Climbers Are Sexy, But Is The Sport Getting Too Sexy??

Climbers Are Sexy, But Is The Sport Getting Too Sexy??

A recent study looking at the “attractiveness” of certain sports that was originally discovered by RockClimberGirl.com has been getting a lot of attention on various climbing websites lately.  Reason being is that the study found that climbing is the “sexiest sport from a female perspective” with 57% of women finding climbing attractive.  In contrast “only” 41% of men found climbing attractive in members of the opposite sex.  Whether or not these numbers actually mean anything is up for debate, but it is interesting nonetheless…and it’s a great segue to something that caught my eye recently.

While reading Alex Johnson’s latest blog entry on Deadpoint Magazine’s site yesterday I was intrigued by her comments about the “scantily clad girls” she saw competing against her at the recent UBC comp in Salt Lake City:

The annual bouldering competition was fun as always. It was also unbearably hot, as the desert usually is in August, and the scantily clad girls were out in full force. I understand how dreadful the summer heat can be, but some of the outfits are beginning to cross the line. It’s out of respect for my fellow female competitors, and the respect that I hope they have for themselves, that I wish for the provocative attire to be taken down a notch.

Anyone who has seen one of these comps knows what Johnson is referring to.  The outfits worn by some of the female competitors don’t leave much to the imagination.  Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on your point of view I suppose, but in general I tend to agree with Johnson’s contention that things could be toned down a bit.

While I’m interested in hearing what others have to say on this topic, I’m also a bit hesitant to open a subject like this up for reasons that should be obvious.  Feel free to share your opinion in the comments, but know that there is a short leash for out-of-bounds comments…

You can read Johnson’s full thoughts at the aforementioned blog entry by clicking here.

Posted In: Off the Board

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85 Responses to Climbers Are Sexy, But Is The Sport Getting Too Sexy??

  1. Chockstone August 13, 2010 at 8:56 am #

    Excuse my naivete, but how skimpy are these outfits? I mean, as long as they aren’t climbing in freaking bikins…

    And what about men as well, aren’t the shirtless guys guilty of the same thing?

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    • Mark August 13, 2010 at 9:47 am #

      I refer you to the Facebook fan page for the “Bikini Boulderers”. I’d be impressed though if it looked like they actually climbed anything legitimate.

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    • Crimper August 16, 2010 at 10:31 pm #

      They are climbing in freaking bikinis. Shirtless guys don’t let their shit show when they do heel hooks

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    • Adam kolosark September 2, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

      I’m a rock climber and I had cancer but going shirtless or in abikini is plain niave but I can’t stop them so just admire the scenery while is hanging around

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      • Fuzzybear August 4, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

        i don’t see what that has to do with you having had cancer…?

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  2. (p)rude August 13, 2010 at 9:02 am #

    I think AJ is right. And no, men are not guilty because they took off their shirts. Men’s torsos have not been sexualized to the extent of women for obvious reasons. Along those same lines, no one is paying more attention to Daniel Woods’s pecs than to his climbing, whereas the same could not be said about a female climber’s anatomy versus her climbing.
    Female climbers are noticed for being “hot” first and strong second. That is fact. And it is a sad fact.
    Props go out to AJ for bringing it up and taking a stand, especially one that flies in the face of society’s priorities.

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    • what pecs August 14, 2010 at 10:45 am #

      a girl I know saw a picture of daniel woods and laughed. She thought he had the body of an underdeveloped teenager. Granted she does not climb but it goes to show what you have to give up to be at the top. On the other end of the spectrum Alex P looks like she could whip woods in a bar fight with one had tied behind her back.

      It’s good to see carlo, john, and the other big dude(don’t remember his name) out there crushing with muscle. Hopefully this will shift away from alot of the myth that you have to be twig boy to crush

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    • Jon Britton April 12, 2013 at 4:58 am #

      “Along those same lines, no one is paying more attention to Daniel Woods’s pecs than to his climbing, whereas the same could not be said about a female climber’s anatomy versus her climbing.”

      This is the fault of the observer, not the climber. To say that female climbers must cover themselves up because men will perv on them is exactly backwards.

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  3. Chris August 13, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    I applaud Alex’s stance. Later in her post she elaborates:
    “I believe trying to gain publicity using your body is pushing our sport in a negative direction and it’s sincerely disappointing. My desire is for women climbers to be notarized for their personalities, ethics, morals, professionalism, etc. Much further down the list lands climbing ability or accomplishments, and never should seeking attention for clothing, or lack thereof, come into play.”

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  4. Julian August 13, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    I think this issue brings a couple of ideas to the fore: the deeply held and very American idea of the individual right to make decisions about oneself and the longstanding tendency of our culture to sexualize the female body in every context. I think AJ is right on, and hope that we (climbers, Americans, people) can move away from the unthinking sexualization of women in general and women athletes in particular. Doing so would promote yet another deeply held American idea: equality.

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  5. Caleb August 13, 2010 at 10:20 am #

    I applaud Alex for taking a stand on this issue. I think women need to have respect for themselves and not sexualize themselves. The sport itself does that enough 🙂 Wethere these women realize it it or not, they are setting themselves up to be objectified.

    Not knowing what they look like, I will say I can’t name any other sport where women wear revealing clothes other than beach volleyball. I doubt this women would dress the way Alex is describing at a typical hot day at the crag. In my opinion the dress code shouldn’t be any different.

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    • Alanna July 18, 2014 at 1:46 am #

      Do you ever take off your shirt on a hot day while climbing Caleb? Or bat an eye when another guy does?

      Why are women setting themselves up to be objectified and men aren’t? Just because its the way society currently sees women doesn’t mean that its right… or that we should follow along. There are many examples this, including slavery, apartheid and women not being allowed to vote, which were once enforced by societal views of the time.

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  6. George Sudarkoff August 13, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    I wish people would stop perpetuating this pseudo-feminist meta-Christian BS. Human body is beautiful (male or female), human body in motion more so. That’s one of the things we come to see at sporting events. No one is crossing any unidentifiable lines by choosing to dress the way they do. And there are no self-respect issues for women who feel good about their bodies and choose to wear less. If certain things arouse you AND you choose to feel ashamed about that – it’s all the crap in your head and YOU should learn to deal with that and not blame it on OTHER people (“she was asking for it” I call this attitude).

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    • Chris August 13, 2010 at 10:41 am #

      George, there is a difference between celebrating the human body and making it a commodity.

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    • Oliver August 13, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

      > Human body is beautiful (male or female), human
      > body in motion more so. That’s one of the things > we come to see at sporting events.

      Sorry friend, not I (and many other people I know.) At sporting events, I go to see….drum-roll….sport.

      > If certain things arouse you AND you choose to
      > feel ashamed about that – it’s all the crap in
      > your head

      Ahm, not an expert on debate but I can choose to pick at your statement a million different ways.

      At any rate, I like AJ’s sentiment and she gets a +1 from me (I’m sure that made her happy.)

      I am also surprised she seems to get such overwhelming support from….guys! This alone should tell you how far the envelope has been pushed.

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  7. m1nd7r1p August 13, 2010 at 10:39 am #

    I agree with (p)rude, but would like to point out that *all* female athletes are noticed for being “hot” first. The media give disproportionate attention to “hot” female athletes, who have a much greater chance of launching a non-athletic business or career than their “average” counterparts. Here is an article from AskMen regarding attractive female athletes: http://www.askmen.com/top_10/fitness_60/61b_fitness_list.html

    “[Natalie] Gulbis released her very own 2005 calendar, posing in both golfing attire and swimwear just before the 2004 U.S. Women’s Open. Unfortunately, the uptight and apparently marketing unsavvy USGA barred the calendar from being sold at the event.” “Gulbis is one of the leaders of the pack when it comes to reinventing the idea of the golfer’s physique, even though she’s never been atop the leader board at the end of a tournament. The LPGA’s leading sex symbol, Gulbis has embraced the attention she receives for her looks and turned that popularity into a photo shoot for FHM magazine as well as a slew of endorsements.”

    “Amanda Beard’s popularity has twice seen her grace the cover of FHM and she was featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Like any other attractive female athlete, she’s beginning to dabble more in modelling and other business ventures[…]”

    “[Brandy Chastain] posed nude with strategically placed limbs and a soccer ball for Gear magazine in an article leading up to the ’99 Cup.”

    “[Kerri] Walsh and other AVP volleyball pros guest starred in a February 2006 episode of CSI: Miami.”

    “[Amy] Acuff has recruited fellow track and field athletes and put together a nude calendar, and she has appeared in Esquire, Maxim, FHM, and Playboy magazines.”

    “With endorsements from high-profile brands, such as Nike and Tag Heuer, [Maria] Sharapova’s face and body have been plastered all over television, billboards and magazines for the past few years.”

    Anna Kournikova, Serena Williams, Gabrielle Reece… Some of these women are at the top of their sport, but some are mediocre professional athletes at best, yet have parlayed their looks into a career that generates significantly more capital than their pay in the sports they are known for.

    So is it any wonder that, while competing in a national event, women who may not be the best climbers, who may not have a chance of securing a long-term career in their chosen sport, dress scantily in an attempt to gain attention from the media and marketing segments that can launch a lucrative career?

    Perhaps the most disturbing comment from the AskMen article: “[Amy] Acuff is another woman who used her body and sex appeal to draw attention to her sport. In fact, she may be the primary reason anyone knows anything about the women’s high jump. Acuff has recruited fellow track and field athletes and put together a nude calendar, and she has appeared in Esquire, Maxim, FHM, and Playboy magazines.” The take home message? Women’s sports are only get attention if they have participants who are hot and naked. Men’s sports, on the other hand, seem to reward most those who are at the top of their sport. Michael Jordon comes to mind. Attractive, yes, but also an all-star athlete. Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, David Beckham, Shaun White: top male athletes who not only become household names, but generate huge amounts of revenue based on being top in their sport. (Shaun White is estimated to make ~$6 million a year now on endorsements; Lance makes ~$28 mil (http://www.forbes.com/lists/2005/53/9IR3.html)) How many top female athletes can you name that garner multimillion-dollar incomes based on their athletic prowess? According to this Forbes article (http://www.forbes.com/2008/08/05/woods-beckham-jordan-biz-sports-cx_lr_0806athletes.html), the top paid female athlete in 2008 was Maria Sharapova, who brought in a whopping $24 million per year. Yet, despite being a household name and having a face plastered all over the media, her income fell far behind the male Formula One race car driver Kimi Raikkonen, who brought in $44 million a year. There is a link in this article that points to another Forbes article describing the top paid female athletes. Google them. They’re all very cute.

    I don’t point my finger at any of these women, nor should you. Like any of us, they’re just trying to gain financial security that will last after looks and physical prowess have diminished. Instead I point my finger at the reward system that pays men for ability and women for looks. Shaun White is, quite frankly, an ugmo, yet he now brings in millions because he’s fantastic at his sport (and I’m a ginger, so it’s not an anti-ginger thing. He’s just fugly.) Show me an “ugly”, richly-reward female athlete. Right.

    What we need are more athletes, male and female alike, to stand up and uniformly decry this system. We need to stop buying products sold by the marketing machines that reward women for their looks, and start buying products from lines that support strong female athletes. We need to stop spending our time, attention, and money on women who are “hot” just because of their looks, and we need more public and vocal attention on the disparity of what is rewarded in sports as a whole.

    And by the way, I am a man, and I like looking at pretty people. I just don’t value them *because* they’re pretty.

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    • colin August 13, 2010 at 1:06 pm #

      Your post is littered with so many over-broad statements that it’s hard to know where to start. Have you ever watched women’s tennis, golf, or basketball? Many of the female stars in these sports are not exactly sex symbols, yet make unbelievable amount of money relative to the rest of the population. An example of not-so-attractive, successful female athletes? How about the Williams sisters, Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Annika Sorenstam, Yani Tseng, Anna Nordqvist, Diana Taurasi, Lisa Leslie?

      Attractive athletes of both sexes get more endorsement deals. Period. Ever seen the David Beckham underwear ads? It is not merely a gender issue.

      Then you end your post with a general indictment of “the system” while insisting that the female athletes who engage in sexually-oriented marketing are free from blame. They aren’t. These are consensual transactions between athletes and their sponsors/the media. If a female pro-volleyball player chooses to pose nude so she can avoid getting a “real job”, then them’s the breaks. The male pro-volleyball player would probably just have to take the real job.

      And finally, I will not be shedding any tears for Maria Sharapova and her $24 million/year endorsement deal.

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  8. Aimee August 13, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    I would personally like to applaud Alex for bringing the topic up. I think it’s time to address it. Yes, sex sells. Yes, it was hot. Yes, women should have the right to wear whatever they want, but it’s also about a certain level of modesty. It’s about being notarized as an athlete and not as a piece of ass. Alex is a top performer AND one of the most beautiful professional athletes in our industry, but she is so secure in her sense of self and her ability that she doesn’t need the additional attention based on what she’s wearing. I say BRAVO, Alex, and thank you for addressing this.

    It’s difficult for someone like me to bring up something like this, as I am not a competitive, nor professional athlete and my opinion would be met with a “well what do you know anyway”. I lack the credibility that Alex has. For Alex, in her position, to speak up, is admirable and on behalf of all the self-respecting women in this industry, I thank her.

    The final straw for me goes back to the 2010 ABS nationals, when those in front of Women’s problem 2 saw Sierra Blair-Coyle’s 16-year old VAGINA during a double heel hook move. Even my boyfriend was disgusted, and he loves a good vagina!

    I appreciate Alex’s tenacity, self-respect and professionalism in starting the dialogue and I can only hope for a positive outcome.

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    • kim August 21, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

      If she was secure in her sense of self, she would not judge her competitors, specifically the one in first place. That is a tell tale sign of insecurity not security. I personally don’t appreciate her lack of respect for her competitors and her unprofessional comments.
      I was also at abs nationals and there were not any double heel hooks, make something else up next time.

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  9. Lynn August 13, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    Ahahaha! I hate the Bikini Boulderers too! What sad excuses for climbers! Put a shirt on and shut up until you pull down at least a v4!

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    • TheBikiniBoulderers September 6, 2010 at 11:56 am #

      Hi All,

      My name is Christen, and I am the founder of the Bikini Boulderers. It saddens me to see such rude things on the internet about our organization. We don’t claim to be professional climbers, or even expert climbers, and we’re certainly not models. We aren’t trying to bring sexy to climbing; we’re trying to promote cervical cancer awareness. All of us who are part of the Bikini Boulderers have had someone close to us affected by cervical cancer, and we all love rock climbing. Some people run marathons for charity–we climb in our bikinis for charity. To each her own. Being able to climb a V2 or a V12 isn’t the point, and neither is trying to “make climbing sexy.” It’s really nice of you to put down our philanthropy though. We appreciate your support.

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      • Mark September 21, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

        While I understand that Lynn might have been harsh, in my opinion, a part about being taken seriously as a legitimate group pushing for a respectable cause (which, I would call raising money for cancer research is respectable), is having a thick skin, especially when you present yourself first and foremost as this “team” that climbs in their bikinis. I will say that after following you on Facebook for an extended period of time, I never heard a thing about raising money for cancer research, and only saw “photoshoots” and photo contests. Additionally, I really can’t take someone seriously if they hope to present themselves as a serious group or even in this regard businessperson/philanthropist, and yet respond to criticism with sarcasm. Thats just not… grown up, for lack of a better word. Hopefully you can do some good, for the sake of your cause, but keep these things in mind.

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      • Jackson July 20, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

        I agree that it’s not about climbing hard, and people really should realize that, if you want to use an activity to promote your cause its not about difficulty (case and point: walk-a-thon) But you claim that you aren`t “trying to make climbing sexy“ that’s ridiculous! why are you climbing in bikinis, why not tuxedos or clown suits? It’s true that sex can get peoples attention, and can be used for good, by turning their attention to the cause, but seemingly your organization is not trying very hard to do this. After a brief peruse of your facebook page I found nothing about cervical cancer. If you were trying to make me aware, you have failed. As a side note, the comments you allow on your pictures are disgrace, I would even venture as far to say that you are perpetuating the objectification of women in climbing and are part of the problem.

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  10. Doug August 13, 2010 at 10:51 am #

    I have mixed feelings on this issue. On one hand, Alex certainly has a point. Some of the outfits atte pretty minimal. At the same time, it’s certainly no more revealing than a day at the beach. Personally, I was neither shocked not offended and I was far more impressed by the climbing than the clothes, “or lack thereof”. There was obviously not much of a chance for the ladies to show of their ethics or morality in the comp.

    I think a lot of the problem lies in the eye of the beholder in this case and in the tendency of americans to sexualize the female body.

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  11. Chockstone August 13, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    Climbing is an image driven sport in the media, you usually young, sleek and muscular guys and girls. I can’t help but thing that at the very least, it encourages the sport to be seen in terms of sexual attractiveness. It seems to be the case for basically all athletes, when what you look like takes precedence over 1) your ability, 2) your character.

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    • Chockstone August 13, 2010 at 11:18 am #

      Apologies for the spelling errors, I’m pretty smashed.

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    • m1nd7r1p August 13, 2010 at 11:28 am #

      “It seems to be the case for basically all athletes, when what you look like takes precedence over 1) your ability, 2) your character.”

      Only female athletes. Male athletes can be man-whores (Magic Johnson), dopers (Barry Bonds), or ugly (Shaun White), but not mediocre. For men, if you have the ability it seems to overrule the others.

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  12. Adam August 13, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    I’m sure I’ll get some flack here, but I don’t see the big deal. I also did not see the outfits (How about a pic or two?). However, IMHO as long as your ittybits are covered, I don’t see what the issue is… beauty is beauty, in personality, body, and movement…

    If the girls can crank then they’re going to succeed in comps, if they can’t, then they’re not going to make it far in the field, regardless of sex appeal.

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  13. Colin August 13, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    Maybe I’m off base because I don’t watch very many competitions, but it seems to me that most of the provocative outfits are worn by the under-aged competitors. AJ, Anna Stohr, Chloe Grafityadayadayada, the japanese contingent, etc. seem to dress modestly in board shorts and sleeveless tees. It’s the 16 year old American women that can’t help themselves. (Side note: Sorry, I won’t name names because I don’t want to drag any teenagers through the mud on this forum) To be frank, these high-school aged female competitors are just like others of their ilk – they dress provocatively for attention, and perhaps to mask a little adolescent insecurity.

    What should we do about it? Who knows. If some 16 year old’s vag pops out of her daisy dukes mid-problem its a parental issue, IMO. We don’t need a dress code for climbing competitions. Personally, I have no problem with grown women using their sex appeal to advance their own interests. But, if you’re one of those people who feel strongly that sex shouldn’t be used in marketing women athletes then I suppose you could boycott, or even write a letter to, the offending company.

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  14. Narc August 13, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    Thanks to everyone for the excellent comments so far!

    Colin’s point about much of this involving teenagers is why I a) have mostly avoided posting about this in the past and b) avoided included pictures as examples.

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  15. ABCD August 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    I applaud AJ for bringing up the issue, but the fact of the matter is that humans are sexual beings. It’s the only reason the human race is even existent right now (war, poverty, disease, and famine certainly don’t help). It’s admirable to try and “fight the power” but it’s too hard in the world the way it is right now. Wearing what you want is a first amendment right and regardless of what anyone says, there will always be women who push the envelope for a million different reasons. Also, let’s not forget that Puccio isn’t exactly conservative in dress which makes it more admirable for her good friend to bring up the issue.

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  16. Nilepoc August 13, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    As a photographer, I have noticed this trend in a big way. I have passed on photos for fear of getting pedophilic shots. I don’t know that a dress code is called for but modesty would be a reasonable request. Kudos to Alex for bring this up. I was actually having a discussion about this at the crag this weekend.

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  17. Climbing Islove August 13, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    As serious as this topic might be, it’s unfortunate Alex brings it up in the context of an image of her vomiting brother. I don’t mean to be sarcastic. It makes me take her point a little less seriously. She’s asking us to legitimize her as a professional climber based on professionalism, accomplishments, ethics, and, apparently, modesty of presentation, and yet we’re treated to a picture of someone puking. How about leaving that to the imagination?

    Anyway, her point is an important one to make and I agree that it’s not right that women receive recognition solely on their sex appeal. Unfortunately, the world ain’t right and it’s all just a little more complicated than that.

    One complication is the issue of feminine modesty, which is basically what Alex is advocating. I find that really surprising. Alex’s very ability to chose to be a female athlete is possible only because of women in the past who said to the hell with modesty and went out into the world wearing ‘scandalous’ pants or shorts, doing the same physical, sporting stuff men did. Unfortunately, ‘leaving something to the imagination’ is more often than not an idea used to exploit women, not empower them.

    Another complication is the double standard here for men and women. Why isn’t Alex bothered by the immodestly presented men, shirtless, sweaty and competing? It’s not true and it would be naive to think men’s sex appeal doesn’t play into their recognition as pro climbers. Why then isn’t this a problem?

    Consider too the simple fact that these women chose to dress that way.
    Is this choice just evidence for their self-disrespect, a sort of deal with the mysogynist devil to be recognized solely for sex appeal and not genuine accomplishment? In our society, yes, I suspect it partly is. But wait. Is it also not a positive sign, and evidence of these women exercising a basic sexual and physical empowerment that the men already enjoy without anyone’s moral complaint? Yes, I think that’s true too.

    One final point. Divorcing athleticism and sexuality

    So in the face of these complications, my position is that if these female athletes want to dress that way, they can dress that way. Just as it’s not a woman’s responsibility for attracting unwanted advances (or worse) by dressing sexy, it’s our responsibility–not theirs–to recognize them for the incredible athletes that they are, whatever they’re wearing.

    These women are top-class athletes, that much is obvious. They made it this far because they are that damn good. It should not fall on their shoulders to prove that fact any further, particularly not ‘proper dress, anachronistic morals and calls for ‘feminine modesty’. On top of being an accomplished athlete, if they want to be sexy that’s simply their prerogative.

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    • So on and So on August 13, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

      I’m not sure Alex was approaching the topic with the intent of creating this debate. The photo of her brother was just a thumbnail chosen for the article post.
      She had just returned form Europe, where competitors dress and behave much differently than here and she probably just found the dichotomy interesting.

      Not to mention the fact that the blog was really about her epic family vacation and all the drama that ensued. She only mentioned the attire of the fellow competitors as a side note.

      WE have made it a debate and discussion. She only unlocked the door. Perhaps it’s something that has needed to be addressed for some time.

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    • Oliver August 13, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

      I agree with a few of the things you wrote, but not with everything. For one:

      >Another complication is the double standard here
      >for men and women. Why isn’t Alex bothered by the
      >immodestly presented men, shirtless, sweaty and
      >competing?

      I think the male equivalent of some of the female outfits seen at bouldering comps would be guys climbing in speedos – I am sure that will raise an eyebrow or two.

      >So in the face of these complications, my
      >position is that if these female athletes want
      >to dress that way, they can dress that way.

      I am sure we all agree on that.

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  18. rorschah August 13, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    This is an echo of a conflict that I find pretty fascinating. I teach philosophy, and I have some folks I work with who really care about this stuff. They say it’s a conflict between what’s called second wave feminism, and third wave feminism. In summary:

    Second wave feminism: “Women’s bodies are constantly objectified and treated as sexual. The only way for women to become equals is no longer to be objectified, which means being appreciated for their abilities alone, and not their bodies.”

    Third wave feminism: “The path of second wave feminism is limiting. It forces women to act and dress like men, while actively suppressing their bodies. The path of true women’s liberation is in the freedom to dress and act whatever they want, however feminine or unfeminine they wish to be.”

    Second wave feminists, for example, often think porn is terrible and destructive to women’s place in society, where third wave feminists often think that porn is awesome, that women should be as free to buy, enjoy, act in porn as much as men (or not, as they choose).

    Alex J is giving a classic second-wave feminist criticism. The third-wave response is probably something like: “Alex J. is subtly advancing the old male idea that women’s bodies are inherently sinful and sexual, and men’s are not. The end-point of her argument is that men can dress any way they want (shirtless, shirted) but women must cover up. This is not liberation, this is restriction.”

    I don’t know exactly how I stand – it’s super-complicated – but I will say that I’m partial to the old Greek thing that human bodies, especially athelete’s bodies, are completely beautiful, that sex is part but not a whole of it, and that part of what drove the Olympics was the appreciation of the aesthetic perfection of some human bodies.

    The Olympics used to be performed totally naked, by the way.

    And I’ll say that, I’m glad that Nalle H. goes shirtless and Alex Puccio tends to climb in tight clothing, even though I’m only attracted to one of them – because both their bodies are incredible things to see, in motion. They’re both like Greek statues of old, and seeing their muscles in motion while they move just makes me more in awe of what human bodies are capable of.

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    • George Sudarkoff August 13, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

      Beautiful, I wish I could present my arguments that succinctly! (And I definitely need to read more about 3rd wave feminism.)

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    • Shannon August 13, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

      While I agree that it’s a complicated issue, I think both GirlTalk and Sarah make excellent points. There is a whole range of possible viewpoints that lie between what you’ve described as 2nd wave and 3rd wave feminism – it’s possible to be feminine and look good without showing it all off. It didn’t sound to me like AJ was advocating pants and long sleeves for every woman competing, but a reasonable approach to what women are wearing. If things are popping out for the crowd to see, as Aimee described above, you’ve crossed the line into inappropriate, and the same would go for a guy.

      As for nudity at the Olympics, as far as I know that was a bunch of dudes competing against one another- did women even spectate? So, kind of a moot point. If you boys want to go off in the woods and boulder naked, have at it.

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  19. calgirl August 13, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    I don’t think revealing clothing is necessarily restricted to today’s teens. Look at these women back in the day, especially the European ones Catherine and Isabelle.

    http://fcorpet.free.fr/Denis/M/Grimpeuses/01-Climbing-Beauty.html

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  20. GirlTalk August 13, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    Can I put a female word out there?

    There are obvious positive and negative perspectives about female attire – or the lack thereof. But thats really what its all about: perspective. And here are mine.

    When I was 15 or 16 I went out climbing with my coach and some other teammates. I was wearing a pair of red Khadejha shorts, thinking nothing of it because we were going to the beach and it was going to be hot. After a few climbs my coach commented on them, saying he would not spot me in those shorts again because he literally felt uncomfortable looking up.

    This incident really made me think. I knew they were short, but it had never occurred to me that they were TOO short. I had been thinking of them purely because of the heat, and that same thinking was definitely a factor during the UBC Pro Tour and any competition held outdoors in the blazing heat. But it was also understandable for my coach to point out the fact that they were too short to climb in – which should be taken into consideration, no matter the temperature.

    I think that theres a fine line between what is attractive and what is inappropriate, and that women should use common sense and good judgement to decide what to wear. Theres nothing wrong with a girl looking pretty, and there is nothing wrong with a girl using what she has. But use it in a way that combines both climbing and looks.

    Don’t rely purely on attractiveness, and MOST OF ALL don’t let your attractiveness outshine your ability. Use it to compliment the grace and power that the female body is known for. If people are beginning to notice the way you dress over the way you crush, its time for a change.

    And come on…when I say common sense, its not that hard. Think about the moves in climbing. If you’re going for a heel hook and your privates show, don’t wear it. If your bum shows, don’t wear it. If you’re doing a reachy move and your boob could pop out of your shirt…don’t wear it!! Leave something to the imagination.

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    • Shannon August 13, 2010 at 6:05 pm #

      Right on – this is precisely what I would have said, and I think this is the point Alex was trying to make in her blog. There is definitely a line between showing off the female form or an athletic body, and vulgarity.

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    • Narc August 16, 2010 at 7:40 am #

      As a former youth climbing coach I couldn’t agree more. I never had this problem but it’s definitely something that could put any adult in an uncomfortable position.

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  21. Aimee August 13, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

    Very well said. Thank you 🙂

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  22. Sarah Marvez August 13, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

    This thread made me think back to watching the movie Momento- watching Barbara Zangerl crushing boulders while wearing a simple t-shirt. She didn’t need to expose anything to get attention, her athletic prowess was enough. She made me rethink the image of the successful woman climber.

    Wear what makes you comfortable, what supports your athletic goals, and finally something that supports your boobs. There’s something very sexy about leaving some things to the imagination…

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  23. Phunk August 13, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    Never mind the sport, I’m mostly worried about *me* getting too sexy.

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  24. samuel August 13, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    Just about any sport has women in skin tight wares.

    Running, Vollyball, Polevaulting.

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  25. Larry August 14, 2010 at 1:07 am #

    I just finished writing a huge post as a reply to this, and then decided to delete the whole thing and sum it up.

    Get over it.

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    • Narc August 16, 2010 at 7:31 am #

      Thanks??

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  26. Bertje August 14, 2010 at 3:53 am #

    Imagine Chris Sharma’s hairy ass climbing a V14 boulder problem at the comps in a string tanga. Or that other top climber, Adam Ondra, sweating and grunting in his speedo.

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    • JJ September 20, 2010 at 9:04 am #

      2 words:

      Christian Griffith…

      This reference may be beyond most…most young uns don’t know the sports “checkered history”….

      1 more link…even more shocking…

      http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=5188&tn=20

      Yah…nekkid….

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      • JJ September 20, 2010 at 9:09 am #

        Maybe I should have added two more words for CG…

        banana hammock

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    • JJ September 20, 2010 at 9:13 am #

      voila

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  27. really August 14, 2010 at 10:35 am #

    I watched the comp and did not really see anything out of line with what the girls had on. I guess when folks are crankin like that I would not even hardly notice if they were ass naked I just study movement.

    Go to a gymnastics comp. The girls have a certain attire because it suits movement. These girls are out there trying to win comps (I’m assuming) so they are only going to put things on that help them.

    To be honest, (and I’m going to get hammered for this one) that I’m really not that attracted to the girls who are cranking v12 (physically). Now as far as their dedicated, spirit, motivation…I could not be more attracted. I like hour glass figure (no that does not make me sexiest it is just personal preference)

    Either way sex has always been apart of climbing and always will.

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  28. Egghead August 14, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    IMHO this is a parenting/societal issue, not a climbing or sports issue. Have any of you been to the mall lately? Sheesh. I am glad I have boys and not girls.

    People should be allowed to wear whatever they want, but there has to be some line somewhere. If private bits are coming out, then that outfit is too small. Everything else is a shade of grey, but it’s a parent’s responsibility to their kid to help them decide what is appropriate.

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    • Nipple August 14, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

      I think I may have caught a peak at Alex puccio’s nipple. I’m pretty sure her top was slipping a little bit. No harm no foul.

      Who care what folks wear as long as they climb well.

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  29. quirkology August 14, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    The results would be much different in the US. climbing is popular in europe. It is just beginning to take on so I have a feeling that the average Woman would careless is guys climb in the states.

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  30. w00ter August 14, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

    My fav discussion of the subject…caution, hilarity ahead

    http://sendaustin.com/2009/08/19/news-flashes-and-other-flashes/

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    • texas August 14, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

      god bless texas.

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    • your mom August 21, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

      SO FUNNY.

      My sentiments exactly 🙂

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  31. sharon August 14, 2010 at 6:14 pm #

    So now we are judging females for how they dress, how about skin color, hair color or religion too? One of the problems in the climbing industry is the constant judgment of others for whatever reason, this is one example. Major sports organizers would wonder if this discussion is a joke or is the sport really this remedial.

    In most female sports, like U.S. track and field, athletic attire is standard, meaning a sports bra and shorts. The shorts are short, not too your knee’s. This would be considered normal not abnormal. Prana as an example, is not supplying sports teams in other sports with athletic attire.

    Climbers(athletes) are free to wear whatever they want to wear or whatever they feel most comfortable in. The reason the younger generation dresses like a modern athlete is because it is standard athletic attire not because it is sexy.

    You create your own image based on who you are, how you treat others, how you compete, how you characterize yourself and others in your sport, how you look, etc…

    The negative comments cast a dim light on the industry, too bad for that….

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    • a August 14, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

      though in track & field they don’t do double-heelhooks while facing the crowd…

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  32. Kieran August 14, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    Viva la Verve Clothing!!!

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  33. Narc August 16, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    Thanks again to everyone who has commented thus far. Obviously this whole issue is tinged with shades of gray but it is important to discuss nonetheless.

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  34. Adam August 17, 2010 at 3:29 am #

    Honestly, I’d be the first to be distracted by a scantally clad woman, but I didn’t find this to a problem for me at the UBC comp in Salt Lake. Even though I was there, I’d have to go back to see what each competitor was wearing. If one of these girls was obviously dressed inappropriately, I’d think I’d remember. I suppose that I could see it becoming a problem, though. At the same time, I don’t think that olympic gymnast’s leotard leaves much to the imagination either. I suppose it’s natural as climbing becomes more mainstream. Reminds me of when Lindsey Vonn (skiier) got flack in the last olympics.
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/sports_blog/2010/02/lindsey-vonn-sex-sexual-pose-provocative-skier-olympics-winter-sexually-suggestive.html

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  35. donkey August 18, 2010 at 12:13 am #

    someone please post a photo of the attire in question at the UBC. I love Alex, but I think she is a bit off base. If she had said this at the ABS comp, it would have held more water. If she wants to wear a burka, she can. And, if that fat kid at the pool wants to keep his shirt on, we will thank him. But, for the rest of us who aren’t so offended by skin and don’t see it as objectification, continue on with your lives.

    The sad thing about this whole argument is, as Americans we will giggle over a violent movie and laugh when a zombies brains get bashed in with a bat, but God forbid a girl shoes more than an ankle.

    And all you girls gnawing your soap boxes, don’t pretend you don’t enjoy seeing a hot shirtless guy or (depending on your flavor) a hot shirtless girl. If you truly wanted to feel liberated, you would admit should admit that much to yourself.

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  36. climberchick August 18, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    I think the way Puccio dresses is just her personality. Same w/ Johnson. It would not be as flattering to see Puccio in boy, ass-flatting board shorts. And it definitely wouldn’t be as flattering seeing Johnson in the Magico shorts. Just two diff body types. I think there should be a little more conservativeness amongst the girls, but shorts and a sports bra is not any different that chicks surfing or playing beach volley ball. (because its hot)… Also, if you’re under 16 and wearing coochie cutters, shouldn’t your parents be the one to say something?? Wear what your comfortable in and what YOU think you look good in, I can’t imagine showing your butt cheeks could really be that comforable?

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  37. YEM August 19, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    I don’t care what these girls wear because I’m not involved with the comp scene and even if I was it’s none of my bussiness. But I have heard girls who are involved complain about how some of these individuals dress. There is a big difference between wearing a sports bra and flashing your 15 year old privates. Some people just got no class. Climbing is become commecialized more and more every year so you should probably get used to this shit, learn to ignore it or quit.

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  38. Somebody August 23, 2010 at 12:09 am #

    Wearing revealing clothing is not a problem within itself. How people react to that clothing is their own problem, not a problem of the wearer. I have been criticized by various individuals for basically every article of clothing. I have had and have witnessed basically every type of article of clothing criticized for not being modest enough. It seems that most of the time people will say something along the lines of “too much” as though something just slightly different would be acceptable, and everything outside of their personal boundaries is inappropriate. If someone is uncomfortable by someone’s show of the human body, that is not a fault of the human who possesses said body – it is the fault of the viewer for interpreting that body in such a way that makes him or her uncomfortable.

    But it was good that Alex Johnson opened up discussion of this trend, but it isn’t good that there is such a large amount of overlooking why female athletes feel the need to dress this way. Is it because appearance is too important in sports, including and maybe even especially climbing? Is it because females who reveal their bodies more are celebrated and rewarded with more attention? Can these things be attributed to the aggressive socialization through product marketing of teenage girls in both stages of pre-pubescence and pubescence? THIS is what should be discussed. It is very true that many of the athletes at the UBC dressed how they did because that was how they felt more comfortable, but when an overwhelming amount of female athletes are dressing in a certain fashion, and especially when most of those happen to be younger, then it is important to discuss why that is the case.

    My favorite part of Alex Johnson’s post was this: “But I believe trying to gain publicity using your body is pushing our sport in a negative direction and it’s sincerely disappointing. My desire is for women climbers to be notarized for their personalities, ethics, morals, professionalism, etc. Much further down the list lands climbing ability or accomplishments, and never should seeking attention for clothing, or lack thereof, come into play.” I think her point was that she doesn’t want women climbers to be known for their appearances, or worse yet, to feel that they have to be known for their appearances. And I entirely support this.

    There were, however, certain things that I did not like in her blog post. For example, I did not like the condescending attitude at the end (“Let’s leave something to the imagination, girls”), but it was very polite and discreet otherwise. I really, really, really hope that any future discussions about this, in these comments or anywhere, are just as respectful as Johnson’s post was.

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  39. Amanda August 23, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    There’s nothing you prudes can do to stop me from onsighting your problem in my sports bra and Mojo shorts. Sorry, jerks. You’ve tried your best to keep women from enjoying just having a body but you’re failing. Equality is on it’s way and after all the prudes die, we’ll be able to take off our shirts and exist in peace.

    At the same time, I certainly think that it’s okay to enjoy a beautiful body. I definitely notice every hot guy walking around showing his nipples at the gym, but I don’t turn into a slobbering ape. Some of us are well adjusted and can actually handle being around attractive people without freaking out about it. Maybe if you’re such a prude you should try bowling where you don’t have to worry about seeing a hot body.

    By the way, do any of y’all have an issue with men wearing basically nothing for swimming? I’ve seen my fair share of man-bits at meets and magically, the world didn’t come to an end and no one (except me and the three women I was with) cared. What about men who wear cycling clothing? You can see his ENTIRE PACKAGE, veins and all. Gah, dudes, leave something to the imagination /sarcasm.

    This debate is wrought with sexism and it’s disgusting.

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    • sweatpants August 24, 2010 at 10:12 am #

      I agree Amanda. Go ahead and take your top off.

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      • Egghead September 1, 2010 at 9:30 am #

        Says the man who “shows his entire package, veins and all”, during his triathalons. LOL.

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  40. Carrie August 31, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    Wow. Nothing wrong with males or females wearing what they want when they climb, that’s the freedom we have, right? I think the bikini boulderers are a great group, it takes a lot of nerve to do what they are doing, and it’s for a good cause. otherwise, to each his own. if you don’t like it, don’t look at it. i don’t get offended when i see guys running around skimpy while climbing, nor when I see girls. i really don’t care, i just care about climbing.

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  41. Jana Bell September 15, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    cervical cancer, and we all love rock climbing. Some people run marathons for charity–we climb in our bikinis for charity. To each her own. Being able to climb a V2 or a V12 isn’t the point, and neither is trying to “make climbing sexy.” It’s really nice of you to put down our philanthropy though. We appreciate your support.
    VA:F [1.9.4_1102]

    I know Christan (the founder) and it was not started to make anything sexy and that isn’t even how Christan thinks of it! The bikini boulderers are there to bring attention to cervical cancer..and the point of bringing attention is to do something people notice!! obviously it worked..people notice their organization but are to absorbed in being rude and selfish to see what they are bringing attention to and that is the important issue of cervical cancer…people need to see beyond the surface! If you had to get people’s attention for a great cause..what would you do?

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    • Narc September 15, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

      Jana, I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts and I respect what the Bikini Boulderers are trying to accomplish. I just want to make sure it’s clear that this post was aimed toward creating a discussion about the types of outfits climbers are wearing at major competitions (as referenced in Alex Johnson’s post) and not necessarily some of the things that have come up in the comments. Best of luck with everything!

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    • kate d. September 16, 2010 at 10:08 am #

      how are you promoting cervical cancer awareness by climbing in your bikini? are you raising money?

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  42. karen October 3, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    Check out the cover of outside magazine, Alex P in shorts and a sports bra, normal attire for female athletes. Go Alex… The other female athletes in the magazine are not wearing boys t shirts and shorts to there knees. And guess what, a climber on the cover of a magazine not dedicated to climbing will help the sport grow which makes it easier for anyone in the sport to make a living, a normal living.But hey, Live in your van, and climb in your pajamas, see how far that gets you but good luck to you….

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  43. syl October 28, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    seriously?? who gives a [email protected]%T!!! Climb your own climb, and be your own self. I think some of these people have forgotten what climbing is all about. .

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  44. Jonathan January 3, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    Is this really an issue? Really?Come on this is all just a bit silly.

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  45. Henrik January 6, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    Really interesting topic!

    I haven’t read all the posts but most of them seems to blame women for wearing clothes, revealing to much of their bodies. If they are looking for attention, who are they wearing these clothes for? The men (and women).

    Let’s not remember that men have been objectifying women for centuries and now is a part of our culture and social structure. From the beginning not allowing to reveal much of themselves to today, revealing a bit more. This affects us more than we think and is something we all should discuss more often.

    Luckily things have changed the past 50 years and women are allowed(?) to wear whatever they want today. So why do they think that they look good, wearing ”revealing clothes”? I believe it’s a combination of two things. A) Having a fit body is sexy. We can’t really deny that we are sexual beings, having sex. B) They think they look good because of the ideals created by media based on our cultures and social structures, women being objects. This is the ugly part since sex puts a lot of pressure on the kids these days. When you’re around 16, you shouldn’t need to think about being sexy, as ”I need to look sexy so I can have sex”. Also insecurity, self-confidence, self-esteem plays a huge part in our behavior in the teens.

    This question is a lot bigger than, ”these girls should show some respect to other women and themselves”. It’s about human values, ideals, social structures, cultures etc.

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  46. Kim Miller February 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    im going to climb naked!

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  47. Stacey May 14, 2012 at 3:03 am #

    In my opinion, as long as she is covering her private areas from being seen, then so be it. If a girl has a body, then she should wear whatever suits her. And if you have a nice body and choose not to wear clothing that is minimal, that is great as well but that is a decision you make.

    I feel most comfortable climbing in spandex shorts and a sports bra. For some people that may seem perfectly fine and for others that may seem like too much. I think this works the same for everyone. We all have different taste.

    This is a good topic but reasonably, every sport is becoming sexualized because it has been this way. I believe as long as everything stays covered, its fair game =) one people see vagina, that’s just gross lol

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  48. Monkeyboy November 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    Is it really pertinent to even notice what clothes these people are wearing? As one commenter has already pointed out, it’s unprofessional to even bring up the subject. It’s too much of a “Look at her hair, isn’t it shit?” kind of comment/assessment to me. What difference does it make if a woman climbs a 9a route in full bib and tri-climate or nothing at all? She still climbed a f***ing 9a!! Let go of the stick, it’s not doing your climbing any good at all.

    Or maybe I’m wrong, and mountains/cliffs/crags don’t like it when you climb with hardly any clothes?

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