Dec 15

Who Gets to Dress Serena?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

I’m going to start this post but merely saying, “I have a question” and “I’d be very interested in your opinion.”

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Yesterday, it was announced that Serena Williams has been named Sportsperson of the Year.



What a tremendous and well-earned accomplishment!


Serena is the first individual woman to receive the honor since 1983.




Oddly enough, this morning, though, it’s not her amazing tennis skills I’m reading about.  It’s not the fact that this 34 year old woman went 53-3 in 2015 with five titles, including at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, that provides the primary focus.


No, this morning,  all of the chatter is about the magazine cover.

It’s not about tennis.

It’s people complaining about Serena’s pose and her outfit.

Why is she not poised in an athletic stance, wearing a tennis skirt?


Well, it appears (I wasn’t in the room at the time and until I talk to her personally, or see an interviewer ask her the question on camera, I can’t confirm…and if either of those things happen, or I get more information, I will definitely share that.) that both were her choice.  No surprise, really, considering that as a young girl, she wanted to be a wedding dress designer.  And, like her sister (who already has her own line of activewear), Serena has future plans to launch herself into fashion after she retires from tennis.


In July, when Serena appeared on the cover of New York Magazaine happily she was “portrayed as the complex, multi-faceted human being she is—a woman who’s dominating multiple fields unapologetically.”


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I adore those words!  It’s Serena being Serena, unapologetically.  We all have that right.



I actually had a similar discussion with some MMA fighters, not too long ago.  My question was, “Why do the male fighters just show up in their fighting shorts but the women ‘have to’ (those were my words) come in wearing tiny little bikinis or flirty outfits, they would never fight in?”

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The answer?  “Because they want to.  The fighters pick their weigh-in outfits.”




We’re so incensed about the way things “should be” that perhaps we’re over-the-top sensitive to how people are being portrayed.


I believe 100%!!!!!  that we should all strive to feel comfortable and confident in our bodies – no matter how tall, short, fat, thin, muscular, or anything else we are.  I agree that society has portrayed the female body to be little more than a sexual icon and we have a LONG way to go before our little boys and girls are on equal footing.


Yet (and, again, remember that I personally asked that same question not too long ago – so I’m not, at all, pointing fingers) here’s my question.


Who gets to decide how any of us should dress?

How we should pose…

Whether it’s “okay” to wear make-up in the gym or not…

How we “should” put ourselves out there…


I have a friend who has taken pictures of herself wearing nothing but paint.  They are some of the most magnificent, powerful photos I have ever seen of the female body.  On the other end of the spectrum, I had a woman say to me, personally, not too long ago, “Wow!  Did you see that lady pumping gas?  Her dress is a little short for her age, don’t you think?  She shouldn’t be wearing that.”   Excuse me?


Clearly – not okay!  Most people would agree with me, there.


But we take a very strong, beautiful, professional female athlete and feel justified in dressing her the way we think she should dress?


Is there a difference here?

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