2012 Olympics: Uniform Controversy

I am amazed at all the uniform controversy that haas happened this Olympic preseason. First, we had the swimsuit challenge. This was solved by banning full-length suits and allowing swimmers to wear suits that did not go past their knees or past their elbows.

Then we had the Beach Volleyball situation. The FIVB (International Beach Volleyball federation) approved a more covered-up uniform for female beach volleyball players. Since the sport debuted in 1996 Olympics, women have worn bikinis. Many countries, including the US, will continue to wear the traditional uniform in the 2012 Olympics. The uniform change has been made in an effort to cooperate with more countries who compete at the Olympics. There are many countries whose cultural beliefs or religious values prohibit the wearing of skimpy swimsuits. The Great Britain Beach Volleyball team took this issue to the streets. What is deemed unsuitable for the public places may be unsuitable for the Olympics. I always wondered why the girls wore such outfits. However, Brian Schrager brings up a good point once you get past the condescending opening paragraph: the swimsuits have been specially designed. Even Walsh stated in an interview, “I’ve played in a bikini for a very specific reason and it’s that it’s most comfortable. I’ve worked really hard with Oakley to get a really good suit that I’m not worried about wardrobe malfunctions, and it’s really sporty.” But if you read from a female perspective, Ellie Krupnick points out the sexy view of the suits and the lack of place they have in the Olympics .

The traditional beach volleyball uniform left many countries out

I wonder if the change will eventually overtake the traditional. Like the swimsuits did, you don’t often see someone wearing the “traditional” swimsuit in competition anymore. Perhaps one day, the tiny suits will go back to the beach and not stay in world competition.

The newest controversy is happening here in the states; I am not sure if other countries are having to deal with this. Maybe not. Probably not. Many people are upset that the US uniforms (and who would wear the opening ceremony outfit anyway!) were made in China. I sort of get that argument: this is a time for each country to show off their stuff and their very best. Well, apparently our very best clothes come from outside the United States. The rowing team, which I was originally going to write about, blasted their webpage about how their uniforms are made in Philly“¦home grown! Too funny. Not really. I guess it just shows what petty arguments can arise when it comes to the world stage. I do like the row team suits. And I do appreciate one beach volleyball player’s comment on this:

“It’s a global world we live in,” Olympic beach volleyball player Todd Rogers, a 2008 gold medalist, told USA TODAY Sports. “I would say there are much bigger issues to worry about than where Ralph Lauren has the opening ceremonies clothes made.”

But have you seen the opening ceremonies uniforms? Greg Cote from the Miami Herald said, “The preppy white slacks and double-breasted dark blue blazers will make every American athlete look like a spoiled rich kid named Thad stepping on to his family’s yacht.” Couldn’t we have gone with something classic and clean like the flowing white slack and striped top? I know it has been done before but come on, it works! Maybe it is just the beret. Our uniforms look very similar to Australia’s.

Australia’s 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony uniforms
The US Opening Ceremony uniforms by Ralph Loren
Like anything in life, even the Olympics is not free of controversy, arguments, and people deciding what is best for you. But I love the games and am excited for them to start next week on July 28th!

By Trulybst

Pursuing life to its fullest. A woman, a mom, wife, and struggling teacher who knows the importance of treating myself right.

17 replies on “2012 Olympics: Uniform Controversy”

I have a soft spot for Ralph Lauren and, while certainly preppy, those uniforms are classic RL. They look classy and well tailored for buff bodies, in my opinion.

Those bikinis have never made sense to me. That’s a very physical sport with lots of reaching out arms and legs, lots of jumping, and lots of leaping into rough sand. I never understood why they wore such skimpy outfits. My main concern would be that I’d accidentally show off my hooha the first time I had to split my legs. I worry about that when I’m walking down the beach.

I agree about RL . . . those outfits are timeless and classic RL!  Beautifully tailored, clean lines, beautiful fabrics.

With regards to the beach volleyball bikinis . . . I think Kerry Walsh said it best when she said that she had worked with Oakley to design to best functioning and most comfortable suit for their playing conditions.  My son is also a volleyball player and I have attended many a sand tournament.  (I’ve even played a little).  It gets freakin hot on the sand courts . . . the more material you have on the more hot and uncomfortable it is.  Having watched hundred of hours of beach volleyball for over a decade, I have never seen a “wardrobe malfunction” because those suits were designed for that level of physical activity . . .this isn’t the same bikini that you would wear on the beach.  And as for the sand . . .it gets all over and everywhere. . . wearing a one piece suit doesn’t solve that problem.  It would look really awkward trying to clear sand out from your stomach area when you are wearing a one piece.  So GO FOR IT VOLLEYBALL GIRLS . . . you wear that bikini proud!

With all that being said . . . I think if there are other players from other countries that wish to wear something more modest than that should be their choice too!

Can’t wait for the Olympics . . . GO TEAM USA!

My favorite bit of the controversy is the Mitt Romney angle. He keeps talking about how we have to get tough on China, but was noticeably silent about the uniforms. Turns out that when he was on the Olympic committee for the Salt Lake City games in 2002, he had the torchbearer uniforms made in Burma. Military dictatorship, human rights violating, BURMA. And then tried to defend themselves by saying that they weren’t made in Burma, they were made in Myanmar. Same place, dudes.


To be fair to Gov Romney, his issue with China is around currency manipulation not manufacturing uniforms. No one is asking Pres Obama about where he stands on Olympic uniforms and it makes perfect sense that Gov Romney not focus on this non-issue as well.

Gov Romney was the Pres and CEO of the 2002 Olympics and did an incredible job of turning that event around  in addition to responding to new security needs brought on by Sept 11th with less than six months to plan and execute this new plan.   The US Olympic team gear was some of the most popular ever, were  designed by the Canadian Company ROOTS and manufactured in Canada.   While the Torch Track Suits were manufactured in Burma/(Myanmar), they were manufactured in the exact same facility that manufactures GAP and NORTHFACE gear.  Any of you own any clothes from there?

We exist now and have for well over a decade in a very global economy.  “Outsourcing” manufacturing is a phenomena that has been taking place for over 50 years.  In the 50s and 60s, 1 in 3 jobs in America were considered manufacturing jobs.  By the late 70s, it was down to 1 in 5 and now we are at about 1 in 10 jobs classified as manufacturing.  This is not an activity that was invented by Gov Romney at Bain Capital.

This “Outsourcing Faux Rage” is Pres Obama’s campaign strategy to try to paint Gov Romney’s past business successes as failures.  I doubt much that it will work because there are even more examples of current “outsourcing” that then looks bad for Pres Obama.


Gap and NorthFace both strenuously denied having any factories in Burma/Myanmar, so I’m guessing that was a mistake on the part of the PR firm (which is plausible, given that they didn’t seem to know that Burma and Myanmar were the same place). And since I never buy new clothing or throw out old stuff, I was able to dig around in my dresser and find several Gap t-shirts that were made around that time. I had stuff made in Guatemala, Bangladesh, Singapore, and Cambodia.

Given that Romney is stressing his leadership skills regarding the 2002 Olympics and that his wife’s horse is going to be ridden in the Olympics by someone wearing these uniforms, it makes sense that people would ask him his thoughts on this story and be curious as to why he would change the subject. Obama’s spokesman was asked about it as well and he said that while the president would love to see our athletes wear uniforms made in the US, it’s not a government decision; they’re privately funded.

Guatamala has the 3rd highest murder rate in the world . .. higher than Mexico.   Singapore is ground zero for sex trafficking young girls.  Bangladesh is plagued by population, pollution and political corruption issues. And Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world where children receive only about 5 years of education on average.  But I wouldn’t assume that because you own those clothes that you are supporting those problems.  Which is kind of how you treated Gov Romney.    I would like to think that having jobs in those countries could be part of the solution to those problems.

The U.S. has the 7th highest number of deaths by gun violence, which is also far above Mexico at #17. Should I stop buying clothing made here too? Pretty much every country is fucked up in some way, obviously some more than others. Yes, people in other countries need jobs too, but there’s a difference between low wages and slave labor, which is essentially what workers in Burma/Myanmar faced at the time.

Hilary, you just illustrated my point brilliantly which was pick any country and you can discuss the problems there.  I stated that I don’t think you are in favor of those problems by purchasing clothes made there.  And Gov Romney isn’t supporting military dictatorships because uniforms were outsourced.

What may be slave wages here can be a significant improvement in the standard of living elsewhere which contributes to the improvement of those societies which has always been one of the drivers of outsourcing.

You were the person who tried to make the outsourcing uniforms issue a negative reflection of Gov Romney.  “My favorite bit of the controversy is the Mitt Romney angle.”  I was merely trying to “be fair to Gov Romney”.

But there’s a fundamental difference between being a consumer who doesn’t have the time, money, and energy to research every single t-shirt purchase and being the person who decides where to make the clothing in the first place. If you’re in charge of manufacturing uniforms for athletes representing the United States or torchbearers representing the entire Olympic games that you’re hosting, you have to be held to a higher standard when making those decisions. Sure, I can shop elsewhere, but even American companies aren’t always without controversy. He could have had the uniforms made anywhere in the world, but decided to go with a brutal military regime that had been roundly condemned by human rights groups. I can’t support that kind of action, because it speaks to his character.

During the 2002 Olympics, outsourcing was NOT in any way shape or form the current political outrage or even FAUX RAGE of the time.  That is an issue, as I stated before has just come up this summer to create a distraction from the economy.

While Romney was in charge of the Olympics, he took over with 2 years to go before and the ink on the uniform contracting had long been dry and probably also not a decision made at the highest levels.  But whoever made the decision was signing contracts with a manufacturer, not the government of the  countries where the manufacturing takes place.  So in it incorrect to  say that Romney “contracted” with a brutal regime.  Just as the Olympic committee contracted with Ralph Lauren, it was up to Ralph Lauren to figure out and source the manufacturing of those uniforms.  As Ralph Lauren said this week,  it is too late make the changes and it wasn’t even an issue on his radar as most people assume that clothes are manufactured outside the United States.   Human Rights groups roundly condemn just about every  place where clothes are manufactured.  If that is your utmost priority, then even as a consumer, you should feel compelled to read each label vote with your individual dollars.  My point was that Gov Romney had no more evil intent as the CEO of the Olympics as you do as a consumer.   I just think it is a fallacy in your logic, made my points . .. you ultimately get to choose who you support and respect.

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