On the fiftieth anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death, Jeré Longman of The New York Times penned an article essentially decrying an Olympic athlete for doing virtually the same thing: using her sex appeal to get noticed.
Actresses often use their feminine wiles to get over the hurdles of anonymity, but it’s their talent that keeps them in the race — so what’s wrong with an athlete also using her allure to get seen? A sportswoman’s come-hitherness can’t propel her over literal hurdles, after all.
The journalist, calling Jones, an “exotic beauty,” goes on to ridicule the hurdler for using her sex to promote herself via a “sad and cynical marketing campaign.” Longman also reports that the current Olympic champion Dawn Harper chafes that although she’s the one with the medal, it’s Jones’s mettle that always steals the show. Harper, clearly embittered, says she’s thrilled to be competing in London now and that “you can talk about that [Jones] but you’ve got to mention my name.” Being overlooked rather than looked-over is something that troubles Harper so much that she admits being resigned to resolve “the matter through prayer.”
And it seems everyone had to get their digs in at the Iowan Olympian. Even Janice Forsyth, the director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario stated: “Limited opportunities are there for women to gain a foothold unless they sell themselves as sex kittens or virgins for sale.” Ambition, in any form, gets you the foothold; skill and talent get you to the finish line.
Never mind that Jones is a bundle of contradictions, making her any bully’s wet dream: a self-proclaimed thirty-year-old virgin, a scantily clad wear-it-on-her-cuff Christian who emits an aura of post child-pageantry pep, and a shameless Tim Tebow acolyte — she is also considered, by many people: a sex symbol. And whether we, at Glittersnipe, fully comprehend her aesthetic appeal is neither hither nor yon: she is apparently many blokes’ piping cups of tea. And here’s another sweet lump for those cups: in 2010 Jones, competing in Qatar, finished 7.72, which made her the fifth fastest female hurdler in history.
When Jones’s fellow competitors lament being in the shadow of her limelight, they should reread all the ink that was spilled about Tiger Woods: While winners slipped on their coveted green jackets after winning the Masters Tournaments, papers still managed to keep Woods in the headlines. Media darlings are squeaky wheels and those darlings grease the presses that sell the papers; that’s simply business. And for the record, Longman’s paean to bitchery in “the paper of record” was the only one that we finished reading in the entire sports section on Sunday. Why? Because the piece focused on our culture’s favorite sport: blood-letting.
So what’s wrong with a woman using her visual appeal to get ahead? By today’s standards Jones’s sensuality is little more than milquetoast branding, though reading Longman’s article, one would assume the woman was a slithering harlot. Longman’s description of Jones on the cover of OutSide magazine states she wore a “bathing suit made of nothing but strategically placed ribbon.” Had we not searched for the image ourselves, we’d have taken reporter at his word rather than taking him to task for his hyperbolic sartorial commentary.
Jones has been open, and loquacious, about her impoverished childhood growing up on food stamps and having to take refuge in a Salvation Army basement with her family for a brief time: So, why wouldn’t she use all the arrows in her quiver to survive? Solo professional athletes rely on sponsorships in order to continue their sport, and those who grew up poor may scamper more patently, or even more desperately, for attention. That’s called cunning. That’s called survival.
This writer was previously unaware of Lolo Jones until just last week and though, admittedly, I’m not a fan of her posings, the article in The New York Times will have me cheering her on in upcoming races — and conversely, running far away from any more of Jeré Longman’s spiteful Post-like prose in the future.