The International Handball Federation [IHF] has changed its rules governing women’s uniforms, now allowing tank tops and shorts instead of bikini bottoms and crop tops.
The rule change followed a global campaign led by Australian woman Talitha Stone, currently living in Norway. Her change-dot-org petition 'Let them wear shorts' launched in July attracted over 61,000 signatures.
The petition – supported by Collective Shout – called on the IHF to change its rules to allow women beach handball players to compete wearing bike shorts instead of bikini bottoms after the European Handball Federation (EHF) disciplinary commission fined the Norwegian women’s team for breaking the rules by wearing bike shorts instead of bikinis at the Euro 21 tournament in Spain. The EHF described the shorts as “improper clothing".
Collective Shout backed Ms Stone who worked with the movement when she was still living in Australia. Ms Stone led our 2012 campaign against the Lingerie Football League (LFL) by going undercover in tryouts for the game - which involved playing gridiron in lingerie - to expose its sexist nature. Players were required to sign a contract agreeing to “accidental nudity”. Channel 7 eventually dumped its LFL broadcast.
In her petition Ms Stone stated: “As an Aussie sports-loving woman living in Norway, I am really disturbed to see the Norwegian women’s beach handball team fined for not playing in bikinis.
“Male players are allowed to play in tank tops and shorts. But the International Handball Federation rules state women players have to wear bikini bottoms ‘with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg'.
“Why should female athletes be punished for wearing an outfit which is functional and practical allowing freedom of movement without being worried about possible exposure to a big audience as well as unwanted comments and sexual harassment?”
The IHF has now updated its official Beach Handball Rules of the Game to mandate shorts for female players. The new tank and shorts uniform combination replaces the previously mandated crop tops and bikini bottoms.
“I hope this is the beginning of the end of sexism and objectification of women and girls in sport, and that in future all women and girls will be free to participate in sport without fear of wardrobe malfunctions and sexual harassment,” Ms Stone said.
October 29, 2021
Contact: Melinda Tankard Reist, email: [email protected]
Talitha Stone, email: [email protected]