Why The U.S. Women’s Beach Volleyball Team Is Still Wearing Bikinis

Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it — particularly if that “it” is the the athletic prowess to win Olympic gold.

That’s the big reason why the U.S. women’s beach volleyball team says it's not giving up bikinis anytime soon, according to Slate. A piece republished from the 2012 Olympics explained that American women continuing to wear bikinis to compete was a personal choice reflective of the achievement of being an Olympic-level athlete.

“I’m not a sex symbol, I’m an athlete,” the piece quoted 2012 gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, 37, who’s back in Rio this year to defend her title.

In May, Walsh Jennings also told The Huffington Post that sticking with the bikini was about what made her most comfortable as a competitor, citing 100+ degree weather and refusing to take the negative attention to heart. “I think we’ve just gotta educate the public, take it with a grain of salt, and make sure that we’re working hard and not playing up the sex appeal, because it’s inherent anyway,” she said.

There’s been plenty of criticism of the skimpy uniforms of the women’s team as compared to those of the men, who compete in long shorts and sleeveless shirts. In 2012, the International Volleyball Federation changed the rules to allow female players to wear shorts and sleeved tops, in deference to cultures where more conservative dress is the norm. However, the more conservative attire isn’t required, and some — including the U.S. women’s team — have opted to stick with bikinis.

Other reasons the U.S. women don’t want to give up their swimwear? Tradition, certainly, and sand. Apparently, baggier clothes can trap sand in uncomfortable places, leaving players squirming and itchy midgame. Compared to that, a skimpy bikini certainly seems like the lesser of any evils.
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