Kerri Walsh Jennings Responds to Sideboob Shaming

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Kerri Walsh Jennings has three gold medals and is well on her way to winning a fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympics. With her new partner, April Ross, the pair have dominated beach volleyball in Brazil so far, bumping, setting and spiking their way to multiple victories. Yet despite their dominance on the sand, some viewers still seem distracted by the athletes’ uniforms.

“Why has NBC decided that beach volleyball is fascinating? I’ve seen enough of Kerri Walsh’s side boob. Scantily clad = big ratings? Please,” James Carroll tweeted. While the user has since removed his comment, this wasn’t before Walsh Jennings spotted it herself and responded.

Defenders on social media were quick to point out that not only has Walsh Jennings been playing in long sleeves during her nighttime matches when the temperatures have been low, but that there is also inherent sexism in critiquing her body and uniform.

The 38-year-old has faced judgments like this for years. As she recently told Yahoo Sports, she believes that the commentary surrounding the two-piece outfit is just the media having fun. “I think it’s people who don’t really understand our sport who are like, ‘Why are they wearing that it’s degrading?’ And to me, it’s so the opposite of degrading, it’s empowering,” she said. “My bikini with Asics is very sports-performance minded. I do not want to be sexy, I want to kick butt and so that’s what I’m thinking and that’s what my partners are thinking when we create these bikinis.”

Wearing a bikini is also a personal choice. Recently the International Olympic Committee changed the rules to include shorts and tank tops as part of the required attire. “I love that,” the mom of three said. “I don’t want anyone to not play because they don’t want to wear the uniform.” She also said: “I have no problem with [the bikini]. Again for me, it’s all about performing at my best and a bikini allows me to do that when I’m in Rio in 100-degree weather with 100 percent humidity. I do not want to be wearing shorts and a tank top.”

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