Sports photography is pervasive and our society cannot stop looking at it. It’s enticing, the athletes are hot and we’ve come to see them as really great to look at. Are we actually appreciating these people for what they do or just what they look like?
Sport photography has recently been paralleled with pornography, and rightfully so. The athletes are put in a “sphere of sexuality” where their bodies are put on display faster than any of their athletic achievements. The companies focus on the bodies of these athletes and what their bodies are able to accomplish, as does the pornography industry. Companies will pass on the chance to feature an incredible athlete to put in a lesser known, less accomplished athlete who has a better body.
Along with the extreme sexualizing of female bodies, companies are also using incredibly strong gender roles in all their photography. Many female athletes are shown in passive, subordinate positions while the males are in a dominant role. Males are also mainly showed with only a shirt off. Women, on the other hand, tend to have more of their body showing. Typically, females will be entirely naked with clever ways to conceal certain areas of the body. Seeing these pictures can cause some girls to receive negative messages. Some analysts believe that seeing these images will encourage women to maintain a healthy body. Unfortunately, many women aren’t reading those messages. Many readers, in fact, see these images as blame for not being able to maintain the ideal body.
The traditional expectations for men have also altered slightly. Photography for men has become much more sexualized and the subjects of the photos have opened up about where the pictures are published. Men are more comfortable showing more skin and being in more sexual positioning. More than that, some athletes have agreed to pose for homosexually geared publications. Again, only some of the athletes have taken part in this. Some male athletes simply wish to be portrayed as strong, athletic men. They believe that being seen in sexual positions or in a gay magazine will feminize them in some way.
The sports photography industry have completely changed our view of athletes. Now, there are plenty of people who don’t know that some people are even athletes. The public simply sees them as attractive bodies to look at instead of as hard-working athletes.