Stick It Taught Me Women Are Judged On Appearance, No Matter What

Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
Stick It, while not technically a sci-fi movie, definitely doesn't take place in the world as we know it. In its universe, older teens with criminal records are allowed to skip juvie in favor of gymnastics camps. And when they ditch that camp, they're free to go, with a wink from the judge and some kind of throwaway line about disappointing-parent solidarity. But the 2006 film did manage to capture one aspect of reality — how women, even world-class athletes, are so often judged on their appearance first and their athletic prowess second.
A solid half of Stick It is dedicated to gymnastics montages that aren't intended to wow the audience, but to clearly show just how grueling the training regimen is on the young gymnasts. Haley (Missy Peregrym), the star of the film and obvious "rebel" (her rebellion clearly telegraphed with a combo of trucker hats and Simple Plan songs), falls over and over, heavily — sometimes flat on her face — and then slowly sinks into a bathtub of ice. The other gymnasts swing from the parallel bars until their hands are rubbed raw while showing off the muscles in their arms, back, and abs that keep them perfectly balanced and aligned as they spiral through the air. Even the girls' wide-eyed wonder in the face of a pair of incredibly dopey boys just underscores the larger point — they gave up their social lives, childhoods, and adolescence to dedicate their themselves to training. They want to be the best.
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The dramatic climax of the film starts with an exposed bra strap. It's the kind of thing that can happen to any woman going through life, let alone soaring torpedo movements. It's the kind of thing that can get girls sent home from school, lest their male classmates go crazy with desire. After performing a technically perfect flippity-flop (probably not the official name, but I hold that it's fitting), one of Hayley's teammates is robbed of a perfect 10 by the errant strap. So, in a move that could only be proposed by someone who truly embodies mid-2000s mainstream-emo music, Haley suggests that they all throw their turn in the flippity-flop and expose their bra straps, forcing the judges to award the medal to the girl with the most talent, not the most double-sided fashion tape. Get it? They're "sticking" their landings and "sticking it" to the man. It's a very layered gymnastics pun.
Female athletes are still fighting for the respect and recognition they deserve. Women in the public eye and across professions, are being criticized for their appearance when that has literally nothing to do with how well they're doing their jobs. So, it's a little cathartic to watch a group of young women demand to be judged by their skills alone, even if it's in a movie.
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