This week’s props goes to Brittney Griner, the 19-year old Baylor University basketball superstar. Griner is talented both on and off the court. She recently helped lead her team to the NCAA Division 1 Women’s Final Four in San Antonio. Off the court, she is a role model for young women in helping to redefine beauty. Griner, whose sexual orientation and gender has been questioned, has risen above the scrutiny and is part of the vanguard of women setting the new standard of beauty.
Throughout our history, women have been fighting for equal rights, proving that they can do anything amale can do. Athletics is no exception. Muscular female athletes often face accusations of being unfeminine — even manly. Griner’s gender, sexuality and sexual preference have been called into question — an unfortunately all-too-familiar experience for many female athletes. For example, South African runner Caster Semenya’s gender was questioned after she ran the fastest 800 meters in history and won the Berlin World Championships.
Today, superstars like Mia Hamm, Maria Sharapova, Anna Kournikova and Gabrielle Reece have demonstrated that women of all shapes and sizes can be strong, beautiful and sexy. At 6-foot-8, with a slender torso, long, lean legs and tomboy features, Griner embodies characteristics that most fashion stylists and model casting agents find appealing in a woman. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While Griner’s straightforward beauty is not appealing to some, others believe that her untraditional beauty makes her interesting in a cultural manner. Griner and today’s superstars are true role models who have not only redefined the parameters of feminine beauty but have an abundance of trophies and medals to demonstrate their athleticism. Female athletes feel that competitive sports have shaped their confidence and their perception of beauty, which in turn, has changed the way the public sees female athletes. Griner, Hamm, Sharapova, Kornikova and Reece’s reputations and visibilities have shifted the beauty ideals and cultural attitudes towards athletic women.