Pantyhose in SportsWhile the shiny, smooth and glossy texture of pantyhose is usually considered a good fit for a hot dress or an outfit you wear when you dress for some out-of-the-ordinary event, it is used in sports by female athletes too. Because of their primarily visual nature, it doesn't come as a surprise that pantyhose are used in highly visual sports, where the protagonists' legs are on display. What other reasons are there for the use of tights in sports? The obvious toning benefits are also part of the equation and so are the smoothing and slimming effects that some pantyhose variants exert on the wearer's legs.
Figure skating is one sport where the female contestants almost always wear tights of some kind. In this instance, the thermal insulating effect of nylons comes into the picture as well. While the temperature in the arenas where figure skating events are held isn't generally that low, close to the surface of the ice, the situation changes radically. Since most ladies wear dresses with short skirts, pantyhose represent an obvious choice when it comes to protecting their legs. Showing up bare legged isn't exactly an option and falling down onto the ice without any sort of protection can't be an uplifting experience either. Due to the nature of the sport and to the environment where competitions are held, figure-skating tights tend to be thicker and less transparent. On top of all their other benefits, pantyhose are also meant to keep the tight leotards the ladies wear, from riding up during their routines.
Dancing is definitely one sport (the kind of dancing which can be considered a sport of course) where pantyhose have become an etiquette thing. Go into a serious dance studio and count how many girls you find going through their routines in leotards and with no hosiery on. Chances are there won't be many. Dancing pantyhose are generally matte and they tend to have a whitish tint although other colors (like toast and pink) are used as well. Some girls opt for shiny hose but the general consensus seems to be on matte and white. In dancing, the primary reason for pantyhose is probably modesty. Hose keep the wardrobe in check at all times and they reduce chaffing while improving the overall appearance of the dancer's legs too.
Rhytmic gymnastics is another sport where pantyhose are relatively common. These pantyhose tend to be of the footless style though, as the footwear that the competitors have to don doesn't quite go with conventional hose. The common ground in women's sports where pantyhose are worn seems to be the leotard. Leotards tend to be somewhat cumbersome through their nature, and pantyhose are obviously meant to help keep them under control. Although pantyhose and tights aren't exactly wide-spread in regular gymnastics, from the way the girls seem to tug and pick at their wedgies, one can tell nylons would be a more than welcome addition there as well. Some girls do seem to wear pantyhose for training, although I'm not sure they're allowed to wear them in competitions.
Pantyhose used in rhythmic gymnastics tend to be matte as well, and some of them feature various decorations not normally found on regular hose.
Fitness and aerobics are the domains of the shiny pantyhose. Fitness competitors wear hose under their leotards to keep it from riding up of course, but thanks to their high sheen, these pantyhose are also used to accentuate the visual effect that the competitor generates on the stage. Because fitness is a sport where the judges' subjective opinions are decisive in determining the outcome, making as good a visual impression as possible is of utmost importance for the competitor. The tights are also meant to tone and to smoothen curves, accentuating them where needed and disguising them in other places.
In aerobics, tights are also meant to improve circulation and general muscle tone in the legs, lending workout sessions a bigger punch.
Ladies' wrestling is another sport where pantyhose are widely used. Back in the 80s, one couldn't really find a female wrestler without the telltale sheen of pantyhose glistening on her legs. Nowadays, while they're no longer as main-stream as they used to be, pantyhose are still worn by many female competitors. Pantyhose are mostly worn by professional wrestlers, but amateur lady wrestlers use them too in their bouts. Here too, nylons serve a double purpose. They keep the wearer's legs toned and safe from mat-burn. They also keep leotards from riding up. One shouldn't forget that female wrestling is a highly visual sport, and the common attitude of individual wrestlers is the "I can beat you and look awesome doing it" attitude, which kind of comes with the turf in this sport. Thus, pantyhose obviously have a visual role in ladies wrestling too, which explains why most of the time female wrestlers wear extremely shiny styles.
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