German Gymnasts Debut Olympic Unitards After Taking a Stand Against Sexualization in the Sport

See Team Germany's gymnasts Elisabeth Seitz, Kim Bui, Pauline Schaefer and Sarah Voss pose in their unitards ahead of the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

By Cydney Contreras Jul 23, 2021 12:11 AMTags
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Team Germany's gymnastics team is proudly representing their country in full-length unitards.

The professional athletes practiced in the new uniforms on Thursday, July 22, with Elisabeth SeitzKim BuiPauline Schaefer and Sarah Voss giving the public the first look at their fuschia and black unitards for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"We mastered our podium training well," she wrote in an Instagram post, which was translated from German. "Tomorrow we will rest, properly train the day after tomorrow and on Sunday the competition will finally get serious."

Pauline shared the same photo of the team, writing in German, "How do you like our new outfits?" while Kim captioned her post, "Nice arena, good podiumtraining, beautiful unitards, and a lot of joy."

In her own behind-the-scenes photos, Sarah, who was one of the first team members to wear unitards at competitions, posed with Brazil's gymnasts in front of the Olympic rings.

Though leotards are traditionally worn in the gymnastics world, the German Gymnastics Federation (DTB) said in April, according to the BBC, that three of their competitors chose to wear full-length uniforms in protest of the "sexualisation in gymnastics."

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As one of the athletes making the switch, Sarah told Germany's national public television broadcaster, ZDF, "We hope gymnasts uncomfortable in the usual outfits will feel emboldened to follow our example." 

"We, women, all want to feel good in our skin. In the sport of gymnastics it gets harder and harder as you grow out of your child's body," Sarah explained. "As a little girl I didn't see the tight gym outfits as such a big deal. But when puberty began, when my period came, I began feeling increasingly uncomfortable."

On April 24, Kim expressed similar sentiments on Instagram. She wrote, "I‘m very proud of us! We want to encourage all gymnasts around the world to be able to wear this if they want to feel better! It should be a gymnast‘s choice to wear what's she (or he) feels comfortable with! Long legs leotards can also look aesthetically pleasing!

Team Germany's efforts follow multiple controversies within the gymnastics world, including the conviction of doctor Larry Nassar, who was found guilty of seven counts of sexual abuse. To learn more about how the athletes overcame adversity, click here.

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