On Monday, a bruhaha, or perhaps a bruhuhu (forgive me, internet), erupted over a photograph taken by Kevin Van Paassen that appeared on the front of the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest national and second-largest daily newspaper. The picture in question features 17-year-old figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond extending her leg in the air while dressed in a revealing costume that would be considered common for her sport.
It seems that to some the image represents a terrifying reminder that many women – including female athletes – do indeed possess an area of their bodies where their two legs meet and reproductive organs are often present. Shocking and appalling stuff, I know.
There was enough of an outrage to elicit a response from the Globe and Mail’s Public Editor Sylvia Stead, who declared the photo to be “not acceptable.”
Readers described the photo as too revealing, although it was a typical skating costume. Others said surely you could have found a more dignified photo and I agree with those readers. Many readers (and I fall into the same camp) are very proud of our Canadian athletes and feel paternal or maternal toward them and their great accomplishments. So, they want photos to show our athletes in the best possible light and not to (potentially) embarrass them.
While it may be a photo editor’s duty to ensure that images enhance a story – and don’t distract from it – I tend to agree with an application of the trope that any umbrage with a photograph such as this says a lot more about the person taking offense than anyone else. In fact, I would suggest that anyone claiming to be offended by the picture of Osmond competing for the very first time at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships isn’t so much offended as they are starved for expression, and merely utilizing something they recognize as possibly being inappropriate to pathetically fill that hunger in the least genuine way imaginable.
Thankfully, the athlete herself has provided us all with the most reasonable and measured take.
Reaction to photo: it’s not a bad pic. It could have been better, it also could have been worse.I’m excited to be on the cover pic isn’t bad
— Kaetlyn Osmond (@kaetlyn_23) March 18, 2013
If the incense over the picture was good for anything, it was to prompt these comments from Osmond which serve to remind us that reason in the face of artificial outrage exists and should celebrated even more than figure skating results.