Sandi Morris, who’s an American pole vaulter and a world championship and Olympic medallist, was featured on a billboard promoting an indoor meet in Germany last month. The photo used to promote the meet went viral because many people took issue with the advertisement. The meet used a photo that showed the pole vaulter from behind, which some considered sexist. 

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Sexismus Vorwurf? Stimmt das – Sportstadt Düsseldorf? Diese Plakate, die für eine Leichtathletik Veranstaltung werben, sollen ausgetauscht werden. 🙄🙈Statt der amerikanischen Stabhochspringerin und amtierenden Hallenweltmeisterin Sandi Morris wird dann der Kugelstoßer Tomáš Stanek gezeigt. Wie seht ihr das? Ist der Vorwurf berechtigt? Ist es sexistisch eine Sportlerin in ihrem Wettkampfoutfit zu zeigen? Was sagt ihr?? Lest die tolle und authentische Antwort der Athletin @sandicheekspv selbst unten in den Kommentaren! Thx Sandi Morris! Fantastic comment! #düsseldorf #sport #outfitoftheday #athletics #polevault #leichtathletik #Indoor #iaaf #trackandfield #sandimorris #sexismo #pic #plakat #reporter #reporterlife #sportmotivation #fotografie #photography #girlpower #frauenpower #workout

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Morris responded to the criticisms on social media in an interview with the New York Times, saying that she didn’t see this photo as sexist at all. The pole vaulter wrote on Instagram, “I am understanding of those who think this photo choice is sexist, but as the person who is in the photo, let me explain why I think it’s not. We are provided with uniform options, and I choose to wear this one because it is most comfortable. I think part of sexism lies in telling women they CANNOT show their bodies when they want to. I was not forced to wear this outfit, I feel confident in it.”

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Morris explained that she was consulted on the image and approved its use partly because the meet organizers wanted to showcase her name, which appears on the back of her uniform. According to The Times, “Even if Morris says she does not believe there was overt sexism in this case, she recognizes that the debate is important and a sign of change: a growing resistance to objectifying female athletes in a microcosm where it remains widespread.”

Female track and road runners have the same outfit choices are female pole vaulters. There several outfit combinations a runner can wear, and the runner is able to choose whichever uniform they will perform best in. When competing, athletes are interested in wearing the outfit which will provide the least distraction from their jump, vault or run. For Morris, this outfit accomplishes that. 

Morris concluded her Instagram comment with, “What I would love to see is a world where women can cover up, or reveal themselves, and men can too, without any ridicule.”

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