15 Dec 2018

Fake wardrobe malfunctions as a way to denigrate women in sports

Tabloids love to unleash their fury on famous women for their "wardrobe malfunctions". Even when they don't happen.

Tijana Cvjeticanin
Tijana Cvjeticanin Istinomjer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Fake wardrobe malfunctions as a way to denigrate women in sports   - NewsMavens
Camila Giorgi, Wikimedia Commons


Cheap tabloid headlines about female celebrities' "wardrobe mishaps" are presumably a good source of revenue -- they're sure to get clicks, likes and shares stemming from the voyeuristic instincts of their readers. They are bad enough when they are based on real events. But some go as far as inventing them, even when they never happened. This was the case with "reporting" on Camila Giorgi, a tennis player from Italy, which was published in several online portals in Serbia and Bosnia:

"TENNIS PLAYER CAUSED CHAOS WHEN SHE APPEARED WITH NO PANTIES ON: She even lifted up her skirt to show that she's not wearing any!"

The article was also illustrated with two photographs of Giorgi on the tennis court, her body blurred from the waist down to support the headline's claim that she was not wearing underwear.


Giorgi was playing a match in Tokyo in a standard sports outfit, shorts included. The author of this article knew it, too. The text eventually "reveals" the obvious, but the way the correct information was presented was anything but correct. It was paired with sexist comments about Giorgi's body, while simultaneously reprimanding HER for "taking her outfit choice too far this time". Peak level of hypocrisy was reached here:

"In the meantime, careful onlookers concluded that Camila is wearing panties after all, but the fact remains that she chose an inappropriate outfit. Still, social networks are full of sighs of admiration for her curves. Nobody even mentions the match score."  

The piece was first published in an online women's magazine in Serbia, Blic Žena. While the magazine is supposed to be "for women", this is not its first outright sexist article -- it has published fake news about women before. From there on, it was happily copied and distributed by other portals and tabloids, such as “Novi” in Bosnia.


Treating clothing choices as an object of permanent "surveillance", while seizing any opportunity for public shaming, is something that the media do almost exclusively to women. Shaming women for what they do or don't wear is never appropriate and contributes to sexual objectification of women. In this case, it has also taken the form of clickbait and fake news.


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

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NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
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