When the German women's gymnastics team was practicing ahead of the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships held in Basel, Switzerland, this week, the athletes wore full bodysuits for maximum comfort. That's when it hit them, says gymnast Elisabeth Seitz, per the BBC: Why couldn't they wear these outfits during the competition, instead of their usual leg-exposing leotards? That's exactly how Sarah Voss showed up to the competition Wednesday, sporting a full-length outfit, with the German sports federation DTB noting she was doing so to protest the "sexualization" of female athletes. Two of Voss' teammates were also set to wear full bodysuits during their own performances.
The 21-year-old told German broadcaster ZDF that when she was a kid, she didn't mind the more revealing leotards, but as she got older and her body matured, she "began feeling increasingly uncomfortable" in the tight outfits. The full bodysuit doesn't break any rules—the International Gymnastics Federation says a "one-piece leotard with full-length legs—hip to ankle" is permitted, as long as it's elegant—and Voss and team think it's an important way to push back against sexualization in the sport, particularly in the wake of the sexual abuse that's taken place within the industry. "We hope gymnasts uncomfortable in the usual outfits will feel emboldened to follow our example," Voss says. Fans are also praising the move, calling it "revolutionary," per the Independent. "Thanks for pushing for change in the sport!" one commenter noted. (Read more gymnast stories.)