20 Feb 2018

Media fuss over Czech super-athlete talking about her makeup

After winning an unexpected gold medal, Czech snowboarder Ester Ledecká created a minor uproar by keeping her ski goggles on and lamenting the fact that she was not wearing makeup.

Ria Gehrerová
Ria Gehrerová Denník N, Slovakia
Source: Dennik
Media fuss over Czech super-athlete talking about her makeup - NewsMavens
Ester Ledecká. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

As of 2018, most media outlets have understood that women do not want to be reduced to their gender when their accomplishments are discussed. But media were unprepared for Ledecká, who -- after winning an unexpected gold medal -- candidly implied that she wished she had been wearing makeup. 

What are venerable journalists to do when a female super-athlete refers to her own femininity after an astonishing physical exploit?

The New York Times, Reuters and The Independent have all clumsily alluded to her statement. In Czech media, many reported surprise that such an outstanding athlete would concern herself with her “prettiness”, deploring the “message” sent to young women. Some journalists have hypothesized that she wanted to hide her face because she felt camera-shy, while some others argued that she was secretly having a laugh at athletes who compete with makeup. 

Whatever Ledecká truly had in mind, the disproportionate coverage given to her statement is yet another example of awkward reporting around a female athlete, as if sport journalists were still somewhat baffled by women in sports.

gender, women's issues

Details from the story:

  • Ester Ledecká from Czech Republic won a gold medal at the Olympics in super-G slalom, despite the fact that she is a professional snowboarder.
  • At the press conference followng her victory, a journalist asked her why she was wearing her goggles and the 22-year-old replied: "I was not as prepared as the other girls to be in the ceremony, and I haven't put on any make-up".
  • She was the first sportsperson who competed on both the snowboard and skis in the Olympics.
  • Her father is well-known Czech singer Janek Ledecký, but she is slowly becoming more famous than him.
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