Female Olympians Speak Out Against Nike’s Revealing Uniforms

Nike has made controversial decisions over the years. It famously signed Colin Kaepernick, not for his athletic ability but for his activism against police brutality and racial injustice. On the other hand, Nike ended its partnership with Tiger Woods, a golf legend who greatly boosted the brand’s popularity. The company’s design choices, like the fluorescent yellow University of Oregon uniforms, have also sparked debate.

Here’s a thought.

Nike was awarded the contract to design the athletic uniforms of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field team this year.

Janett Nichol is Nike’s vice president for apparel innovation. She told CBS Sports they used “an algorithm” that was based on data, “athlete insights”, and submitted the information. The result? A revealing swimsuit. Nichol claims that the outfits are “performing at the highest levels” and that actual athletes have tried them on. Nike should tweak the artificial intelligence they used to create these outfits.

The algorithm has come up with a new look for women and men.

One person said about the uniform: “I hope that [U.S. Olympic officials] are paying for the bikini waxes.” Yes, well.

Nike unveiled the City of Light’s new units this weekend, and HOLY HOO HA they are good!


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A post shared by Lauren Fleshman (@fleshmanflyer)

Nike began as a shoe company. The shoes worn by the athletes have been given more attention than their uniforms. The shoes appear to cover the athletes’ feet better than their clothes.

Elliott Heath is Nike’s global product manager for running shoes. He told CBS that “our sprinters and track athletes need something stable and that they control but they want to put all that energy back onto the track.”

Heath explained that the Air Zoom is different from the other Nike Air products because it allows you to apply high pressures, and shape the bag around that to deliver the performance athletes require.

The Nike Swimsuit Edition does not have a dual-chamber pod, even though it would seem to belong on the men’s shirt.

The retired athlete Lauren Fleshman, and others, wondered why men don’t wear these outfits. She said: “Professional sportsmen should not have to spend their brain space on constant pube vigilance, or mental gymnastics to display every vulnerable part of their body,” in an Instagram post.

The kits for women should serve to improve performance both mentally and physically. Men would wear this outfit if it was beneficial for physical performance. This is not a track and field kit of the highest level. This is a costume that was created by patriarchal forces, which are no longer needed or welcome to bring attention to women’s sport.

It’s much easier to disassemble something than it is to build it. Ask any artist, designer or prosecutor. This costume would be difficult for any athlete, no matter how well-trained or perfectly proportioned.

Tara Davis Woodhall, a long-jumper, said, “Wait! My hoo ha will be out.”

She’s right. Nike could retrain its “algorithm,” to include the phrase “no hoo ha.”