For Olympic Women, the Pressure to Look Perfect Lingers

The Pressure to Look Perfect for Women on the World Stage


At the Olympic beach volleyball venue at Horse Guards Parade, two American champions — Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor — were gearing up to win their third consecutive gold medal. Outside the stadium, a group of middle-aged bankers were waiting to watch them do it. They didn’t know any of the competitors’ names, and they had been fans of the sport for “about an hour,” they said.

So why were they there? “When I found out there was a women’s event that involved girls in bikinis, I thought, that’s what my friends would like to see,” said Simon, who procured the tickets for the group.

London 2012’s Olympic beach volleyball tournament — with its barely-there uniforms and resident shimmying dance troupe — hasn’t necessarily brought out the best in spectators. But despite all the ogling, experts say the Games in general send an overwhelmingly positive message: elite women come in…

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