Skills Are Half of the Image

by Meghana Paturu ‘22


Published Dec. 23rd, 2020

While watching soccer tournaments at home or perhaps even competing in one yourself, you have probably seen coaches running back and forth across the field to give their athletes special equipment, water, and perhaps a word of advice. However, have you ever seen a coach rushing off the field to buy black hair dye for their team’s athletes? Such a scene was found at an intercollegiate national soccer tournament in southeast China. 

On December 3, 2020, one female athlete who was a part of Fuzhou University’s Soccer team was criticized by the opposing team for not having “enough black” in her hair. The head coaches left the arena and searched for black hair dye through different stores to meet the requirements; however, they were unable to do so in time for the start of the game. Unfortunately, with one player short, the entire team was left with no choice but to forfeit the match. 

By the day, under China’s president Xi Jinping, the Communist Party of China has been significantly expanding its interference in daily life to a critical point where almost every aspect in the public eye is either regulated or censored. 

In China, entertainers’ images are also regulated. In the television industry, Chinese censors blur out any jewelry that young, male pop stars wear to prevent them from setting “feminine” examples for younger boys in the nation, as New York Times reporter Li Yuan writes.

These methods of control, whether it is darkening an athlete’s hair or blurring out accessories, highlight the small ways that people in the spotlight rely on to express their real personalities. 

Typically, the media represents stars and especially athletes by their statistics and how well they perform. These people thus turn to tattoos, jewelry, and unique hairstyles to show the slightest bits of who they really are. They are signs that separate athletes and entertainers from one another, allowing them to be seen not only as a part of an organization but also as talented, unique individuals.

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