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Sexist dress codes in sport need to stop

The Ladies Professional Golf Association is introducing a stricter dress code and it includes no "plunging necklines" or "bottom areas"

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By Frankie Graddon on

I can’t say I know a lot about golf. I know it revolves around hitting a little white ball into a little green hole. I know it has something called a “birdie” and a “par”. I know those carts look pretty fun and I know that it’s the US presidents’ sport of choice (apparently since 1909, only three presidents have not played). But as of this morning, I know a little more about golf. I know that, thanks to new rules being enforced by the Ladies Professional Golf Association, the sport possesses archaic and downright sexist dress codes.

Over the weekend, it was reported that the LPGA is introducing a new, stricter dress code for female golfers on tour. An email sent by Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, LPGA player president, states that as of July 17 the following pieces of clothing will not be allowed either on the golf course or at parties:

  • Plunging necklines
  • Leggings
  • Joggers
  • Racer-backs
  • Short skirts – the email states that “length of skirt, skort and shorts MUST be long enough to not see your bottom area (even if covered by under shorts) at any time, standing or bent over".

The email also includes the instruction that “appropriate attire should be worn to pro-am parties. You should be dressing yourself to present a professional image… Dressy jeans are allowed, but cut-offs or jeans with holes are NOT allowed".

According to Teen Vogue, players who flout the new guidelines will be fined $1,000, and will be made to pay double the amount for subsequent penalties.

The implications of the new rules are clear: female flesh = unprofessional

Talking to Golf Digest, Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA tour's chief communications and tour operations officer, said the aim of the stricter dress code was for players “to present themselves in a professional manner to reflect a positive image for the game".

Now, I don’t know about you but, to me, this doesn’t exactly reflect a “positive image” for the game. In fact, I think it does quite the opposite. As already stated, I am not well-versed in the world of golf, but to an outsider who might one day wish to swing a club around the driving range (apparently that’s a thing), it sounds a lot like the world of golf is stuck in the Dark Ages and not something I would ever wish to be part of.

The implications of the new rules are clear: female flesh = unprofessional. Boobs, bums, shoulders and legs are obviously far too distracting/distasteful/controversial/whatever to belong within the uptight confines of the golf course. As for the leggings and joggers, I am at a loss – are these not sportswear and is this not a sport?

The LPGA’s ruling comes weeks after speculation that Venus Williams was made to change her bra during a match at Wimbledon due to the colour being in breach of the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s dress code. The code requires players to wear an all-white outfit including “any undergarments that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration)”.

Yes, that’s right, the seven-time Grand Slam, Olympic gold-medal-winning tennis player had to change her bra because it was pink.

Really? I mean, really? While I appreciate that uniforms and dress codes can play an important unifying, identifying and, yes, professional role in both life and sport, I think we can all appreciate that outdated, sexist rules play nothing but a damaging one. And in a world where we need to get more women into sport, not fewer, they need to stop. 

@FrankieGrad

Photo: Getty
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dress code
sport
women in sport

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