Women’s Beach Volleyball Uniform – the Controversy

beach volleyball uniform controversy

Beach volleyball uniform controversy

Beach volleyball has only been an Olympic sport since 1996 however the women’s uniform has caused a huge amount of controversy and sparked great debate.

Mandatory bikinis – the combination of those 2 words would fill a lot of us with dread. I mean it’s hard enough to sometimes have the courage to lie in a small bikini, never mind run around in one. Women’s beach volleyball uniform regulations have previously enforced a two piece as uniform, however tops and a one piece are allowed in cold weather.

Should women be made to wear beach volleyball bikinis?

Yes bikinis are the best uniform for beach volleyballers to play their best

Ask many professional beach volleyball players and they will tell you that bikinis are comfortable to play in. Wearing shorts can weigh them down and, as well all know, sand gets everywhere including pockets which is why shorts haven’t been popular.

Obviously they are not going to play in a tiny string bikini that could malfunction at any moment, but they wear specially designed competitive swimwear. Some have even collaborated with their sponsors to create the ultimate 2 piece training bikini made from specialist material.

I’ll be honest, when watching the Olympics I did think ‘she’s got a great body’ more often than ‘that was a great spike.’ However, these women aren’t wearing bikinis in order to attract feedback on their physique. They simply want to play their best at the sport they love and if that means wearing a brazilian bikini then so be it.


No – it’s not exploitation of women

It is known as the sexiest sport in the Olympics and often gains a lot of coverage and excitement. There are always photos of women from behind because their skimpy bikinis leave little to the imagination. However, does this take away from the game?

The International League for Women’s Rights believe that in enforcing the bikini they are encouraging people to view women’s bodies as sex symbols and making them look like objects. Many people (mainly men) will watch this sport just because of the women in bikinis, which is allowing men to objectify women and reiterate the inequality between the sexes.

The men’s volleyball uniform guidelines are different to the women’s in that they are able to wear shorts and a tank top. How would the men feel if the rules enforced that they couldn’t wear tops? Somehow I can’t see it happening.


2012 – The New Beach Volleyball Uniform Rule

In 2012 however, a new uniform rule came in as to respect other countries and cultures wishing to participate or watch. The rules changed to say that players could wear shorts and a sleeved top. However I didn’t see many (if any at all) women in the London Olympics wearing either of these, which goes to show that they are wearing them because it’s the best fit for them and the sport.

It seems women’s volleyball comes with the hot bikini territory now because other sports do not attract as much attention on their outfits. For example, there has never been uproar with men wearing speedos for diving. Ultimately this is a sport typically played in hot weather and they need to be able to move around.

Without the bikinis they might not raise as much awareness or money for the sport so is it in fact them who are manipulating the viewer?

If you like this topic, you might also want check this out: Beach Volleyball and sports bikinis – benefits beyond the beach

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