As my colleague Amanda Marcotte explained earlier today, the International Volleyball Federation announced back in March that it would no longer require women’s beach volleyball players to compete in bikinis. For the first time ever in Olympic competition—beach volleyball joined the program in 1996—female players will be allowed to wear shorts and sleeved, midriff-concealing tops.
The new regulations are meant to placate countries with conservative religious and cultural standards for women’s dress. They also threaten to deprive millions of male viewers of one of the sport’s main draws: buff, scantily clad female bodies glistening in the sun (or the London drizzle, as the case may be). But God bless the USA—the women on the American beach volleyball team have no intention of abandoning their skimpy swimsuits. In their own words, here are the top four reasons why the Americans will continue to wear bikinis.
1. Tradition/inertia. If the current uniforms work, why switch them up? “We’re staying in our [bikinis]. I don’t see too many people changing. To each his own. If you get down to it, it’s about the sport and not what we’re wearing,” says U.S. gold medalist Misty May-Treanor.
2. Physical pride/screw the body police. “I’m not a sex symbol; I’m an athlete,” May-Treanor’s teammate Kerri Walsh told Sports Illustrated. And May-Treanor adds that she prefers the revealing outfits because, “What you see is what you get—there’s no airbrushing.”
3. West Coast pride. U.S. team member Jen Kessy brought out her Golden State credentials, explaining, “We’re not uncomfortable in our bikinis. Growing up in Southern California, that’s what you wear from when you’re a little kid to now in the summertime.”
4. Sand. Apparently, it sneaks into the folds of extra fabric and makes players itchy. If you wear baggier clothing, Kessy explains, “you get sand everywhere.”