It seems that Jere Longman of the New York Times isn't really feeling Olympic 100 meter hurdler Lolo Jones. In a recent NYT Article titled For Lolo Jones, Everything Is Image, Longman questions everything about Lolo Jones and her motivation for success. In addition to saying that she has a "slim chance of winning a medal" he goes on to say that her success has been based "not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign". The writer goes on to quote another journalist who says “Limited opportunities are there for women to gain a foothold unless they sell themselves as sex kittens or virgins for sale." To me, the beginning of this article seem more of an attack than journalistic commentary.
Jones, who is of African-American, Native American, Norwegian, and French descent...and who has always stood out from the crowd, had a rather tumultuous upbringing. According to the good folks at Wikipedia (smile)...
Jones attended eight schools in eight years while her single mother, Lori, often held down two jobs to support her family of six. Lolo's father spent most of her childhood in the Air Force and later, in state prison. In third grade, the Jones family settled in the basement of a Des Moines Salvation Army church. During the summer when day camps were offered at the church, Lolo would wake up early to avoid being teased by other kids if they found out she was living in the basement.
Though Jones uses her sexuality and sex appeal in endorsements and in magazines, as she did in her above ESPN spread, Jones asserts that she is an evangelical Christian. To top it off, Jones announced in 2009 that she was a virgin and that maintaining her virginity before marriage was harder than training for the Olympics.
As with most posts nuanced on the 50 SHADES OF BLACK blog, I'm curious to know what you think as we explore: Race/Skin Tone (Raise your hand if you've asked out loud or to yourself, "What is Lolo's ethnicity?...or better yet "Is she mixed?"), human sexuality, and the formation of identity.
50 SHADES OF BLACK -African American Sex Symbols and the Complexity of Skin Tone