If they were giving out prizes for inappropriate commentary during the Olympics, this Fox segment would win gold. Last week, a seriously offensive and completely unnecessary debate on Sports Court regarding female Olympians took place and left us sputtering. What, you ask, was the topic at hand? You might think, surely, it was related to their strength, athleticism, drive, and outstanding talent — but you'd be wrong. Instead, two men got together with host Tamara Holder to make their six-minute case for why women at the Rio games should be wearing makeup.
Yes, you read that right: Fox called on two men — a radio host and a former NYPD detective (heck, why not get an electrician in there?!) — to have a conversation about why female athletes should "cover their zits" and "blush their cheeks" so as not to offend all the people around the world who are watching, judging, and considering offering them cosmetic contracts. Really. We couldn't make this shit up.
Holder gets things going by saying, “We all know the old adage 'sex sells,' well, now, female Olympians are sexing it up more than ever by wearing makeup during their competitions. Some say this is about empowerment, well, really? Do women who are elite athletes need to wear makeup to feel stronger, or is it simply a fashion statement?” Look, we could go with her here, and if this question were posed at Refinery29, it would spark an interesting chat about the societal pressures on women to wear makeup and look "pretty" in public. But Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.
Next, we're introduced to “two men without shortage of opinion,” Bo Dietl (the detective, here to solve the case) and Mark Simone (the radio host). Simone kicks things off thusly, “The whole point of the Olympics...is product endorsements. Cosmetic companies are opening up a ton of revenue for product endorsements.”
Wait, so, the entire reason athletes train their whole lives and push their bodies to unimaginable limits to compete at the Olympics is for...a lipstick deal? That's news to us — and likely to the athletes. But let's move on...
Now it's Dietl's turn to speak, and he uses this platform to tackle adult acne. “I think when you see an athlete, why should I have to look at some chick's zits? Why not a little blush on her lips and cover those zits!” If there were a record playing, it would screech to a halt right about now. He continues, “I like to see a person who wins that gold medal go up there and look beautiful.” Wait for your heart rate to slow, then remember this: Having acne has no effect on your beauty or your worth. Zero. None. Believe that.
Unfortunately, no female Olympians could be there to speak on behalf of their faces (probably too busy setting world records, or something), but some of their quotes were provided. Holder read a statement from Shannon Rowbury, U.S.A. middle-distance runner, who told USA Today, “You can be a strong, athletic, courageous woman and you can wear lipstick... It doesn’t have to be one or the other.” She went on to say that lipstick doesn’t “detract from [her] performance," and it puts her in a happy place before she starts her race. Aly Raisman, U.S.A. gymnast and three-time Olympic gold medalist, is also quoted; she says wearing makeup gives her confidence and a "badass feeling." The point being, the decision is personal, and never about how it makes the viewers at home feel.
You can be a strong, athletic, courageous woman and you can wear lipstick.
Shannon Rowbury, Olympian
Holder seems to be timidly, barely, rolling her eyes at the men throughout the clip, and at times, she almost gets into important-conversation territory. For example, she raises the point that Anna Kournikova got more sponsorships than Serena Williams (right after she says this, Dietl interjects to say, "And she had makeup on — Anna Kournikova"), because "there's no hiding [it], she's blond and white and tall and thin, and she has more sponsorships." Interesting, Holder, let's talk race and white privilege! Alas, she ends by asking, "So do you think that this is a competition among the women to be more sexy and more beautiful?" Instead of exploring the frustrating reasons Black women get fewer contracts than white women, Holder pits women against each other, and the men agree.
Bottom line: This conversation is a giant step backward when it comes to female empowerment. No one gets to tell women what to do with their appearances — not two men, not 100, not the entire world watching at home. You get to define what makes you feel beautiful and confident, whether that's putting on red lipstick or accepting your gold medal sans concealer. The Sports Court conversation should have lasted 30 seconds, and the only thing those three needed to say was: "Go Team U.S.A.!"
Watch the video in its entirety above (if you can stand it), and share your thoughts in the comments.