I received a quick and polite response to my letter to Toughman Triathlon yesterday. Here it is in full:
I appreciate your feedback as it really matters to us what our racers and
their families think. No offence was meant by having peelers from the
magazine. We thought of it as a goof actually not something to take very
However we are very sensitive to how we are perceived so in that regard we
apologize if you were offended.
Richard Izzo Race Organizer
I appreciate that they responded quickly, and that they indicated that the opinions of racers and families is important.
For a moment I considered whether or not I had maybe missed the joke. Was I being a grouch? Overly politically correct? I thought about it all night.
My answer is, I don’t think so. I accept the explanation as it’s being offered, I believe no harm was intended and I truly don’t think they meant to offend me or anyone else. I also think that contacting them about it was the right thing to do, because hopefully they will reconsider hiring the Maxim women for future races. Perhaps they will think about how something that seems like a goof might actually belittle and sexualize the female athletes their race exists to celebrate.
I believe that no one considered that it would be a problem. And that is the problem. The messages that tell our girls what beauty and sexy are, and that those are the qualities they should strive for, those messages are everywhere. Even in sports. Even at family events. Young women can’t live up to those images (to say nothing of the fact that they are the wrong images). So they feel badly about themselves. And they make bad choices.
As parents, there is a lot we can do to help our daughters set the right goals, pick the right role models and feel good about themselves. One of those things is pointing out when the wrong message is being sent, if it so happens that we have access to the messenger. In this case, I did and they were kind enough to hear it and respond. Let’s hope they make a different choice next time.