Fat shaming Leisel Jones

Leisel Jones ... first Australian swimmer to take part in four Olympics.

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

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.

 

 

6 comments

  • I know this is supposed to be funny, bit I didn't find it so.
    I wouldn't have jumped on this bandwagon.

    Commenter
    Jo
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    July 26, 2012, 10:24AM
    • I hate to say it as I normally thoroughly enjoy your articles and like Jo I know this it meant in a humerous way however I did not find it remotely so.

      Commenter
      L
      Location
      At my desk
      Date and time
      July 26, 2012, 11:09AM
    • It is very dark, I know. I supposed I though lots of people would be taking the sincere and earnest route - which is great - and pointing out why the whole thing is ridiculous and offensive. With these super extreme examples, I guess I wanted to highlight not just how Leisel Jones isn't remotely out of shape or too fat for the pool (also, that she qualified for the team and that's all that matters) but some kind of meta commentary about how fatness in itself is ridiculed and pointed out and shamed.

      To clarify: I do not for one second think that Leisel Jones shouldn't be where she is, or that she's fat and suggestions from people that she might be are ridiculous. But I also get tired of the concern trolling that the media and spiteful bloggers get into when it comes to people's bodies and 'health' and sightliness. Clearly, the idea of hoisting anyone let alone Leisel Jones above the stadium is ridiculous and was just intended to point out how offensive it is to undermine her career with these taunts. But perhaps it didn't work, because it IS such a vile topic to even be considering.

      Commenter
      Clementine Ford
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 26, 2012, 11:35AM
    • Also, on further thought, I would clarify that it's not meant to be guffawing, lough out loud funny. It's more like cringe funny - because the stupid joke is obviously in talking about Leisel's body in the first place.

      But again, definitely prepared to accept that it might not have worked given the sensitive nature of the topic.

      Commenter
      Clementine Ford
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 26, 2012, 12:13PM
  • I'm in the opposite camp. I was expecting another article scrambling to her defense and making it about sexism, fanning the flames and keeping the story going for a few more days. These articles have almost reinforced the bullying.

    But we got a good piece of satire that highlights how silly and hyperbolic the story has become. Leisel's in perfectly healthy shape, and the only numbers that matter are the times on the scoreboard. I hope she uses the whole storm as motivation to prove her critics wrong.

    Commenter
    Stuart
    Date and time
    July 26, 2012, 12:48PM
    • Of course she is in perfectly healthy shape by any normal standards.

      But wasn't the original "accusation" that she doesn't appear to be in ideal shape for an ELITE ATHLETE on the eve of a major champtionship? That is quite a different thing and nothing at all to do with 'body image' or beating up on women or any such.

      I recall similar accusations made of Hackett, Thorpe and Huegell in recent years.

      With all that said, the only thing that counts is her performances in the pool, and I hope she does herself proud.

      Commenter
      Norris
      Date and time
      July 26, 2012, 2:04PM
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