On the Bench: So what, she had a wardrobe malfunction

Gabriella Papadakis and partner Guillaume Cizeron participated in the Olympics Ice Skating Short Program earlier last week. These French representatives scored an incredible 81.93 which placed them second behind Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. However, rather than speaking about the incredible lifts and turns this couple executed, newscasters were more focused on the wardrobe malfunction Papadakis experienced.

Papadakis wore a dainty emerald-green halter costume which unclasped around the neck. This caused her left breast to be exposed for some of the performance. Even though this is obviously not a part of the program, this became the focus of their entire program.

No one cared about the technique of the skaters or the storyline they were trying to orchestrate, it was all centered on a 15 second clip of her breast spilling out of her top. Yes, of course, this isn’t something that is typically accepted on family programing like the Olympics, but it wasn’t like she went out there trying to show off her bits. It was clipped in the beginning of the program and it just snapped halfway through. It’s difficult to prevent these things from happening on live television. That’s just a part of live television; anything can happen, especially wardrobe malfunctions.

This isn’t the only malfunction that’s happened at these Olympic games either. Yura Min, a long program ice dancer, suffered from a major malfunction when the back of her costume ripped. This distracted her from her performance since she had to constantly push it back into place to prevent from exposing her chest. Even through there isn’t a major difference between these two malfunctions, Papadakis’ malfunction seems to be taking center stage.

For some reason, in the United States and other countries, wardrobe malfunctions of this kind are seen as mortal sins and international scandals. Why, as a society, are we shy about the female form in person, yet the second something like this happens, there are close-ups on big screens and slow motion replays? As if she wasn’t already embarrassed enough about something she couldn’t control in the moment, it seems like we want to punish her further. It will forever live on Youtube and other platforms where it can never be deleted. Now this performance will be known as the day her breast was exposed and not the day she had an Olympic debut and executed a near-perfect performance.

Some people are confused about why these skaters didn’t try to fix this mistake mid-performance or try to reinforce the clasps on these costumes. But here’s the thing people forget: these professionals have dress rehearsals and practice these performances for literally months or even years. They can do these routines in their sleep and they know their bodies in the costumes. It’s not their fault that when the final performance came, the clasp popped or the seam ripped. All fabrics have a limit, they’re not indestructible. “The show must go on,” and that’s their jobs for representing their respective countries. Even Papadakis said to Yahoo Sports, “It happened in the first few seconds. I told myself I didn’t have a choice; I have to keep going.”

In the face of that adverse situation that is exactly what they tried to do. Why can’t they be celebrated for their performances rather than the complications they faced during the performance? These women made it to the Olympics with their partners and rather than speak to their successes we’d rather tear them down because of these mishaps. I guess it’s human nature to point out the flaws, but it would be nice if we focused on the positive.

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