Shrinking and Pinking "Chick" Fights

I learned a new term this month: "Chicked."  Apparently that's what you say in skiing when a woman beats a man on the slopes. Here's an excerpt from an article describing what it is to be chicked:

“That’s a verb used in ski racing – chicked – to chick someone,” explained Canadian alpine racer Larisa Yurkiw.

Yurkiw was the talk of the Swiss glacier when she beat a guy in training over the summer. The 24-year-old from Collingwood, Ont., who has high hopes for Sochi in 2014, won’t identify the humiliated racer, only to say he is not a Canadian, but a “fellow Commonwealther.”

“It was the biggest news of the day,” she recalled.

“It was just training and it didn’t matter,” Yurkiw said. “It didn’t count for anything, but it’s that prestige verb to be able to use.”

Of course, the reason this was in the news is because of Lindsey Vonn's (failed) bid to race against men in a World Cup downhill.

While she failed this time it's only a matter of time before she, or someone else, does get the clear to compete against men in a sanctioned race. Sure, some will be afraid of getting chicked-- but the same was true in golf and tennis and auto racing and many other sports.  Sure, she might have to make some changes to her all-female races, like if racing the course advantages her over competitors.  But given the potential for publicity and the march of women's athletics I suspect within the next quad or two we'll see this.

Even MMA is getting in on the action.  MMA-- currently considered one of the toughest and most hegemonically masculine sports-- welcomed its first female pro fighter into the UFC earlier this month.  I'm sure they are happy that fighter Ronda Rousey is attractive and photo/telegenic.  Notice that the link is to a story on TMZ about Rousey, so clearly she is already crossing over into mainstream media.  The International Ski Federation should take note that some people might like to see a man get "chicked."

One place where chicking doesn't happen is at Spelman College, an all-female historically black college. Like at all single sex institutions, women are the athletic stars on campus.  Well, at least they were.  Starting next academic year Spelman is eliminating its athletic program.  They won't drop fitness-- they actually plan to promote it for everyone on campus, targeting issues that impact black women's health-- but they will leave the NCAA.  This is the first school to voluntarily leave the NCAA in about a decade.  About 40 women who planned to attend Spelman for athletics will no longer be able to compete, but they will still be students.

It's an interesting take on how best to use funds to promote health and athletics for more women.  I wonder if other schools will follow suit? Chicks everyone can be sporty and smart.  And sometimes they do best the boys.

More Shrinking and Pinking: The Barbie Edition

This was syndicated on BlogHer on April 11, 2011 as "Athletic Barbies and Real Women in Sports." Check it out HERE and see some more great images!

A few weeks ago I wrote about shrinking and pinking. What's that? It's how a many athletic clothing and gear manufacturers make products for women-- they simply shrink down the men's versions and dye them pink.  I believe that being athletically strong and wearing pink (or purple or red or silver... or blue or orange or green for that matter) don't have to be mutually exclusive.  In other words, the pinking of women's sports can be okay sometimes, but pinking and shrinking (whether that shrinking is in terms of attention, media coverage, or the size of those pink clothes) isn't a good combination.

As I was reading the latest ESPN The Magazine I came across the following spread, which got me thinking about shrinking and pinking again.

Only twelve of these Barbies (1975-2010) are wearing pink (red, white, and blue is the color scheme of choice).  The most recent athletic Barbie, Race Car Driver Barbie, does wear fuchsia, though note that she is pretty much covered head to toe (admittedly, her skintight/shrunken jumpsuit is probably not one Danica Patrick would wear on race day!).

What really struck me was the attire of the Coach Barbies. The ten athlete Barbies are wearing outfits that, though not very fashionable, aren't so far off from what a real-life participant might wear (skintight racecar driver suit aside).  However, the two Coach outfits are pretty absurd. Gymnastics Coach Barbie is wearing teeny-tiny shorts (with what looks to be a purse and ballet flats) and Soccer Coach Barbie is wearing a mini-mini skirt. I wonder why Mattel decided to portray Women's World Cup Soccer Player Barbie in fairly accurate soccer clothes, but didn't follow through with the coach nine years later? The 2008 mini-Barbie soccer player is also wearing a skirt, and playing with a pink/white ball, not the standard black/white one depicted in 1999.

I actually have never owned a Barbie doll; as I child I preferred American Girl dolls and real-life heroes.  This week I discovered two Crimson athletes who certainly qualify as role models.  Harvard freshmen Mariah Pewarski and Morgan Powell play two, yes TWO, varsity sports-- field hockey and lacrosse.  Neither girl is ever out of season as they balance school work, social lives, and practices and games.  Who needs pink Barbies when you have Crimson role models like that?

We certainly saw a lot of other impressive female scholar-athletes this week, as the NCAA basketball tournament concluded.  No pinking or shrinking here as the maroon of Texas A&M defeated the green of Notre Dame-- and the viewership for both the title game and the entire tournament grew.

In other non-shrinking news this week, women's ski jumping gains Olympic status at last. Rachel Maddow did a great bit on this, and lady parts: click here to check it out. I for one hope to see heroic Lindsey Van (no, not Lindsey Vonn) win gold in 2014. Though, I'm not sure she should opt for Downhill Skier Barbie's 1975 duds, are you?