What’s Going on With the Crotches of Women’s Track Uniforms?

A Nike unitard went viral (derogatory) in early April, but I'm actually more disturbed by this Adidas design.

What’s Going on With the Crotches of Women’s Track Uniforms?
Anna Hall—who’s wearing a questionably-designed Adidas uniform—after competing in the women’s heptathlon 200 meters during the U.S. Olympic Team Track & Field Trials on June 23. Photo: Getty Images

Like Jezebel’s Editor-in-Chief, Lauren Tousignant, I love watching Track & Field: Sha’Carri Richardson (100m, 200m) is a lightning bolt; Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone (400m hurdles) is a champ; and Elle St. Pierre (5,000m) is a beast. I have been devouring the U.S. Olympic Team Trials—a very dumb way to select a team, but that’s another story for another day—which concludes on Sunday. But my biggest question as the Track Trials wrap up is not “Who will make the podium in the 200 meters?” it’s “What the hell is going on with the crotches of the women’s uniforms?”

Crotch Concerns sprung up in April after Citius Mag shared a “first look” photo of Nike’s Team USA uniforms for the Paris Olympics. (Nike has the contract for the U.S. Olympic uniforms or “kits,” and even athletes sponsored by other brands have to wear the swoosh apparel.) As you can see from the photo below, the women’s option is a unitard with what appears to be an extremely high-cut leg—like, 1980s-workout-leotard high, except there are no bike shorts or stockings underneath. One Twitter commenter wrote: “Even the mannequin’s non-vagina is eating that front thong.” Retired pro runner Lauren Fleshman wrote on Instagram that “professional athletes should be able to compete without dedicating brain space to constant pube vigilance.” Truly, could the athletes expense their bikini waxes?

Amid the fracas, some insiders said the unitard fits differently on human bodies. Nike-sponsored runner Sinclair Johnson wrote on Instagram that while the comments were funny, the leg opening fits better than that: “Lolol these comments have me 💀 but, Nike included a number of us in the kit testing process and I can assure you the bottoms don’t look like this on a real human.” If I were a multi-billion dollar company, I wouldn’t have let this misleading photo come out. And, more importantly, wouldn’t have allowed the posts to suggest that this was the only option for women when it’s not. There’s also a unitard with shorts, as well as various styles of tops and bottoms (sports bras, tanks, briefs, and shorts) that athletes can mix and match. Women can also wear the men’s kit if they want!

Fast forward to the Track Trials and, sure enough, the unitard is nowhere near that high-cut on Nike-sponsored athletes competing, though it certainly offers less coverage than briefs from other brands.

But while watching Trials, I noticed another professional kit that did not sit right with my spirit. Adidas decided to use color blocking in an unholy way: To create the look of an extra high-cut leg on a full-coverage silhouette, which has the effect of drawing the eye right to the crotch. This is a design that really screams: HEY LOOK, PUBIC BONES!

Adidas apparently thinks this looks good, because they used it twice, on both the dark purple sleeveless unitard and on a short-sleeved version in pastel pink and highlighter sherbet orange. Color blocking would have been a fun way to create the illusion of a unitard layered over shorts, but that’s not the route they went here. When have you ever seen someone put a leotard over briefs? Exactly.


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A post shared by Anna Hall (@annaa.hall)

No shade to the athletes who chose to compete in these uniforms because it’s what they’re most comfortable in, but this seems to me like a clear example of there not being enough women on the design team. However many there are with decision-making power, it’s not enough. If we needed any more proof that it is not, in fact, a woman’s world, this is it.

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