Being a woman and an athlete may not be so simple. This is not because of the supposed fragility that some say, but because they are seen as muses or objects for men and not as athletes seeking medals and recognition for the work accomplished. This is what happened to diver Ingrid Oliveira, as well as other athletes in other sports. And this is not something exclusive to Brazilians. Abroad, they also suffer from this machismo. This is what Canadian photographer Philip Whitcombe said about his daughter-in-law, volleyball player Melissa Humana-Paredes.
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In his text for the Canadian site CBC, Whitcombe says he is lucky to have seen his daughter-in-law Melissa play up close and finish 4th in beach volleyball at the Pan American Championships. He was to photograph every such game at the event. But something bothers him: the way some sexist fans treat, look at and talk about female players.
Philip regrets that the physical fitness of the players comes to the fore, ignoring the months of work to get there. He says that one day of the event, a security guard at the place where the beach volleyball courts are located showed him a photo on his cell phone that his friend had sent him. And the image showed her daughter-in-law Melissa with her back turned and bent over while waiting to receive her opponent’s serve. But that had nothing to do with her skill as a player, it had another connotation. The guy, as a joke, said to his friend “you know, she’s someone’s daughter”.
This only made Philip angrier about the whole situation and he wrote on the CBC: “I know there are people who only see one thing: people in bikinis. What I see when I take photos of Melissa is a wonderful, bright, talented, determined and beautiful athlete who is one of the best players in the world. What I also see when I kneel on the field to photograph these athletes are their beautiful bodies, perfected through year-round exercise to be able to jump higher, move faster and push harder and Longer. I know the formative years, the distant tournaments, the loneliness of having to be away from home and missing family events or friends’ weddings. I know that, like Melissa, many of these athletes miss their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends, pets while they chase their dreams.s”.
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