From a wise woman, who I am honoured to call a friend. She once competed against Jessica Zelinka:
I was obligated to wear a bikini to race in all relay events that I competed in during university as it was our team uniform. However, I asked for permission to be allowed to wear a loose pinney (sp?) and short tights while I competed in individual events. I was just more comfortable with not having my ass and stomach exposed every 4 seconds. That being said I also never felt “fit enough,” which is hilarious, in retrospect. My coach was constantly telling me I was too fat. Perhaps had I felt fit enough (ie skinny enough) I would have happily worn the bikini? In reality, I don’t think I would have ever feel completely comfortable wearing it, but who knows. There is definitely peer pressure to wear the bikini. In my humble opinion, the men’s tight shorts are also far too revealing. Who wants to see all that? Not me. Especially not when their uniforms are white. Thank you very much.
I think it (image/looks) will always be an issue for female athletes. It’s an interesting dynamic as I think women feel just as strong a desire to be taken seriously as athletes as they do to be attractive to men. After all, the track (or field) is just a micro stage for the greater stage that is life, no?