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Chest Move: Sponsorship Draws Backlash From Women

Many female players say game's governing body should focus on brains, not bras
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2021 7:05 PM CDT
Chest Move: Sponsorship Draws Backlash From Women
File photo of a chess set.   (Heritage Auctions via AP)

(Newser) – Women in the chess world want support—but not like that. International Chess Federation recently announced a sponsorship agreement with Establishment Labs, a company that makes Motiva breast implants, the New York Times reports. The arrangement is meant to financially support chess events for women. Women players who spoke to the Lichess blog were not thrilled with the move. "I've already seen comments online from people saying that they hope prizes for women's events will now include breast enlargement," one anonymous player said. "Let Motiva sponsor men’s events, and we can have one of the men's sponsors," another wrote. Another complained that Motiva markets itself to women’s insecurities, writing, "There are medical reasons to get implants, but companies like that one are selling 80% beauty, and 20% medical reasons."

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But FIDE is trying to ride a wave of interest in women in the chess world sparked in part by the hit Netflix series Queen’s Gambit. As for the medical company, it says it just wants to support women. "We are committed to changing the perception that women make decisions out of insecurity rather than empowerment and self-love, and are disappointed in any commentary suggesting otherwise," the company said. And a player at the first event sponsored by Establishment Labs—and Motiva—said promotional material was unrelated to breast implants, instead just instructions to do a self-exam to screen for cancer. Fiona Steil-Antoni said, "Nowhere did I see anything about breast implants/augmentation, nor is it the plan for this to be promoted within this sponsorship." (Read more chess stories.)

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