The American sprinter Lolo Jones complained on "Today" about a New York Times column that criticized her for marketing her sex appeal while failing to note her athletic achievements, raising the question of whether viewers are too focused on female athletes’ looks, writes Bill Carter in The New York Times’ Media Decoder.
"Ms. Jones was among a number of female athletes whose appearance became a topic of discussion during these Games," Carter writes. "After her gold-medal-winning performance last week, the gymnast Gabby Douglas was written about in blogs and in online media not because of her floor routine, but in reaction to Twitter messages — that appeared to come largely from black women and men — which had labeled her hair unsuitably unkempt."
A Fox News commentator criticized the gymnast for not being patriotic enough because she wore a pink leotard instead of American-themed colors.
Other female athletes were also dinged for their looks, including weightlifter Holley Mangold, with one online commentator saying, "She’s a beast!" Responding to the criticism, Mangold said, "I’m not saying everyone is an athlete but I am saying an athlete can come in any size.”
Some believe the sniping may have affected Douglas, with the gymnast saying she had read about herself online and hadn’t slept well. After winning the gold medal in the gymnastics all-around competition, she failed to win a medal in any individual events, the story notes.