Ebony Rainford-Brent phrases a good idea badly

As I flicked onto the sports pages of  a well known British broadcasting establishment’s website a minute ago, the title ‘Sexing up key to boosting profile of women’s sport – Rainford-Brent’ caught my eye.  What the bejeezus was this woman on about?

Rainford-Brent – Played sports and looked feminine, result!

Now from the article headline I would have expected Rainford-Brent to be suggesting that all women’s sports should be played in underwear, an idea further cemented by her opening quote “You want women to be attracted to the sport, but sex sells“.  Seriously, for a moment I thought it was all going to go a little bit  Lingerie Football League (vomit), however Rainford-Brent then goes onto sensibly highlight what is sadly one of the key reasons women do not play sport; because it doesn’t make you look feminine.

80% of women are not active enough and one key factor of this is the fact that getting sweaty is often seen as masculine.  Even when the women’s section of sports shops is now a mass of neon pink, baby blue and nice shades of purple there’s still something deep routed in woma- kind that would rather risk our health than be seen in running gear.  Rainford-Brent points out that sports such as tennis and netball are very popular with women because they still allow you to look feminine as well being active.  This could also be due to netball being biggest sport women will play at school and therefore is more likely to be carried on into later years and tennis is about the most widely broadcast women’s sport going, however Rainford-Brent does have a point, both sports do allow the participants to…well…dress like a girl.

Rainford-Brent sums up what she’s meaning to convey by saying how when Women’s cricket set out, they had to wear the men’s kit and were lost under unflattering, baggy clothing.  However once the EBC realised women would actually be playing Cricket at a high standard for a long time and that it wasn’t just a phase, more fitted kits were invested in. “Simply by tailoring the tracksuits it made the players look smarter and it does make a difference because you want to look professional and at the top of your game.”

I’m not sure that tailoring a tracksuit to better fit the female shape is ‘sexing it up’, but underneath the provocative title there is a good point to be made,  it’s less ‘sex sells‘ and more ‘let women look and dress like women whilst enjoying their sports’.


NB: Rainford-Brent’s full name is Ebony-Jewel Cora-Lee Camellia Rosamond Rainford-Brent, amazing!

Images from http://french.open-tennis.com/womens-tennis-fashions.phphttp://www.womensportreport.com and https://twitter.com/Ebzcricket



  1. This raises a whole different debate about how and why a woman feels she should wear clothes that are ‘feminine’ (or ‘masculine’) whatever that might mean. Surely the important thing in sport is not to wear clothes that are feminine or masculine but clothes that allow you to participate to your best ability (hence why it would be incredibly difficult for Muslim women wearing religious clothing to participate in elite swimming for instance). When I started playing rugby (many years ago) the shirts were thick heavy cotton ones that, when wet, weighed a ton and were often too big for us which also inhibited our ability to play. Nowadays, both men and women players wear lightweight synthetic ones that minimise an opponent’s ability to grab hold in a tackle, and don’t inhibit the wearer’s ability to showcase their skills.

    So ultimately clothing should have nothing to do with whether it ‘feminises’ the wearer but everything to do with allowing the wearer to participate in sport to the fullest extent.

    Unfortunately Rainford-Brent’s quotes have pulled us back into a debate that we thought we had left years ago and once again legitimised the views of those who believe that there is something inferior to women’s sport and that it needs ‘sex to sell’. My heart sinks.

    • I think the big problem we have in the UK is that we do live in such an image based society and one of the biggest causes found by organisations such as UK Sport and WSFF for young women not carrying on sport is because it’s seen as ‘masculine’. It’s sad but true. Certainly the kit needs to be practical and allow the sportswoman or man to play to the best of her ability, but I can’t help thinking that if making them a bit more fitted and feminine will encourage more women to take part in sport then its worth doing as long as it doesn’t interfere with the actual game play.
      Rainford-Brent’s comment about ‘sex to sell’ was definitely a horrible flashback to the far too recent past, but I think she was just trying to provoke a reaction on the topic of women’s sport, albeit a little bit of a misguided.
      We like hearing people’s opinions here and if you want to discuss your point further or let us know about women’s rugby then we’d love you to write a blog for us! Our email is Sportisteditor@gmail.com

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