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Just some off-the-cuff remarks Ovie made, right?

October 26, 2010

Things like this don’t make waves anymore.

Ovechkin, in that GQ piece:

“If you compare Russia and America,” he explains sagely, “they are two different worlds. People, cars, clothes. Girls’ figures. Especially girls’ figures. Why do you think that is, that when an American goes to Russia for a week, he stays for two extra weeks? Girls! And when a Russian goes to America for a week, he leaves in five days. I’m serious! There’s a statistic…

Given the women that are usually photgraphed draped all over Ovechkin, he’s obviously talking skinny dolled up women vs average girls.

So why don’t these things make waves anymore? Is it because we’ve learned to ‘lighten up’? I don’t see much to lighten up about.

Ovechkin is a rich, famous, popular athlete, and hey, he deserves every penny he makes. I don’t know many guys that wouldn’t trade places with him, partly because he has a dream job, but mostly because of the life outside the dream job that he gets to live and ordinary people don’t – the money, the cars, the parties, and of course the women. Of course he gets to party with the supermodel or the popstar that you will probably never meet.

The guy any man would love to be is always a good story for a magazine like GQ, and I think it’s great for hockey when they take an interest in the game’s stars. I have no issue with stories about AO, or how popular AO is with the ladies.

I do have an issue with the quote, and the amount of space devoted to it, though.

On the one hand, we have a guy that often says a lot of silly things in interviews, saying a bunch of silly things in an interview… there are statistics on that? Really? He’s a guy who’s become so successful at such a young age that supermodels, actresses and popstars have been throwing themselves at him since his career started… I wonder if he’s ever hung out with a “normal” chick. He’s probably pretty immature, as successful athletes often are, and judging from his comments in the rest of the interview… not very cerebral.  But at the end of the day it’s something said by someone with a lot of reach, and someone a lot of people look up to (a lot of young people, in particular).  

On the other hand is a recent on-air comment made by a female Montreal radio “personality” who has made an appearance in my rants before, who said something along the lines of “women who are above a certain level of attractiveness are all stupid and/or bitchy.”

As stupid as that comment was, it’s not hard to see where it came from: that woman’s extreme insecurity. It’s really not hard to see where all the… er… non-commendable things she does come from: extreme insecurity.

Women aren’t born hating ourselves… we learn to do it. For whatever reason, it starts off when we’re fairly young, and I think it tends to be at its absolute worst just before, during and just after our teens. And the extreme result of that is a bunch of people just like that radio “personality.”

More often than not it’s just your average run-of-the-mill lower self-esteem – the kind where women don’t think, act, or talk like that but still can’t really come to terms with what they see in the mirror.

These days, that woman is often me. Those of you that are close to me know that a number of things have been going on in my personal life lately that have profoundly affected the way I see myself. It not something I like to talk about on this blog but it’s pretty constant and I expect it to be a while before I feel totally back to normal and ‘like me.’ Even as I’m going through it, I’m amazed that a 27-year-old with an education, a decent job at one of Canada’s largest and most-respected corporations, grown-up crap like a car loan, and the people I have in my life, can still react to the things that have been going on by… feeling hideous and fat.

Yes, I know it’s in my head (tell that to my heart). But I also know that I am not the only one. It’s pretty common. And it’s a horrible horrible experience. It’s probably unique to women – I don’t know, but I have never heard of men talking or feeling like this.

In any case… that go-to reaction doesn’t come out of nowhere… it takes years and years of the wrong messages, unrealistic ideals and bad experiences to instill this kind of attitude in women, and a lifetime of hard work to get rid of it, it seems.

So when Alex Ovechkin is telling a sizeable group of his fans that he doesn’t think girls that look like them are attractive, it’s a problem.

And when his younger female fans think that normal, real-life women can look like supermodels and must look like that, it’s a problem.

And when that 11-year-old boy shooting pucks in his garage and dreaming of becoming Ovie thinks that part of being successful is dating an unrealistic ideal of women, it’s a problem.

And when we aren’t more upset than we are about a role model setting a bad example, it’s a problem.

Even if it’s only tiny wrong message in a tsunami of them, a little well-placed outrage or indignation never hurt anyone.

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2010 3:31 pm

    Hear, hear. I don’t know a single woman who truly considers herself fabulous, beautiful and a catch – this despite reassurances by the opposite gender – we’re merely being patronized, being told what we want to hear. For some reason, it’s always easy to accept and believe the opinions of men who treat us as objects, criticize us and sadistically point out our superficial flaws that we are already painfully focussed on. I’m convinced that it’s vermin like AO who enjoy taking us down a notch when we feel good, to cement and remind us of their superior status to us, and of course that’s a textbook sign of their own insecurities. Yet somehow, that doesn’t make it any better.

    Thanks for a really thoughtful and intimate read, Laura. And I think you’re intelligent, kind, empathetic, funny and beautiful. I’m so glad you are exactly as you are!

    • theactivestick permalink*
      October 26, 2010 10:38 pm

      It’s not a secret that so many people think you’re beautiful. When we say that, we’re not just talking about how gorgeous you are, we’re talking about your soul. Thank you, not just for your comment, but for being equally honest about yourself in all your writing. I’m so glad to have you as a friend.

  2. SensDew11 permalink
    October 26, 2010 3:51 pm

    I don’t think it’s what was sad that didn’t make waves it’s who said, cute adorable Ovechkin and no it’s not okay. It really annoys me how he publicly portrays women as his pretty little toys: bringing two girls from a bar to the rink and taking turns to make out with them? Really?

    I totally get your point, girls are judged waaay too much on looks and it’s disturbing to see that someone who could be very influential on kids on a whole fanbase in general has such a shallow look on girls! Oh well I just wish female Caps fans would just alll not show up to the next home game to make a point: will never happen I know!
    Great read!!

    • theactivestick permalink*
      October 26, 2010 10:42 pm

      That so many kids look up to him is probably what bothered me the most. I am not a parent but it seems to me that trying to raise your kids not to think like that would be next to impossible given the examples and role models out there.

      Thank you for reading, as always, even if you are a Senators fan :)

  3. Amanda permalink
    October 26, 2010 5:11 pm

    Thank you for this, Laura. It’s a shame that no one sees any problem with these big named athletes being total jerks about women anymore. Not even specific women, women as a whole. I’ve never been to Russia, but I’m pretty sure there are women of all shapes and sizes there too, and perhaps the elite rich athletes just aren’t exposed to the non-supermodel/celebrity crowd.

    It’s even worse though that women do it amongst ourselves. We all know what we think and how we feel when we look in the mirror, and funneling our own personal insecurity into tearing other women down is not productive! I would love to think that just by mentioning it in your post, maybe each of us who reads it will think twice the next time we make a nasty comment about or to another woman. Even if the effect only lasted once and was just a drop in the bucket, I can’t help but think it would make the world a slightly better place.

    I’m so glad to have a bright, articulate, beautiful friend like you in my life.

    • theactivestick permalink*
      October 26, 2010 10:48 pm

      Thank you. I really do hope that every person who read that comment does think twice. How are the Ovechkins going to stop doing that to women if women can’t stop doing that to women?

      I am incredibly grateful for what I have in my life.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    October 26, 2010 5:34 pm

    The ad that appeared when I viewed this post was “What Really Attracts Men? 9 Tips to Uncontrollably Set Off Attraction in a Man”

    Thought I would share that kind of ironically hilarious tidbit.

    • theactivestick permalink*
      October 26, 2010 11:22 pm

      LOL those damn ads. I’m working on it, but in the meantime, some of the “related” posts wordpress automatically generates can often be pretty ironically hilarious. Watch for them now, because those will disappear at the same time as the ads :)

  5. Robert R permalink
    October 26, 2010 5:36 pm

    As a fan of Alex Ovechkin, this hardly surprises me what he said and I don’t really care. Ovechkin doesn’t get sold as the role model of the NHL, that goes to Sid the Kid (Which I find wrong considering his extremely immature attitude on the ice at times) and lately, Jonathan Toews (Who I do find is a good person as a role model for young hockey players, workmanlike and mature).

    I would say the issue is that guys like Ovechkin are sold as role models, he’s an inhumanly talented hockey player but that’s genetic lottery going for him more than anything, just like being born into a rich family. He’s fortunate by the circumstances of his birth and natural talent and unfortunately, these professional entertainers as I sometimes think of them get that media exposure as the role models and for some reason, kids get told to idolize people they literally can never be because parents put unrealistic expectations on them or don’t think there’s something wrong with idolizing an entertainer (who loves portraying himself as the bad boy) whose abilities are simply incomprehensible to truly understand for but the smallest fraction of NHL players who have ever lived.

    Ovechkin is the NHL’s most colourful character, I like that because the fact is so many players are just flat in interviews and show little emotion on the ice. He shouldn’t be held up as a role model and frankly, I find it a failing that anyone is told to think to really take seriously what a player generally says outside of the game. Canada’s raised people to worship hockey players above all else really and that’s become a failing really, celebirties can walk around unmolested in Montreal but Lapierre can sign autographs all day. His opinion about anything outside of hockey (or even some aspects inside of hockey) shouldn’t count anymore than any of his fans, but the hero worship aspect of what he does in the NHL seems to raise what it means. Never trust an actor about medical advice or politics and you should never take a 100 million dollar entertainer seriously what he says if he isn’t describing a hockey play.

    Just my opinion, but I think the issue lies more in the fact that people aren’t reading Ovie’s articles for a chuckle.

    • theactivestick permalink*
      October 27, 2010 12:07 am

      I’ve been thinking long and hard about how to respond to this comment since you posted it.

      First of all, thank you for weighing in. You were the first guy to comment publicly or privately and I was wondering how that would go down.

      I agree with two of your points:

      1. That we idolize hockey players too much in this country (and particularly in my city).
      2.That guys like that should not be sold as role models solely because they were born with a gift or managed to become elite athletes/entertainers.

      That said, whether he likes it or not, whether he chose it or not, and whether he is being sold as a role model or not, the minute he stepped onto the big stage he became a role model. I remember being at an outdoor hockey rink two years ago and watching my friend’s little kid shoot a puck in the general direction of nowhere and immediately throw himself at the boards.

      “What are you doing?” his mother screamed.

      “I just scored, mummy,” he said with (I kid you not) an eye-roll.

      He ended up hurting himself pretty badly in the name of channeling Ovechkin.

      And nobody, not the NHL, not the media, not his parents, not his friends, sold Alex Ovechkin to him as a role model. He just picked a player that scored a lot and decided he wanted to be like him.

      Comes with the territory when you’re an incredible, incredible hockey player, I’m afraid.

      • Harry M permalink
        October 27, 2010 10:40 am

        Active Stick, per Amanda’s comments above. You are bright, articulate, and beautiful. This was an amazing read for me. I will go back from time to time and read this all over again.

        My life is all about sports. Since I live in the center of the sports universe, some of the greatest athletes in the world have perfected their craft right in front of my eyes for the last 25 years. Ray Bourque, Tommy Legend, Manny Ramirez and Larry Bird to name a few. All good guys, even Manny. They all did good things on and off the playing field.

        With that said, the parent of that little kid is responsible for the way he would behave off the ice. Look at the way Patrick Roy punched his ticket out of town years ago. He walked off the ice. He quit. Did kids think he was quitter? Did they walk off the ice after giving up 7 goals in their pee wee game?

        Charles Barkley said it best years ago. He said, “I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids. If I weren’t earning $3 million a year to dunk a basketball, most people on the street would run in the other direction if they saw me coming”.

        • theactivestick permalink*
          October 27, 2010 9:59 pm

          I cannot say this enough. I am incredibly blessed to have the people I have in my life. Thank you for being in it.

  6. smalrus permalink
    October 26, 2010 7:06 pm

    Who is Alex Ovechkin?

    • theactivestick permalink*
      October 26, 2010 11:23 pm

      Some scrub I would never go out with cause I prefer out-of-shape dorknerds.

  7. October 26, 2010 7:20 pm

    This is such a great, brave, authentic piece. You have such a beautiful soul and voice.

    • theactivestick permalink*
      October 26, 2010 11:26 pm

      It’s funny that you say that, because I read YOUR blog and find your writing more brave than mine will ever be.

      Thank you, HG!

      • October 26, 2010 11:47 pm

        Thanks but i think only like 10 people read my blog lol. anyway, when i started it, i said if i couldn’t be authentic, i shouldn’t do it.

  8. Jillian permalink
    October 26, 2010 8:17 pm

    word.

    • theactivestick permalink*
      October 26, 2010 11:41 pm

      Thank you. Your comments on my posts are always appreciated.

  9. October 26, 2010 10:27 pm

    I thought this post was great. Very thought-provoking.

    • theactivestick permalink*
      October 27, 2010 12:14 am

      Un gros merci, Nemesis.

  10. October 28, 2010 9:49 am

    While I don’t disagree at all with your post, I will offer another point…Part of the problem with this situation is that there are too many women out there that will do anything to “be with” celebrities/athletes, etc. Take the situation of the girls at the rink…two girls making out with one guy at the same time, what kind of respect does that show for themselves? Absolutely none. Is this JUST low self-esteem? I don’t think so. I have met plenty of girls that think pretty highly of themselves but will throw themselves at a celebrity just to get their 5 minutes of fame. Look at all of the recent celebrity scandals in the US. Part of the reason Ovi and other athletes behave in this manner is because they can. They are revered by men and chased by women.

  11. HotBranch permalink
    October 28, 2010 10:50 am

    As usual, a very interesting read. Kudos for laying bare a little piece of your soul.

    First thing that crossed my mind when I read the Overchkin quote was when he was caught oogling female Habs fans during a commercial break during the 2009 All-Star game (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e55muGzKK5o) He got busted elbow-deep int the cookie jar, but all it did was make the crowd laugh and applaud.

    What he did is part of human nature: we all look at people and (like it or not) make judgements based on appearance (adjusted for personal preferences). That’s not to say that we stop there, but what Ovechkin is suggesting is that you don’t need to go much deeper, and Russia somehow wins the beauty pageant. Ovechkin himself is no prize pig, epidermically-speaking (memo to Ovie: you’ve got enough money, fix your damn chicklets!).

    The unrealistic ideals for female beauty affect men as well as women. Women are, obviously, assaulted with imagery and messages from an early age about how they must look and act. Men, being the dumb animals we tend to be, buy into these messages, and not nearly enough value the inner beauty over the wrapper.

    Ovie, whether he realized it or not, admitted that he’ll take beauty over brains, and that’s fine. If he’s comfortable with a pretty package that’s empty on the inside, it’s his choice. It’s unfortunate, though, that he is seen as a role model, and his candid moment serves to perpetuate an evil cycle. Speaking as a parent, I can’t keep my kids from admiring or even idolizing athletes or celebrities of any sort. My role, though, is to teach and remind them of core values; I also have to give them a reality check that just because someone can stickhandle in a phone booth, run through a wall of human behemoths, defy gravity to dunk a ball, or hit a baseball a country mile doesn’t mean they are a good person or someone whose behavior should be celebrated or imitated.

    Or maybe my kids are lucky that they have a father who is sick of the cult of celebrity. Remember: if beauty is skin deep, ugly goes all the way to the bone marrow, and there are plenty of attractive ugly people out there.

  12. Rose permalink
    June 23, 2012 9:53 pm

    I’m a little late to comment on this post, I know, but I thought I should do it anyway. When I was surfing through your blog I found this and I thought about it for a while, probably longer than I really should spend on any article. Anyway, it’s funny because I (as a 16 year old girl) remember reading this quote by AO pretty recently, and I actually thought to myself, “maybe it’s a good thing that he said that.” I mean, people take Ovechkin seriously as a hockey player, because (and I might just be saying this because I’m a Washington fan) he’s an amazing player. But everyone I know, love him or hate him on the ice, thinks he’s just this crazy guy who can’t be taken seriously off the ice. And if this guy who’s reckless and crazy and over-the-top says something like this, well, maybe it shouldn’t be taken too seriously, either. Ovechkin is a guy who’s entertaining because celebrates ridiculously and because he looks ridiculous and he says ridiculous things. So maybe people will think “oh, Ovi’s just saying something stupid again.” That’s pretty much along the lines of what I thought. Maybe I’m just trying to see the silver lining; who knows?

  13. August 13, 2013 6:01 pm

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