Wimbledon 2022: White clothing dictum in sport needs to be reconsidered during period days

He had been uncomfortable when the boys at his academy didn’t know why Aditi Mutatkar came to badminton practice, wearing dark shorts a few days a month. And doubly embarrassing when they finally found out why. Because they laughed. And he irritated his already jittery nerves.

The former international ferryboat recalls that feeling of annoyance and thinks back to the times when she wanted to respond and say, “Chup baitho, period pe hoo (shut up, I’m on my period),” hoping those five words will one day be normalized. in a sports environment and prevent scars for life.

As Wimbledon wakes from its long sleep of pristine white with countless voices raising questions about SW 19’s pedantic all-white dress rule, unforgiving even to players on its period, the sport faces serious adjustment. dress beads from their ancient traditions. China’s Quinwen Zhang started the discussion by talking about how menstrual cramps affected her in her loss to Iga Swiatek at the French Open. During a summer of discontent, heading for the Whites Slam curiously disguised as ‘tradition’, tennis announcer Catherine Whitaker has been quoted in The Telegraph as asking “if a tradition that affected men in the same way as women they go to their most important day on a period, forced to wear white, it would last”.

China’s Quinwen Zhang kicked off the discussion by talking about how menstrual cramps affected her in her loss to Iga Swiatek at the French Open.

Whitaker also raised flags about policing the length of women’s bathroom breaks, while Rio Olympic champion Monica Puig was quoted in the same post as speaking of the “mental stress” of wearing white at Wimbledon. and having previously prayed that she would not have her period at that time. weather. British hopeful Heather Watson told The Sunday Times that she’s had to walk off the pitch once in the past, as she worried: “Oh my God. I hope you can’t see that in any pictures,” while Australia’s Rennae Stubbs spoke of how it was something the players talked about in the locker room, as she hoped extra-large tampons and extra padding would do the job.

Visions in white, sliding for an exquisite serve and volley on idyllic green grass, Wimbledon might as well be. But the uniform can be a ‘white mare’ for women. Canadian Rebecca Marino, preparing for her first Wimbledon appearance, was quoted by The Sunday Times as saying: “Everyone’s worst fear is that you’ll get your period at Wimbledon and not know it’s coming. It shouldn’t be embarrassing, but white does it that way.” Mutatkar says that even training days used to be something that young women wanted to get through.

lack of understanding

While badminton dropped the white shorts rule in his mid-teens, Mutatkar remembers his first instance of following dictation. “This must be U10 and we would dutifully follow the coach’s instructions to show up in crisp, pressed white jerseys and shorts even in training to establish discipline. Then, at one point, the coaches pulled the girls aside, asked the boys to leave, and told us that on “those days” they can wear colored shorts because they can get stained and embarrassing. Nothing was explained to the children, so when the “rules” were broken, they whispered to each other and demanded to know why we were allowed to come in colored shorts. It became embarrassing and a strange space “unn dinon mein (in those days)”. Then they realized something was wrong for four days, and then he turned white again and started laughing. I wish this was openly addressed and the giggling had stopped,” says Mutatkar.

The Wimbledon rules, ironically, came about according to The Sunday Times article, to minimize sweat stains on colored clothing in the 19th century. “Look, nobody wants to stain. But the blood will come. And as it is, sweat and blood are disgusting when you play sports, without having to additionally wear white,” says Mutatkar.

According to The Telegraph’s Women’s Sports, Russia’s Tatiana Golovin faced a barrage of downright idiotic headlines like “Cheeky Golovin refuses to take off red knickers” when she appeared in colored underpants, to which organizers responded in 2014 by clamping down. against colored underwear.

“It is something that is always on the mind. No one has spoken out because women have just dealt with it,” ST quoted her. The Whites have been seen as elegant and clinging to tradition, and the All England Club, which is otherwise committed to “putting women’s health first and giving them everything they need” (by installing sanitary dispensers in changing rooms) Surprisingly, it has not been quick to offer leniency in cases of women having their periods.

Mutatkar wonders how many women are really part of the decision-making about wearing uniforms in all sports. “Because men won’t even begin to understand what this issue is about or have that perspective. Tradition is fine, but if 50 percent of your players don’t feel comfortable, you should listen to them. Wimbledon and all these federations are what they are because of the players, and they should exist around the athletes and their performance. Tradition is not green grass and white clothes. They are the players,” she says.

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Cricket has its own problems

Julia Price, 50, a former Australian cricket international and current USA coach, told The Indian Express that cricket poses challenges of its own, such as long batting hours in Test matches, and that women need Longer “drinking breaks” to run to the bathroom and check if everything is okay. it was good. “Sure, in our day, we just dealt with it, although white people weren’t always comfortable. And even when we wore yellow, it would be an absolute concern, so we made sure to wear extra protection with extra layers,” she says.

Women’s cricket inherited all-white men’s cricket, but the sport is at a further dead end because the red/pink ball demands lighter clothing for visibility, and like Wimbledon and its lovely traditions, much is aspired to the ‘whites’ of test matches. Price is blunt when she says that female cricketers are relieved that they are not expected to play in white culottes as in the 1970s, “they were a bit more exposed than long pants”, and female cricketers routinely wear ” skins” under long pants with fast-advancing sports technology. to accommodate those needs.

Cricket faced another ‘see-through whites’ problem in earlier times, which was solved with denser fabrics, and a couple of other reasons why there isn’t much of a fuss in the sport. “Australia’s heat and sun can be uncomfortable, so white made practical sense. But we can continue to improve and talk to the players if they want a change. Of course, women are still struggling to play more Test cricket to begin with,” he trails off, hinting at more existential issues.

Price calls Wimbledon’s tradition of wearing all white fantastic, but recalls the resistance Martina Navratilova faced in wanting to wear shorts instead of skirts, and says professional teams will always put athletes’ performance and comfort first, bypassing taboo conversations.

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