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Aug 6 2012

Can We Talk About the Hair Clips on Female Gymnasts?

By at 2:24 pm

aly raisman jewish gymnast olympics 2012 hair clipAs I wrote when the Olympics began, we love the Olympics in our house, even though our kids don’t really watch TV. It’s sports, it’s international education, it’s diversity, it’s a beautiful thing.

Here are the Olympics updates from my perspective:

1. Swim, baby, swim! My older son (and my younger one for that matter) are very cautious in general. Gentle and cautious. They take their time. Last to crawl, last to walk, last to talk, last to go in a bouncy castle, last to blah blah blah. Since I don’t believe in swim lessons (I mean, I believe they exist but I don’t partake), our kid has taken his time swimming. We teach him slowly and let him take strides when he’s ready. I’ve been trying all summer to teach him to dive. Slowly, gently, from a crouched position from the side of a pool. But he’s scared and he giggles and screams excitedly, “NO MAMA!” and I keep trying and then get mildly annoyed because he’s so close to doing it but he won’t do it.

One night watching Michael Phelps and that child was diving. I’m serious. We watched one of the thousands of races swimmers compete in, and the next day, that child could visualize himself diving and he let me coax him in. He loved it and he was so proud of himself. He needed that visual nudging. Amazing.

Side note: our younger son has now taken to wearing a swim cap (with a Batman insignia on it) and goggles pretty much nonstop since watching swimming. He is more adventurous than his older brother in the pool and has increased his adventurousness after seeing Olympic swimming. He flings his body into the water and says he is “diving,” which when he says it in his almost-4-year-old dialect sounds like “dying.” That’s kind of weird but what can I do.

2. Am Yisrael Chai. Oh, the Israel politics have heated up pretty good, haven’t they? From the Italians staging a moment of silence in solidarity, to the French swimmer with the Hebrew tattoo in honor of his family who survived the Holocaust (it reads, “I am nothing without you”), to a very nice piece in Sports Illustrated about the Black September massacre and its impact on the Games 40 years later, it’s been fascinating to see the larger support and reaction to this year’s Israeli athletes.

3. Perfection. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a very strange and quirky person. Case in point: I have rules I make up for all sorts of things and one of those things is I think there should be rules for what should be an Olympic sport. Here goes: I don’t think any event that is judged should be part of the same Games as things that are not judged. So I like classic Olympic sports like running, jumping, lifting, throwing; things that have a clear winner based on who is stronger, faster, lifts more, jumps higher, etc. I have tremendous respect and awe for the gymnasts, divers, and other “judged” athletes, but I simply feel it should be a separate set of events.

The subjectivity, the emphasis on doing things “perfectly” rather than “best,” really makes me crazy. I love watching those events, don’t get me wrong, but the forced smiles the gymnasts have to give and the heartbreaking missteps that lead to not winning really make me feel like that’s not the same as sports where it matters not if you are pretty, stand up straight, or arch your back correctly. The sports I like have form, for sure, but if you decided you can run faster than everyone else by hopping on one leg and you beat everyone, you’d win. Not so in judged sports; there is only one way to land, to pose, and to score.

Anyway. Now that everyone hates me, I wanted to point out that this is yet another lesson we get to teach our sons as we watch the Olympics. It’s only in the Olympics that you have to be perfect. In our lives, we do our best and we can do sports and enjoy it but you don’t have to be perfect ever.

4. Kippah Clips. While we are on the subject of perfection, can we talk for a second about the hair clips on female gymnasts? I cannot figure out for the life of me why they slick their hair down, clearly using plenty of product, but then use a vast array of kippah clips (sorry, but that’s just what they are and yes it makes me think of The Maccabeats who really know how to rock a kippah clip, let’s be honest, so sue me) in arcs all around their heads and specifically, their buns. Sometimes the clips are the same color as their hair but a lot of times they are not. And forgive me for using my PhD in Neuroscience and delving this deep, but what is up with the need for every hair to be supposedly pinned down thus? Some gymnasts have loose hair in a ponytail with lots of “strays” anyway, but the area surrounding that bun is festooned–yes, festooned–with tens of those clips. I don’t get it. To me, it reveals aspects of the perfection I describe above that I find impossible. It is impossible to have every hair in place, as it were. But that’s kind of what this set of competition is about, right? Perfection. See #3 above.

5. Money talks, and it’s persuasive. I wish the financial aspects of the training and awards was more regulated, because it shouldn’t be that wealthy countries can basically “buy” the best athletes with huge stipends, incentives, and salaries for winning. I wish that the money athletes get for bringing home a medal could go to the countries who have no money for training facilities and travel stipends. I wish that more women in countries that have never let them compete before could fight for more resources so they can compete. I wish that one day the Olympic hopeful spirit of international cooperation and comradeship will be realized and all people can excel according to their desires, in a celebration of freedom and peace.

I am really enjoying this year’s Olympics despite my rules and regulations and quirkiness, and despite my judgments about money allocations and my bizarre obsession with the need for kippah clip perfection. I love it all, imperfections and all.

Here’s to the Olympic spirit and the beauty and potential of the Games.


Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

About Mayim

Mayim Bialik is the grandchild of immigrants from Eastern Europe and the mother of two young boys. She is best known for her lead role in the 1990s NBC sitcom Blossom, as well as her current role as Amy Farrah Fowler on CBS' The Big Bang Theory.

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