While the growing global popularity of professional and amateur female sports is something to celebrate, much of the media coverage of women athletes in competition still misses the mark, quite literally – focusing too often on female anatomy rather than sporting achievements, through invasive angles and excessive close up shots which can potentially devalue the empowerment that sports bring to participants.
As a beauty brand that aims to support women against everyday sexism, Unilever’s beauty brand LUX wants to raise awareness of the issue and start a conversation with both broadcasters and audiences to encourage them to ‘Change The Angle’. Working closely with Wunderman Thompson Singapore, LUX teamed up with Volleyball SA (South Africa) and sports broadcaster SABC on a bold new initiative in which they hacked a live tournament by highlighting potentially sexist camera angles – and in so doing, flipping the male gaze back on itself. The initiative is also supported by a host of top female athletes, sports commentators and officials.
Organised by the South African Volleyball Association, the Durban Open live Volleyball game took place on April 15 and 16 in Durban, where eight different teams of South Africa’s top women beach volleyball athletes participated. This was broadcast live by SABC reaching an estimated audience of 19.7 million in South Africa. As part of the ‘Change The Angle’ initiative, female players wore QR codes on their bodies – the same areas that sports broadcasters tend to focus on.
When scanned, the code directs the viewer to a film made by LUX, where leading sportswomen call on broadcasters and cameras to ‘Change The Angle’ of how female athletes are portrayed – by focusing on their strengths and aiming the lens at their sporting prowess, rather than their physical attributes. The video highlights shocking statistics regarding sexist sports coverage, including “2500 pictures objectifying women reported at the 2021 Olympics”(1) and includes powerful statements from female athletes. It ends with six best practice tips for the media on how female athletes should be portrayed.
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