Dance 3, Looks 10

First came the nightly bikini volleyball games. Then, the banned, light up in the dark synchronized swimsuits from Spain. Now, the International Table Tennis Federation is blaming half-empty stands in Beijing on the female players who aren’t wearing outfits skimpy enough to show off their ‘curves.’ Welcome to the Hot Olympics, the games that score ratings based on how hot the female athletes look.

You’d think that if a woman could swim upside down underwater in perfect time wearing immovable red lipstick, that would be enough. But we’ve come to expect that athletes need to look gorgeous and sexy, as well as be strong and powerful, to get us to watch. And unless we are glued to our sets, desktops and mobile tech, sponsors won’t shell out their logos to slap on what’s left of the costumes, excuse me, uniforms.

But though it’s politically correct to call foul over the emerging sports runway, let’s be honest. Women (and men) like to look at women who look great…and it’s been going on a long time.  The Venus sisters’ courtside chic owes a debt to Chrissy Evert’s cute tennis outfits from the 70s. From Dorothy Hamill’s haircut to Flo-Jo’s manicure, we pick up on the nuances of style, even as we gasp at their phenomenal feats on the field, the ice, the mat. And now the hard bodies of Misty May and Kerri Walsh are hard for our overweight, under-worked out society to resist.

The fascination with fashion and beauty isn’t new. It just may be that this year it’s gravitating toward the more sexual and overt styles that we see in every mall and Main Street across the country. Subtle, unfortunately, isn’t enough. Nor is performance. We’re looking for the Perfect 10. Even if we say we’re not.

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