How Good Looking Are Women Olympic Athletes?
August 08, 2012, 10:05 PM
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Anecdata time:

About 20 years ago, corporate America started experimenting with video-conferencing to cut down on its huge bills for travel. Face to face contact builds more camaraderie than phone contact, so why not have workers in remote offices communicate face to face via telescreen?

The problem was that, 20 years ago, the people we were used to seeing on television were people who had been hired because they would look good on TV, and then they were made up, lit, and rehearsed to look even better on TV. In comparison, my fellow marketing researchers on early video-conferences tended to look pretty ghastly. My reaction: My coworkers on this project look like a bunch of zombies? We`re doomed. (Politely, their opinions of how I looked on video-conferencing screens were never articulated in so many words.)

Similarly, women athletes on TV aren`t typically as good looking as the high-heel-wearing spokesmodels on TV. But that doesn`t mean they aren`t good looking on average. To understand this, it helps to see them in person in civilian clothes.

For example, the last Saturday night of the 1984 L.A. Olympics, I was in a frozen yogurt shop in Westwood Village, next to the athlete`s dorms, and in walked three couples from the Swedish Olympic team out on a date. 

The three girls were probably swimmers, high jumpers, something like that: tall and blonde. Plus, out on a date, they were wearing high heels (all about 6`1" in heels), make-up, had their hair done, and had on stylish clothes chosen to flatter their best features (e.g., legs) and understate their features that might be a little too much, such as no need for those 1980s-style shoulder pads on those young ladies.

There were always a lot of beautiful young women in Westwood in the early 1980s, and while these three athletes might not have been above the 95th percentile in exquisiteness of features, they radiated so much sheer health that they were stunning. On the other hand, these three were not recognizable stars, nobody was mobbing them for autographs, they were also-rans who didn`t give the impression that they Would Do Whatever It Takes for Gold, which often leads to some scary looks. So, that`s probably the sweet spot — Olympic qualifier but non-contender.