“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair” - Nelson Mandela

/ 5 August 2021

For years, women are labeled as weak as opposed to men, putting them at the bottom of the sports totem pole. And more often than not, women were told of not being good enough because of the notion of just being a girl. But most importantly, double standards have always been set up for women.

Dress codes were supposedly designed to aesthetically show the body and figure of women ranging to modest and full-length dresses to show their ‘feminine’ side, and up to date, women are still fighting to not be confined in the image of ‘femininity’ the society has set.

Despite constant objectification, women fought back and proved that they are more than their bodies, that they too can dominate the world of sports — a field that only men can stay in, or so they say.

It was only in the early 1800s that the role of women in society changed drastically and when women competed in the Olympic games in 1900 for the first time, the conventional notion of femininity in sports was challenged.

And I’m pretty sure that if a woman becomes too competitive in sports, people tend to question how they represent themselves and tell them to act modestly due to the threat of them being ahead of others. It’s also frustrating to know that sometimes, people spend their attention on the physical appearance but not the strength of being an athlete.

But what others do not understand is that women are done trying to prove their worth in sports and fitting into the world that society has built for them. After all, “my body, my rules.”

This is especially true from what Olympic Filipino Champion Hidilyn Diaz has shown to the world as she became the epitome of a woman weightlifter who defies all stereotypes and showed that weightlifting is not a sole man-sport.

This Olympic gold medalist did not even falter when the government blatantly red-tagged her when she called the public’s attention due to the government’s failure to cater to the financial needs of Filipino athletes. 

Diaz showed that women must and can fight too. She proved that women are and can be a woman of all seasons as gives the Philippines its first-ever Olympic gold medal while wearing a lipstick.

“There’s one more reason why I wear lipstick each time I compete; I want to represent the women in sports. Just because I do weightlifting, it does not mean I can’t wear lipstick. I can be strong and beautiful, and be an Olympic champion and a woman too! This is my way of expressing my feminine side. I can put on lipstick, a dress, and a pair of heels whenever I want to. I can be whoever I want to be,” said Diaz.

However, her success also left me wondering, why is it only when Diaz won the gold medal the only time that everyone gave her the attention she deserves? Why is it only when she made history that everyone tried to know her story, watched every interview and competition she has been into and dug into her plans for the future?

Do we only listen and follow someone, especially a woman who has done something big and, in this case, if there’s a medal hanging on her neck? Is doing, proving, and winning something becomes a necessity for us to pay attention to women?

Gratefully, I think and I want to believe that this is not always the case because there are some who have what it takes to uplift and support anyone, and this suggests that despite not winning, women have a lot to offer that people are too afraid to notice and appreciate.

Take for example the Filipino skater Margielyn Didal, even though she lost, she was supportive of her competitors, she celebrated and congratulated the winners while admiring behind someone’s shadow.

Her actions and attitude are a great mood for Tokyo 2020 Olympics that she was penned as “Didal seal of approval” reflecting how women can empower themselves by fueling the confidence and self-esteem they all needed to succeed and rise.

Sure there’s more story to tell about women in sports but it is also undeniably true that Diaz and Didal’s story exposed a reality — women are more than just ‘women’. 

That women can play too.