pick up some muscle mass. Hello! There are tons of long and lithe and in-shape beauties like Maria Sharapova. She is incredibly fit, and as far FAR from beefy as you can get. Even Gisele IMO seems really fit and has that strong and healthy look.

Not to mention they're much more inspirational IMO and a really positive representative of their respective countries.

Onto the Sets!

Disclaimer: These were all rather difficult to do...since I don't really own any shiny Lycra or Spandex or Leotards or tight short shorts so you can see why it took me so long to do this. In the feel of the outfits, I tried to keep them so that they feel somewhat strong and athletic and somewhat have an aura of confidence and pride.


I'm wearing: j.crew shorts, le tigre tank, 2 belts,
AA blue tights over UO black tights, + random ribbon

I'm wearing: A/X red top, straps from H&M skirt
this one was actually kind of difficult. I ended up taking a thick red ribbon and wrapping it around my shorts so that it looked longer and more like the outfit.

(they have kneepads over their socks so I whipped out my hansel basel socks)
also a lot of my shirts aren't that decorative which is why I fiddled around with ribbons and belts and placement for all of these etc.

Look- I'm not that athletic but I did try with the poses though!
I'm wearing: Stella McCartney for Adidas sneakers, Hansel Basel Socks,
sweatshorts, elastic H&M belt, skirt suspender straps, le garcon tee.





Anonymous arline said...

As usual, great post.

I did not get to see but about 20 minutes of the olympics. I don't have a TV.

What I did see, was amazing, and beautiful.

A lot of people have been coming to my class and have said, "they are doing yoga" "they were doing things we do in class"

Oh, how I wish I had seen... but alas.

I hear what you say about being thin as opposed to being fit.

I would much rather be fit, strong and muscular. I love to move in my body, and enjoy being able to do fun and active things.

That was not always the case though.

I was anorexic and bulimic when I was younger, and that is a horrible place to be. Pure torture.

It is sad to me that there is still the mass pressure to be "thin" , and that that is the way to beauty.

I could go on and on, but I won't. I really appreciate that you bring awareness to things that go deeper than the surface. The surface is a fine place to be, as long as you go deeper too.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Gaby said...

omg!!!! this was amazing! My favorite was the gymnast outfit though. I loooove that red top!!
Can't wait for part 2!

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this post! I read the entire thing. I am not big into the Olympics. I get excited when it comes around and tune into the opening ceremony, but I stop watching after that. I DID watch all the Michael Phepls wins though. Hehe.

I totally agree with your point about wanting to be more strong and lean rather than just thin and lean. It's much more realistic, healthier, and respectable.

Your outfits were amazing! I wouldn't have even known where to start and I think you did an amazing job in putting together the outfits when you didn't own a lycra bodysuit and such (hehe).

3:47 PM  
Blogger lucy said...

this post was for not a better word gorgeous.

reading your posts, i get to know you, and have to say, you are very cool. i was reading and agreeing and thinking oh i didn't think of this!!!

Darling! thank you so much for sharing your wonderful spirit! you never seem trying to fit into any sort of category & to me this is the sign of a fashinista.

btw, i laughed at your wonderwomen vs. the stick figure!

xxxxxxxxxxxx0000000000000 for giving yet another wonderful post!

9:24 PM  
Blogger The Seeker said...

What a great and toughtful post.
The concept behind it it's very interesting.
I like the athletic versus the lanky.

And you look great in your gymnast outfit, well in all of them.


4:56 AM  
Anonymous susie_bubble said...

Amazingly well thought out post even though I am completely disinterested in the Olympics in general....

7:50 AM  
Blogger Hannah Cheeto said...

Really amazing post! I really enjoyed watching the Olympics too and as someone with a more athletic body I appreciated the positive comparisons way too skinny models. I never was really good or interested in most sports (though I found my love in track/cross country) but I still found the Olympics fascinating, and really got into rooting for the U.S. Also I've been reading the rest of your blog, it's really good! I can't wait for the next installment, which should be really interesting.

9:25 AM  
Blogger melmo said...

Oh what a great and really really big post! it's very interesting!

<3 melmo

11:36 AM  
Blogger Rora said...

wow what a great post! I loved watching the olympics this year, though i was kinda busy and didn't get to see as much as i would have wanted to.
I totally agree with you about thin vs. fit and healthy. I'm not that athletic but i do take evening martial arts classes and always feel seriously gorgeous after i've been working out, even if i'm actually all sweaty and disgusting :p
i think we can admire women like kate moss and mischa barton for their style, but we don't have to try and force our bodies to look like theirs.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Savvy Mode SG said...

i only watched gymnastic. anyway, i agree i want to be thin but healthy and lean instead of model thin.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

:D you really fell in love in here.

juliet xxx

2:37 AM  
Blogger Juliet said...

Belle is me, i have too many emails.

juliet xxx

12:28 PM  
Blogger ourgreatgreenglobe said...

I loved watching the volleyball and swimming and basketball and so much more. The olympics are such a fun, exciting time for all the countries.

5:35 PM  
Blogger claire said...

Very fun, man I loved the olympics.

young-shields x

8:54 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

Fantastic post, seriously I bow down to you. I myself am far from athletically inclined but I loved watching the olympics. There were definetly fascinating and sad moments, but such a great showing on all the athletes parts.

I loved the pictures you did, that's a fantastic idea, and well executed!

12:46 PM  
Blogger lara said...

what a great post! I really really love it!

1:07 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Of course atlethes have fitter and probably healthier (although top athletes often force their bodies - especially when they're still very young, so no need to glorify them to the fullets) bodies than skinny models. I have a huge admiration for athletes and think they look great. They are more trained than any other people, which is necessary to do what they do. But I wouldn't underestimate the physical shape of top models either. Their job is far from easy and requieres a lot of work and stamina. If they would be all weak and fragile, they would not be able to keep up with their job. I don't disagree there are models who are clearly underfed, but a lot of them are a) thin by nature b) watching their weight, but without losing a certain balance. If they don't, you wouldn't see that manu girls walking over the catwalk and keeping up the way they do.

8:00 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

But now, on a lighter note: I have enjoyed the Olympics very much. I'm following quite a lot of sports all year long, but what's great about the Olympics is that they also put less obvious sports under the spotlight. Another thing I love about is, is how it brings up the best in the athletes. I am so fascinated by the way they strife for their medal and their country. I play badminton myself - not in a professional way, but being quite a competitive person, I always try to become better and win as many matches as possible. I recognise that spirit in the Olympic athletes, but of course a thousand times stronger, and I can get really touched by that feeling.

8:07 AM  
Blogger Kira Fashion said...

very cool!

a kiss!!!

1:26 PM  
Blogger Blonde hair, Blue jeans said...

Olympic athletes really command so much respect...i mean, it has to be very hard to dedicate your whole life to a sport...

7:25 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Time for the second part! ;)

10:21 AM  
Blogger Diana Coronado said...

A large and good post !!

1:43 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

What a great idea for a post.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Annie said...

haha i jus read ur olympic inspiredness

6:35 PM  
Blogger issa said...

oh this post is absolutely fantastic!!! love it!!

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool outfits!(:

9:22 AM  
Blogger Hannah @ LONDON--ROSE ♥ said...

hey, i love your fashion blog & was wondering if you wanted to exchange links?
mine is
let me know ♥

4:24 AM  

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