What do you find beautiful?
There are as many different answers to this question as there are people on this planet. And I, for one, find that tremendously reassuring.
When I was growing up, we had the most amazing book collection. My parents using reading as a reward, so my sister and I turned into bookworms who would sneak books to the dinner table, and read with flashlights after bedtime. One of my favorite books is People, by Peter Spier. It's an excellent book for introducing children to the idea that not everyone looks like them, eats the same food, plays the same games...or has the same idea of beauty. (Note: I purchased this book for my nieces only to discover that the last page of the book basically says that the only way people are alike is that we all die someday, so if your child is not ready to tackle mortality as a concept, you might want to skip that page for now. Wish I'd remembered that before I read it to my nieces.)
That is why I have such an intense problem with what apparently happened on the dumbest show ever, What Not To Wear. Although I'm sure that the show is not completely bad all the time, apparently they "made over" a hockey fan and, in the course of convincing her to stop wearing her beloved hockey jerseys - including a SIGNED Patrick Sharp jersey - one of the hosts said, "A dude would wear that and you're a beautiful woman, so you should not wear this."
If I take a moment to give WNTW the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they were TRYING to say that large hockey jerseys are not necessarily flattering to women. Most jerseys are (sadly) cut for men. (More on that in a minute.) And I am the first to admit that my boobs disappear when I pull my old jersey on and I look like the 13 year old boy that the jersey - size Children's L/XL - was designed for.
But that is not what the host said. She said, if you are a beautiful woman, you should not wear this.
The take-home point: If you are a beautiful woman, you should not wear a hockey jersey.
The contrapositive: If you are wearing a hockey jersey, you are not a beautiful woman.
Oh WNTW, grow some brain cells. Women like hockey too. I know that some might find this surprising. And some, like the hosts of WNTW, even find it unfeminine. But you can take your concept of beauty and your concept of femininity and shove them up your ass, because the bottom line - and the ABSOLUTE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR ALL WOMEN TO KNOW - is that it doesn't MATTER what you're wearing. YOU ARE STILL BEAUTIFUL.
Luckily, I am not alone in thinking that this episode of WNTW was full of shit. These two bloggers wrote excellent responses. And I hope that women hockey fans read them and circulate them widely.
Sadly, it is not just the hosts of WNTW that send the message that hockey is a man's world. The NHL does not have a ton of merchandise choices for women. For example, right now on NHL.COM, there are 30 jerseys for the LA Kings available for purchase. 21 of those jerseys are for men. 4 are for children. 5 are for women.
Men can get the home or away jerseys customized with any player's name. Women can too...but our jerseys are straight black. They don't even have white bands around the elbows, let along silver stripes. BULLSHIT. We can also choose from the utterly incomprehensible "champagne" jerseys, which look basically the same for every team. But they have rhinestones, so of course women will love them, because we LOVE shiny things! Vomit. Women can also choose a Kings bikini. Double vomit. I'd rather be dead. I finally ended up buying my newest women's jersey on Amazon.com, where the choices were not great, but at least I could get something that looked like a REAL jersey for less than $100.
Laurie has an excellent blog on the jersey choices for women. In it, she explains how I feel perfectly.
I honestly don't know how to say it any plainer. This is what we want: We want our team's colours. We want our team's colours in the same spot, as the team. We want our team's logos in the same spot as the team, and we want the name of our choice on the back, in the same spot as the team, in the same font, sans sparkles. We want the same goddamn jersey with a little tapering in for where our boobs go.
Amen, Laurie, amen.
In other words, female hockey fans are getting it from all directions. Our merchandise choices suck, but if we buy a man's jersey, apparently we are not "beautiful." I know there are fewer female fans, so maybe it makes sense to have slightly less of a selection so that you don't have a backlog of female apparel, but come on, NHL. You've GOT to do better than 5 jerseys, three of which are authentic, one of which is a cheap knock-off, and one of which has fucking rhinestones.
I plan to raise my daughters in a world where hockey fandom is not only beautiful, but natural and essential. A world where WNTW has been cancelled for many years, or at the very least, is never allowed on in my household. A world where every jersey choice for a man has a female equivalent. A world where my daughters KNOW they are beautiful, no matter what they wear.
...As long as they are wearing Kings colors.