Have you heard of Sabina Altynbekova? She's a 17-year-old rising volleyball star who's been getting plenty of attention lately. And it's not for her impressive skills on the court or for her style of play. No, it's for her looks, because according to her coach, Sabina is "hampering" her team because she's so beautiful.
The teen, who's been playing for years in Kazakhstan, is now a complete distraction to the entire sport. And it all came to be after a tournament in Taiwan, where she became a bonafide online sensation. Her Instagram followers skyrocketed, multiple fake Facebook and Twitter accounts were opened in her name, and videos of her on the court were viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
But unfortunately, it's all been for the wrong reasons.
Instead of recognizing her for her sporting ability, all of the hullabaloo around Sabina has been about her looks, and people have gone on to say she's too beautiful to play volleyball.
WHAT?! Now at the risk of turning this into a complete battle of the sexes, let's just rewind for a second. Earlier this month, we concluded the biggest sporting event of the year: the World Cup. Hundreds of "hot jocks" competed at the highest level in fùtbol, and sure, ribbing among team members is one thing, but did anyone dare tell them that they were too "distracting" to the sport? Um, negative.
But with a story like Sabina's, we can see the blatant differences. It's no secret that our bodies are the first things men notice, because even science says that's true. But what message are we sending to girls? That their looks matter far more than their athletic prowess? That if people are more concerned with the way they look, they cannot excel at an activity and passion they love? Or better yet, that they actually can't be more than a pretty face?
It's not hyperbolic to say that the attention Sabina is getting is just downright ridiculous. And the idea that her looks are a hindrance to the team is absurd.
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So parents, listen up! Even if your daughter is not a world-class volleyball player (and if she is, this includes her too!), it's important to teach our girls that they can do whatever they want. Seriously. Gender-specific and stereotypical limits do not exist. And being too "anything," whether it's beautiful or strong or talented, is not a reason to forfeit.
How do you speak to your daughter about body image?
Image via altynbekova_20/Instagram