With the 2016 Olympic games now behind us, one Melbourne-based artist is hoping to capture the tremendous diversity of Rio's female Olympians with illustrations of each gold medalist.
Illustrator and graphic designer Wendy Fox says that it was during the 2012 Olympics that she was first struck by the athleticism and diversity of the world's female athletes. After the London games, Fox produced a poster depicting each woman who won gold. This year, she's taking it step further with plans to compile her 2016 illustrations into a book, as well as a poster. The project is currently raising funds through Kickstarter.
About 4,700 women from around the world competed in Rio, making up 45 percent of all athletes who participated in the 2016 Olympic - an 11 percentage point increase from 1996 and the highest rate of female participation in history. The purpose of immortalizing these women, Fox says, is to give young girls exposure to female athletes and stoke their interest in sports.
"Given how little media coverage there is of female athletes, I thought it would be interesting to create a visual infographic depicting each athlete’s sport, country, physical attributes and their accomplishments," wrote Fox for Kickstarter.
The project seems necessary. Women are 40 percent of all sports participants but receive only four percent of all sports media coverage, according to a report by the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport. Even more, regardless of their accomplishments, typical coverage of female athletes tends to objectify and sexualize, or critique their physical appearance, as we saw in 2012 and 2016 with gymnast Gabby Douglass.
Fox wants to move the focus on female athletes away from the superficial and take an opportunity that only comes every four years to highlight the many activities in which women compete and excel.
"I really want this project to celebrate what the female body can do," she says. "I would love for girls to look at this project and discover a sport that’s for them, especially a sport that they didn’t even know existed before and for them to make a conscious shift in their perception of what it is that their bodies are capable of."