April 6, 2010

A "slightly gender-ambiguous athlete who reads either as a pretty hot boy or a trans-girl, and not particularly a person who falls into the realm of how people see beautiful."

There's a 6'8" female basketball player — Brittney Griner — and the NYT article about her is on the subject of how she "redefine[s] feminine beauty ideals."

The quote in my title is from a model casting agent. I guess women, more than men, if they happen to grow really tall, think of becoming models, rather than basketball players. But Griner is a basketball player. Why discuss her as if she is a model? We don't much care what the male basketball players look like or think about stretching our concepts of male beauty when they don't conform to conventional standards.

53 comments:

Scott said...

How can anyone in a multiracial society presume to be able to define an arbitrary standard for beauty to begin with?

Brittney Griner is a Black woman. She is beautiful. I don't think the standard needs to be "redefined" to fit her. I think the author needs to stop fetishizing women.

MadisonMan said...

So, an article in the NYTimes, written by a white man, quotes a lot of white people about how beautiful a black athlete is.

I think the article could have benefited from a black perspective.

Scott said...

@MM: Do we know he is white? I do think it's easy to assume he is, though.

AllenS said...

I'd like an honest answer on what courses she's taking and what kind of a student she is. Or is she there solely because of her being tall?

MadisonMan said...

I was curious, and did google image searches on everyone in the article. Holly Sweet required more than a name.

Pogo said...

"“She calls our attention to the unnecessary rigidity of sex roles and makes a number of feminist points along the way.”"

The article is a boilerplate postmodern deconstructivist college sophomore paper on Gender in [INSERT TOPIC HERE].

This is what you get from useless university indoctrinations and Women's Studies courses. There's probably an iPad app for creating a random piece on any topic that reads the same way.

Who wants to read such claptrap?
No one.
Hence the decline in NYT readership.

Rob said...

Said AllenS: "I'd like an honest answer on what courses she's taking and what kind of a student she is. Or is she there solely because of her being tall?"

Probably also because she's a talented basketball player, too. However, your point still stands, in a way. I looked at the Baylor athletics web site (BaylorBears.com), and while I easily found a bio on Miss Griner, nowhere on it did it say what she was studying.

rhhardin said...

Female beauty is whatever men respond to.

Women internalize that.

If you don't find at least a displaced fantasy of a man caring for you and the kids appealing, you can do what you want, but it will not fit well under the category beauty as applied to women.

rhhardin said...

Imus refuses to comment on women's basketball.

Bob From Ohio said...

She is not androgynous at all. She has a pretty, feminine face and long hair.

She looks nothing like a boy. She is just tall.

Lynne said...

I just glanced at the NYT photos and she looks pretty feminine to me. I'm not seeing the issue here.

Julius Ray Hoffman said...

Brittney Griner is not redefining feminine beauty ideals. But the NY Times is trying to! After all, they even write in the piece about the

political awakening that provoked shifts in both consciousness and standards of what it meant to be a woman

This is a piece about politics, not sports.

traditionalguy said...

Brittany is attractive and has an inner beauty too. She is a result of mixed marriages, and that will pick up the best traits from each line. Tiger Woods is another example. The asian/european/african blends are beautiful and seem highly intelligent and also have good personality traits. But the Blond and redhead will never go out of style because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is well to remember that 90% of world population is not european/american. We need to accept all colors of people that are educated and hard working. We could call it the Human Race.

DADvocate said...

Griner is pretty. The rest of the article is bullshit. I'll still take Candace Parker who played at Tennessee a couple of years ago and led them to two national titles. But, hey, she's only 6' 4".

Maguro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maguro said...

Nothing in the article about Griner's most famous exploit, sucker-punching that other chick during a game.

I know it's an article about beauty, but you'd think they'd at least mention it. Seems relevant.

Chris N said...

"With her attenuated Gumby torso, coltish legs and tomboy features, the still growing Ms. Griner falls well outside familiar beauty standards"

Ah, the beauty standard(s). He/she/he-she/she-he who controls that/those, controls the world.

Thank you NY Times.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

That's nice. Unusually tall student plays basketball. Seems pretty expected. I hope she has fun and helps out her team well. Always good to have hobbies.

Why should we look to take anything else from it than that?

- Lyssa

David said...

Same girl who cold cocked one of her opponents earlier this year, right? It's the inner beauty.

danielle said...

Well said Scott & MadisonMan !

i dont see much difference in the way they discuss this lovely young lady and they way most people discuss women in cultures with different standards of beauty than their own.

And on the relevance of the male basketball player: men's basketball is such a presence and a force of its own that it and its players are in a class of its own. they've already got money, power and fame and are not subject to redefinition ... and certainly not through the (false) arbiters of beauty in the fashion industry !

edutcher said...

The prose sounds like the kind of PC stuff the Gray Lady was churning out this time last year when we were supposed to believe Michelle was a fashion diva.

Nothing against Miss Greiner, but she's no Diahann Carroll.

danielle said...

if people in the fashion industry tried to evaluate male basketball players in this way, everyone would see them for the frauds that they are !

can you imagine ? comparing kobe to some puny, skinny little male model. what a joke.

MnMark said...

Another step in the great progressive project to try to make women manly and men feminine and generally paper over with ideology the natural differences in human beings.

All differences must be erased! Nothing is better than anything else!

The manly freak-girl is to be applauded as the vanguard of a new definition of beauty!

Skeptical said...

The Griner effect is totally different when you hear her speak while you are looking at her. Her voice is not just a deep woman's voice; it is a man's voice. That makes a large difference as to how she is perceived, I think.

Sigivald said...

Maybe the problem here is that I'm not a model casting agent.

Because she looks like a girl to me, not a "pretty hot boy or a trans-girl".

The fashion industry and its analysts (or the vast majority of same) are irrelevant, worthless, and clueless.

Christy said...

The girl has major skills. I was fuming at this giantess for the first half of the Baylor/Tennessee game. Then dispirited, switched to listening on the radio while working. Basketball on the radio is pretty boring, isn't it?

Can she give birth to fat babies who grow up to be fine athletes? Isn't that, ultimately, the final measure of beauty in a woman? If one is a Darwinist.

Iapetus said...

@Skeptical: Not only is her voice as deep as a man's, she walks like a male. I've been around a lot of athletes all my life, and Griner has the body of a male and carries herself as one. That said, so what? Is she a great athlete? No, not right now. She towers over all of her opponents and uses that to her advantage. But when faced with the challenge of the accomplished UConn team, she did not play such a great game. In the post, she was schooled by Maya Moore, who is a fantastic women's basketball player.

When it comes to women athletes, for my money there are few better than the Williams sisters, neither of whom has the slim body of a runway model.

danielle said...

i was surprised not to see the williams sisters mentioned in this article ... though they did talk about sharapova ...

i took that blindness as a signal that the author was probably white (answering @Scott at 8.50am) ...

danielle said...

@ Iapetus
are there any female athletes that are as slim as runway models ? I don't think that's physically possible for a competitive athlete.

Eric said...

Why discuss her as if she is a model?

Money. Like it or not the money in women's sports goes to the beautiful women and not the best athletes. Think people like Danika Patrick or Anna Kournikova.

For a few years Michelle Wie was the most highly paid female athlete. While she was a promising amateur player, she's well below average as a professional golfer. She had to drop out of a couple tournaments because in the LPGA if you're too far over par you can't play for the rest of the season.

Blue@9 said...

Somewhere out there there's a seven foot man who is smitten and calling FTD right now.

rhhardin said...

Cyndi Boste has a very low voice and will be setting no standards of feminine beauty.

Try the audio samples, Night Ride, and Daddy Comes Home.

Very popular.

TMink said...

Hot trans-girl?

Who in the world thinks these things? Some gay guy who finds her masculinity sexy?

Trey

Marcia said...

Why do we all have to be beautiful?

When a woman has accomplished something notable, why do the media feel like they must look for a way to label her beautiful instead of, say, simply noting the accomplishment?

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

She is beautiful, athletic, and talented. That article was snotty and sexist.

Toy

Cedarford said...

Sometimes real beauty and athletic skill go together in young female athletes. Not merely "attractive", as well conditioned females tend to have well-toned hot bods that make them enormously attractive even with horse faces..(sorry Steffi!).
But real "movie star looks"? That would be rare sort - the Anna Invanovic, Candace Parker, Torah Bright (the Aussie snowboard gold medalist) type.
Griner is not in that class. And actually is handicapped somewhat by excess height. Guys tend not to date women significantly bigger or taller than they are - and are less and less likely to when you increase the deviation. But very big and tall guys have no issue with dating women and settling in with women smaller than they are.

That leaves the really big or tall women on the Outs. A fact long recognized.
Even in modelling. You have some 6' and 6'4" models that are right on the edge of being "too much". But Griner at 6'8" is likely "too much woman" to get regular work.

fivewheels said...

Michelle Wie "well below average"? Ridiculous. Her current world ranking is 9th. And that's with her attending Stanford full-time and hampered by injuries the last year-plus.

Bob_R said...

It's time for some good old Althouse SHORTS BLOGGING. One of the big problems for Brittney and almost all other female basketball players is how unfeminine and generally asexual the current style of baggy shorts. She would look a lot more conventionally beautiful displaying those long legs in short shorts.

BTW she is going to be a great ball player. Fun to watch.

pduggie said...

according to the article

"Over the last three decades, Dr. Castle added, “There’s been increased visual and possibly social tolerance, especially in the realm of women’s sports, of individuals who could reasonably be called androgynous.”"

what is the evidence for

1. More 'tolerance' (visual tolerance?)

2. That she is 'reasonably called androgynous'

the article tells us

"That Ms. Griner falls into such a category can be inferred from the volume of inane Web chatter dedicated to such burning issues as “Is Brittney Griner a lesbian?” or “Is Brittney Griner a man?”"

Sheesh. So the evidence that she is "resonably" called androgynous is that yahoos on the internet (called inane by the author, even) wonder if she's a lesbian or man.

Even if that worked, it kinda undercuts the "tolerance" meme.

Iapetus said...

@danielle at 1:32. Probably not, but I suppose Allison Stokke, the former pole vaulter, may have come close. In any event, my quibble is not with those who over-value Griner's appearance, but those who over-value her abilities as a basketball player. She's tall. Her opponents are much shorter. As a freshman, she's simply not as skilled as all the PC sportswriters make her out to be. She may have potential, but I doubt she is a Wilt Chamberlain. She's young. Time will tell.

Methadras said...

Clearly a woman, an athletic, black, beautiful woman who has a talent very few can attain. What's the problem here again? She is using her talents to promote herself a better life. That is my hope for her, that is my wish for her. Good luck to her.

This characterization of her is petty, venal, and frankly out of place if not vindictive. It has the smear of envy or jealousy written on it.

Christy said...

So if she goes into politics, as Bill Bradley did, will her deep voice work for or against her?

Big Mike said...

It took a bit of searching, but here is an old Sports Illustrated article about a 6' 10" women's basketball player who was elected Homecoming Queen at Vanderbilt back in the day. Her short ("only" 6 feet even) was a New York fashion model at the time.

There's a picture of the family in the original article, but you have to click on the "view issue" icon and (electronically) leaf through the issue to find it.

My point is that Griner is scarcely the first tall female athlete to be recognized as beautiful.

Paul said...

danielle said...i was surprised not to see the williams sisters mentioned in this article ... though they did talk about sharapova ... i took that blindness as a signal that the author was probably white

Since white journalists such as Dianne Sawyer always knock themselves out to gush over how beautiful they think the Williams sisters are, I would not take the absence of a mention of them the way you do.

Athletes have an attractiveness that comes from their high degree of fitness and their physical grace, but why do we have to exaggerate and call them beautiful when they're not? Is that something they expect?

I wouldn't call Brittney Griner beautiful. She's fairly good looking, isn't that enough?

Re the NY Times, it cracks me up that in their advertising they always want to push the message that smart people read the Times, and if you want to have people think you're smart, you better subscribe. When someone brags to me about how much they enjoy the Times--and people actually do that-- it makes me peg them as middle-brows. Same with NPR. It's okay to read it/listen to it, but thinking that that validates your intelligence is pretty lame.

ironrailsironweights said...

All this talk about Brittney Griner's sexual identity is absolutely ridiculous. I talked with her a couple months ago and trust me, she sounds like any other woman. It was a totally chance encounter - I was in the men's restroom at the airport, standing at the urinal, and she was standing at the one next to me.

Peter

Eric said...

Michelle Wie "well below average"? Ridiculous. Her current world ranking is 9th. And that's with her attending Stanford full-time and hampered by injuries the last year-plus.

What's ridiculous is that ranking. In her career she's won one (1) LPGA tournament. One. The "Lorena Ochoa Invitational" in 2009, which isn't even a majors tournament.

But let's pretend for a moment she actually deserves to be ranked 9th, even though she couldn't place better than 11th in a majors tournament last year and placed 27th in the only one this year. In 2007 she was the only female athlete in the top 50 by endorsement income before she'd even won a single professional golf tournament. You can't even begin to justify that based on her skills as a golfer.

danielle said...

paul said "Since white journalists such as Dianne Sawyer always knock themselves out to gush over how beautiful they think the Williams sisters are, I would not take the absence of a mention of them the way you do."

the author of this piece is a *fashion* journalist. i really dont expect fashion journalists to be up on sports, or to have the same broad cultural awareness and appreciation as other mainstream journalists. (what you call the PC police that you seem to think Dianne Sawyer and others are subject to.)

what would surprise me is a black journalist of any sort writing about feminine beauty ideals and not talking about how gender ideals differ by culture (mainstream versus any other); *and* specific to this article, when women in sports are mentioned -- leaving out the Williams sisters within this dialog.

i dont think that's possible.

fivewheels said...

Eric seems not to know the meanings of the words "average" or "well" or "below".

sonicfrog said...

Why does this conversation draw me to her?

Many of Joan's song are self effacing. She knows she's not God's gift to the standard feminine role model, i.e. a babe, and yet we love her all the more for it. She's a real person.

sonicfrog said...

Rhhardin, thanks to the pointer for Cyndi Boste. I had never come across her.

Galvanized said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Galvanized said...

I guess it WOULD be like taking a genius like Bill Gates and comparing him someone like Mr. Universe -- apple vs. orange. But, still, with the shift to redefine ideas of beauty and the global face, people are actively looking for an alternative to the stereotypical America idea of beauty, and this young lady epitomizes that shift. Still, to "androgynize" her beauty shows a lack of appreciation of feminity in all its forms. The article more shows the author's struggle with accepting a more diverse and multicultural idea of beauty. Even modeling agencies and casting agents are sick of the stereotypical American idea of beauty, instead seeking out women with height, caramel skin, darker hair, green/brown eyes, and exotic features.

LDUTheCoach said...

With more and more beautiful women coming into athletic world, it can only be assumed that we will only see more gorgeous women in sports as the years go on… But right now, in 2010 we are pretty blessed. We have Danika Patrick, Sharapova, Kournikova, Lindsey Vonn, Amy Taylor, Jennie Finch, Milia Jones, heck even bia and branca the brazilian synchronized swimmers…

All of them are talented at what they do, but lets be honest, I love watched them play in their given sport simply because there is nothing better than watching a sexy athlete… if you agree, check out the hottest 20 women in sports and vote on which one you think is the hottest. Go to: http://www.lionsdenu.com/the-hottest-women-in-sports-gallery-poll/

Honestly, there are so many of them now a days I wish they could somehow all be on the same team in the same sport lol