I can’t believe Formula 1 got rid of grid girls

HALLELUJAH! Grid girls will drop of the grid as of the 2018 season.

Let me preface this blog post by saying, if you believe that in 2018 women dressed in goodness knows what, in front of cars FOR NO SPECIFIC REASON, is a must have in Formula 1 you can leave this blog post now.

It turns out that a lot of people may have just clicked off my blog because, as of 21:45 on January 31st, according to Sky F1’s poll 52% of the 35,935 people that had voted believed F1 made the wrong decision in dropping them.

Now, you are entitled to your opinion but… really? Are scantily clad women such an integral part of Formula 1? I don’t think so and here’s why F1 made the correct decision in dropping them.

Let’s start with the statement Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations at Formula 1 said:

“While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms. We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”

“Modern day societal norms”, what a beautiful thing to hear in Formula 1, it seems that finally a sport so rich in history has begun to align itself with the present. And, he’s right.

Grid girls first graced the grid decades ago, when women were constantly judged on appearance, when they didn’t have as much of a voice, a time when nobody batted an eye when women were objectified.

In fact, I’d go as far to say that grid girls are the epitome of objectification. It was 2014 when I first realised how real this problem truly was. I was walking the grid at the final race of the 2014 BTCC and next to me were two, I’d say, middle aged men.

What I overheard has sat with me ever since that day. At 17 years old I had lived anything but a sheltered life but what I heard still shocked me.

We were stood to the side of Jack Goff’s car with his grid girl directly parallel to us and one of the men turned to the other and said: “Look at her, I’d f*** her.”

They then went on to talk about other girls and how some of them were too fat to be grid girls, which they weren’t!

If I’m being real, that was hard to hear. At 17 I was becoming a young woman, I was judging myself and all those grid girls were smaller than me but they were “too fat”.

Which brings me on to my next point, Formula 1 is trying to attract a younger audience, both male and female. If you are putting women with tiny waists who are sometimes half dressed on display for all to see, what does that say about the type of women in Formula 1?

There are so many women in F1 but they are behind the scenes, beavering away working their socks off. Yet what young girls see is an archaic tradition, one that represents a time when the only women in F1 were grid girls. If I were to have a daughter I wouldn’t want her seeing that.

(Not to say that there’s anything wrong with having a tiny waist, lord knows I run, do sit ups and all that stuff to obtain a small waist, but I don’t want that to be what represents women in this male dominated sport.)

I also understand that there are women out there who are grid girls and love their jobs and to you I say, I don’t want to take away your job, I want to put an end to what your job has stood for.

I’ve seen tweets saying this is “feminism gone mad” and “feminism is taking jobs away from women”. To those tweeting that I invite you to read the Oxford dictionary definition of feminism because if anything feminism would want to bring back those grid boys from Monaco.

Don’t be mad at women for the end of grid girls, that makes no sense. There are women who are for and against grid girls, there are men who are for and against grid girls.

Everyone has their opinion and their reasons. Personally, I think it’s time that women in F1 were known for more than just standing in front of a car or handing a driver their cap.

Another reason that getting rid of grid girls was the correct decision? To put an end to articles like this: ‘Your sexiest grid girl for November 2013 revealed’. People voted on the “sexiest” grid girl for each month and yes this is from 2013, which I appreciate is five years ago, but it happened, that is on the internet.

I cannot believe how far Formula 1 has come in just one year of new ownership. This decision to get rid of grid girls would never have happened in the ‘Ecclestone Era’.

Formula 1 was held back by a man who said: “[Women] should wear white, like a domestic appliance, and they shouldn’t be allowed out. You don’t take the washing machine out of the house, do you?” (It’s a miracle they got as far as the track to be honest).

Liberty Media have taken Formula 1 by its shoulders and shaken it up, they’ve slapped it in the face and made it wake up. Women belong wherever they want to belong.

And to those 52% of voters in that Sky F1 poll, I ask you this: What do you go to football matches to watch? What do you go to rugby matches to watch? What do you go to Grand Prix weekend to watch?

Your answer should be, football, rugby, racing. If that is the case why are you so upset that grid girls are leaving the sport? If anything you should be rejoicing, Formula 1 is becoming wholly about racing, none of that pomp and ceremony.

You should be proud that you support a sport that is taking a step to respect women, that is taking a step to readdress the balance, that is taking a step to empower young girls who dream of a role in Formula 1.

So now you’ve read my thoughts on grid girls I’d love to know yours, there’ll be a poll over on my twitter which will be up for 48 hours or you can comment on here or on my Facebook post.

Photo credit: motorsport.com
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