Hey! Remember yesterday how I was all, "Lighten up, people! Paying undue attention to female athletes' fashion choices is okay because it draws attention to the sport and promotes healthy physiques"? Yeah. Well, that was before we heard about the "Wilhelmina Seven" an initiative that is turning seven 'hand-picked' comely LPGA golfers into models. The group is being repped by Wilhelmina Artist Management, the celeb division of the NYC agency, and spearheaded by some guy named "Dieter Esch". Obviously, the 'models' have all been photographed in swimsuits and eveningwear for their portfolios. "This was perfect, to show the world there are sexy, athletic women who can play," says Esch, adding that the campaign is designed, in part, to bring more exposure to the rather unglamorous LPGA. "There was simply not enough pizazz on the LPGA Tour. The players had no representation to speak of, no advertisements to speak of. It's a crime, so Wilhelmina is taking it upon itself to change that."
Very edifying, but the truth is, the LPGA' profile has been rising in recent years, with the advent of stars like Michelle Wie and clothes that, while perhaps not up to Dieter's glamor standard, are considerably more stylish than they were just a few years ago.
But whatever my reservations, the golfers seem psyched. "It was nice to feel glamorous," says Kim Hall, one of the seven. "I'd rather be known for my golf, but it's a bonus when you're considered attractive. It's flattering. It's kind of nice to be one of the 'cute' ones." Says four-time major winner Meg Mallon: "Sounds like a lot of fun to me. I'm for anything that extends the boundaries of our sport, creates additional interest and makes new fans. Once we get people interested in our sport, we keep them. I don't know why anybody would have a problem with that."
Okay, I don't have a problem with that. And I'm glad the models are having fun with it. And for the record, anything that puts healthy role models out there is not all bad. But the thing is this: Venus and Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova are famous athletes who happen to have fun with fashion. These golfers are largely unknown to the public and would be models first. Besides which, they have been selected purely on the basis of looks, not ranking (although they're obviously all accomplished.)
Maybe none of this would bother me if "Dieter Esch" wasn't like a parody of a fashion douchebag throughout the entire article. Of the search for the girls? "I wanted them to look attractive, I wanted them to look sexy." Later: "What I hope for the Wilhelmina 7, I hope that they get exposure beyond golf. It's about style and fashion too. I want people to come out to the golf course and say, 'What are they wearing this weekend?' Well, Dieter, thanks to you they're wearing bikinis. Which I'm sure a lot of people are happy to look at - but I'm guessing they're not golf enthusiasts.
Modeling agency trying to add glamour to LPGA Tour[Los Angeles Times]
Lady Golfers Fashion Forward[Blackbook]