At the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships, German gymnast Sarah Voss made a bold statement by wearing a full-body suit, breaking away from the usual convention where women and girls covered their legs only for religious reasons. Voss, along with teammates Kim Bui and Elisabeth Seitz, chose to wear these suits to protest against the sexualization of gymnastics and to address concerns about sexual abuse within the sport.
The German federation (DTB) emphasized the importance of this stand, hoping that it would encourage others who felt uncomfortable in traditional gymnastics outfits to follow suit. Voss expressed the desire for all female gymnasts to feel comfortable in their own skin, particularly as they transition from childhood to adolescence, a period when the standard attire becomes less comfortable.
Under the rules of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), gymnasts are allowed to wear “one-piece leotards with full-length legs – hip to ankle” as long as they are elegantly designed. Voss explained that these full-body suits provide a sense of security and prevent distractions during performances, as traditional leotards can sometimes shift and reveal more than intended.
The message behind this move is to ensure that female athletes in gymnastics feel at ease with their clothing choices in both training and competition. By wearing full-body suits, the gymnasts remove one more worry from their list, allowing them to focus solely on their performance. Voss hopes that their example will inspire others to make choices that make them feel safe and comfortable in the sport they love.
British-Jamaican gymnast Danusia Francis praised this initiative, stating that it empowers athletes by giving them the choice to wear what makes them feel confident and comfortable. Dutch Gymnastics also supported the move, highlighting that judges had sometimes deducted points when gymnasts tried to adjust their leotards for comfort during their routines.
Re-reported from the article originally published in Upworthy