Fat shaming Leisel Jones
Leisel Jones ... first Australian swimmer to take part in four Olympics. Photo: Getty Images
Like the rest of the country, I woke up yesterday to the horrifying news that one of our greatest Ostrayans, one of our heroes, one of our OLYMPIC LEGENDS had embarrassed us all on the world stage…..in full bathing regalia.
When carefully angled photographs were published of swimmer Leisel Jones’ behemoth figure crashing around the outer edge of the Olympic pool, the response of the media – ethical giants that they are – was naturally to stand around and point, chanting, ‘Piggy, piggy, piggy!’ Enthusiasm quickly gave way to concern, as of course it will when such bastions of integrity are running the show, and by day’s end they were urging nasty commenters and critics to leave the poor beached sea creature alone – didn’t they know she had always been a little on the hefty side? Why must we be so cruel? SOMETHING SOMETHING BODY IMAGE.
Olympics, London 2012 Swimming training at the Aquatic Centre. Leisel Jones. Tuesday July 24th 2012.Photos: Steve Christo Photo: Steve Christo
Well, I for one refuse to throw down my pitchfork and walk away. Sure, I hadn’t made any connection between Jones’ astronomical mass and her ability to swim, choosing somewhat naively to take her eight Olympic medals and presence on the current Olympic team as evidence that she deserves to call herself an athlete. But then, as is often pointed out to me on Twitter, I’m not a real journalist so what would I know?
The fact remains that when Jones was a 14 year old swimmer gracing the international arena for the first time, her body was acceptably toned and fit. Twelve years and puberty later, and I can barely see a whisp of that blonde teenaged whippet who made us all so proud. Frankly, it’s irresponsible on her part to have allowed her body to adapt and age like the rest of us whilst still maintaining a gruelling training regime. Given her gross neglect of aesthetic obligations, I’m not sure she deserves the honour of competing on behalf of her country.
There are other options. She can still be a very valuable part of the World’s Greatest Games. And I think we all agree my suggestions would certainly make up for the huge disappointment she and her mountainous flesh have turned out to be.
1. Site marker for the Olympic Stadium
Because London is a higgledy piggledy frostbitten mess where everyone’s always miserable and no one knows where they’re going, it’s not surprising the American and Australian athletes got lost on their way to the Olympic Village. It’s an embarrassment, certainly, but one that could have been avoided with a little more planning. To avoid such a thing happening for the Games proper, why not float Jones above the stadium with giant helium-inflated rings wrapped around her limbs? There’s a slight chance that her mass might block out the sun, but given that it’s London who would notice the difference?
2. Pool cleaner
By Olympics end, there’s no doubt that those stadium sized swimming pools will have taken quite a beating. Less a chlorinated bleach bath and more a murky swamp, the filters will be full to the brim with hair, snot, scabs and the obligatory bandaids that always find their way into the amneotic fluid every swimmer calls home.
But draining something that size? Let’s face it, it’s a bit of a drag. Who wants to do that when they could be partying at the Olympic Village, obsessively checking Grindr and making beautiful love connections in a four room bunk somewhere? With Jones on the case, a trying chore becomes easy! Why not pass Leisel a mop and bucket and have her get to work burning off those excess kilos she managed to gain while training upwards of six hours a day.
3. Training station for Olympic boxers
Because with all the practice she’s had being the nominated punching bag for petty, jealous, ridiculous media outlets who seem to be taking their cues from the Daily Mail and its gleeful fascination with pointing out perceived flaws in the bodies of otherwise successful women, the transition should be seamless.
So there you have it. She needn’t give up just yet. She may be large enough to command your own constellation, but it doesn’t mean she’s useless or needs to be sent off to the glue factory just yet. She’s got a lot of apologising to do, and I dare say quite a bit of punishing self-loathing to get through, but with the right attitude, she’ll at least be able to leave the noble and respected arena of professional athletics with her head held high.
Well, that’s provided she hasn’t got it buried in a mound of pies. Frankly, I’m surprised they didn’t make her swim to London.