By now you may know the name Olivia Dunne.
If you are not one of the 6.3 million people who follow her on TikTok, the 2.3 million who follow her on Instagram or the 3.12 million people who watched her most popular video, then perhaps you saw the article on her in the New York Times.
The Times published a feature on Dunne – a member of the LSU gymnastics team – that riled up some people in women’s sports. Dunne makes some $2 million a year on social media platforms wearing revealing outfits because of NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) deals are available to college athletes. The point of the story was to point out that Dunne uses her good looks rather than her athletic achievements to make that money.
And that has some women in sports angry because, as one unnamed college coach (of course, unnamed) of a woman’s program stated in another publication in her opinion it’s wrong for Dunne to use her sexuality for recognition because it sets back the women’s fight for sports equality.
“Hi, my name is Olivia, but my friends call me Livvy,” the millionaire gymnast states on her website. Yes, of course she has a website – LIVVY – The Official Website of Olivia Dunne. It’s interesting to notice that it has videos and information about her gymnastics life and nothing from her social media posts.
@livvy Might delete later #foryou #fakebody ♬ L$d – Luclover
Is it wrong for Livvy– I’ll refer to her by that name even tho we are not friends – to use her good looks for attention and profit? Of course not. Livvy is obviously smart enough to know she can make money on her good looks and savvy enough to know how to attract sponsors using TikTok and Instagram.
She’s hardly the first female or even female athlete to be recognized more for her appearance than her athletic achievements. Figure skaters Sonja Henie – who became a movie star – Peggy Fleming and Katarina Witt were beauties and golfer Jan Stephenson even did a provocative ad campaign for the LPGA Tour with her posing next to golf clubs and the tagline “Would You Play A Round With Me?”
But it was a Russian tennis player who took things to the Livvy level some 20 years ago. Anna Kournikova turned heads on the court and on Wall Street. She was on the cover of magazines all over the world – some not even her agents ever heard of – and posed in a sports bra for a billboard ad in London during Wimbledon that stated “Only The Ball Should Bounce.”
Frank DeFord, writing so eloquently for a Sports Illustrated cover story in 2000, typed this out for the magazine. “So here is what Kournikova proves about Homo sapiens, male division, circa 2000: Skin-deep still counts….That, for example, is why this magazine, which is not run by naifs, has Ms. Kournikova on its cover this week instead of some grubby Devils goon or some sweaty-armpitted Laker.”
The headline for that article included these juicy words: “A Hot Body Can Count As Much As A Good Backhand.”
In other words, sex sells.
It always has and it always will and that’s not wrong. It’s just reality.