Friday, June 15, 2007

"There is way too much emphasis on how we look. Focus on my game"

That is the title of an interview in The Independent with former top five player Daniela Hantuchova, one of the WTA's most intelligent and articulate stars. Hantuchova's shining career went into a serious slide in 2003 when she became very emotional and lost a significant amount of weight. Naturally, rumors of anorexia nervosa flew about everywhere, and Hantuchova would not speak with the press about her condition. Later, she explained that her parents had split up and her world had come undone, but she hadn't talked about it because she didn't want to violate her family's privacy. To this day, people think she had an eating disorder, though there is no reason whatsoever to think that Hantuchova was not--and is not--telling the truth about her weight loss.

So she, of all tennis players, knows what it is like to have her body judged at every turn by sportswriters, fans and the entertainment media. Brian Viner points out, in the interview, that Hantuchova does have a penchant for fashion, and is often seen in eye-catching outfits in various venues. Might she not be trying to have her cake and eat it, too? he asks.

This is a fair question because Hantuchova has appeared in numerous fashion shoots, sometimes for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, and sometimes for magazines. Her response:

But why shouldn't I wear nice things? I know what you mean and I guess I can't have it both ways. But it's not just me. Jennifer worked so hard in the gym yet there was still so much pressure on her, saying she was heavy. Serena gets it too. It's really not fair.

Hantuchova is right in that she should be permitted to wear any clothing she wants to. There is a difference, however, between wearing fashionable clothing and appearing in fashion shoots. One indicates personal preference, the other is a public invitation to look at her body. I am not arguing that WTA players should not do fashion shoots: This is a complex issue, and we know that if Hantuchova were to never do another shoot, sportswriters and certain fans would continue to talk about whether she is too thin, not thin enough, how long her legs are, and things that I cannot print in this blog.

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