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One of the most pressing issues of the Olympics thus far has been the cosmetic choices of female Olympians. Earlier this week, NBC did some serious investigative reporting on the mystery of how the nail polish many of the swimmers were wearing was not chipped. Very important issue! Definitely something the people need to know!


Fans not only cheered on Stanford University’s Katie Ledecky for her swimming miracles this week, but some were also in awe of her nails. Ledecky clapped her gleaming red-and-blue nail polish to her smiling face after she won her second gold medal Tuesday night, a sight that made many question aloud: How did she keep her nails from chipping? Jamberry nail wraps, maybe? Stickers? Shellac?

Sadly, the article "investigating" this phenomenon failed to come up with any answers. Were they using voodoo or something to keep their nail polish on? Or cupping? Maybe a side effect of that cupping stuff is that your nail polish stays on longer? Oh, or it could be that they used a good base coat and a good top coat? Or because they got no-chip gel manicures? But that would be far too simple, and then you wouldn't have a stupid article about the magical and mysterious non-chipping nail polish of Olympic athletes.

Then, there was this "Should Female Olympians Wear Makeup?" segment on Fox's "Sports Court," featuring former New York city detective Bo Dietl and conservative radio host Mark Simone. It was certainly interesting, especially for those of us who have always wondered what Bo Dietl thought about what we should be doing with our faces. Which, we think, is probably no one.

Tamara Holder, the show's host (who, full disclosure, is a friend), opened up the segment:

We all know the old adage 'sex sells.' Well now, female Olympians are sexing it up more than ever by wearing makeup during their competitions. Some say this is about empowerment. Well, really? Do women who are elite athletes need to wear makeup to feel stronger, or is it simply a fashion statement?

The segment intended to address a recent USA Today article, "The empowering reasons why female athletes are wearing makeup during the Olympics," which, despite the eyeroll of a headline, was sort of nice and cool and had a neat story about runner Shannon Rowbury wearing red or pink lipstick as an homage to her Nonnie. Most of the women interviewed wore makeup for the same reason we wear makeup, and we are basically a Professional Feminist. They like it and think it's a fun way to express themselves. As far as we're concerned, this should be the end-all and be-all reason to wear makeup. And it's all good, so long as we also work toward making sure there isn't a mandate to wear makeup and that women who choose not to are allowed to embrace their own choice.

Guest Mark Simone, an avid Trump supporter, was pretty sure these ladies participate in the Olympics is to get jobs as spokesmodels:

The whole point of the Olympics, the whole reason for this training, for this work to get there is product endorsements. Cosmetic companies are opening up a ton of revenue for product endorsements.

Really? Is that the whole point of the Olympics? Because man, if it is, these women would have been a lot better off learning how to be a model or just look like one at the Barbizon Modeling School than dedicating their entire lives to athletics in order to compete in the Olympics. Sure, sponsorships are a great way for these athletes to earn money, but that seems like a secondary goal, at best, to winning an Olympic medal. Are male athletes only into what they do for the sponsorships? We think not!

Bo Dietl, however, felt the makeup was necessary specifically because his delicate sensibilities would be traumatized by seeing a woman without makeup:

I think when you see an athlete, why should I have to look at some chick's zits? Or some guy's zits, Why not a little blush on her lips? And cover those zits! I like to see a person who wins that gold medal go up there and look beautiful.

Yes, how could Bo Dietl possibly be expected to enjoy the Olympics if the underage girls he watched doing backflips had acne? Ew! Can you even imagine? He could be scarred for life! Wearing makeup is just the considerate thing to do, which is of course why Bo Dietl walks around looking like a male supermodel all the time. He tried to qualify his statement by saying men ought to wear makeup too, because Michael Phelps shouldn't walk up there looking like a white rag either.

Holder questioned a statement from the USA Today piece from Rowbury, the runner, that she wears makeup in order to empower young girls, asking whether little girls need athletes to wear makeup in order to inspire them to wear makeup. Here is Rowbury's quote:

You can be a strong, athletic, courageous woman and you can wear lipstick. I like being able to be all those things or try to help inspire young women to be all those things. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s a form of expression, especially in track and field where my uniform is provided by my sponsor (or the USOC). I basically have my uniform and my shoes and there’s not a lot of expression that’s allowed and there aren’t many ways to show your personality. I like that lipstick is a way that won’t detract from my performance and it puts me in my happy place before I start the race.

Which is a reasonable thing to discuss! There are already a lot of women out there wearing makeup and probably not a lot of little girls wondering if they will ever be able to do so themselves. Because of course they can, EVEN little girl athletes. No one is out there saying, "Hey, athletic women! Who said you could wear makeup?" The two are not mutually exclusive, is what we are saying.

Holder pointed out that Anna Kournikova got more money in sponsorships than Serena Williams, to which Simone responded that this was because the "real" money was in cosmetic sponsorships and not Wheaties boxes, clearly not understanding where the conversation was supposed to be headed. The two men agreed it was just the way of the world that better looking people are more celebrated, and that this was not a thing that needed to change for any reason. Because, as Dietl noted, no one wants to see a woman accepting a gold medal looking like a "washed up dishrag." This is a man, clearly, who hates a dishrag.

While it seems unnecessary to talk more about the way female Olympic athletes look than about their abilities and talents, there is absolutely a conversation to be had about blonde, white athletes getting more money in sponsorships than women of color do. There's a conversation to be had about how many of these athletes may feel pressured to present themselves a certain way in order to secure sponsorships, when it sure would be nice if they were being celebrated for their athletic abilities rather than their appearances, since you'd assume that would be the whole point of getting an Olympic athlete to promote your brand anyway. Especially given that this is not a thing male athletes have to concern them with. In no way, however, were Mark Simone and Bo Dietl qualified to be having this conversation, and they should probably not ever speak of it again.

To be fair, they were already booked to do the show, and speak on a different topic altogether, and the topic was changed a few hours before the show was set to air. Still, we are pretty sure we can go the rest of our lives without Bo Dietl ever again airing his opinions on what people should look like.

If you are interested ladies, shockingly, they are both single.

[Sports Court]

Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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