Kukla says watch this! The Invisible Athlete

by Rebecca Kukla

This advertisement for Everlast boxing and athletic gear features (in a tricky sense of ‘features,’ as you’ll see!) the trainer I am working with while I am in New York this year, multiple-time world champion boxer Alicia ‘Slick’ Ashley. I am normally pretty unmoved by commercials, at least at a conscious level, but I admit this ad makes me noticeably more interested in buying their products.

The ad finds an incredibly aesthetically gripping and politically powerful way of driving home the point that women athletes don’t get anything like their fair share of media coverage. We all know that women’s sports get short shrift, but this ad takes that abstract fact and finds a way of creating visual poetry out of it that made me tear up.

One thing you can’t tell from the ad – and I love it even more for not treating this as noteworthy enough to even mention – is that Alicia is 50 YEARS OLD. Yes, you read that right. The ad is a punch in the face to the glorification of young male bodies that dominates commodified sports culture.

Rebecca Kukla is Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University, and also a graduate student in urban geography at CUNY-Hunter College. She is a competitive boxer and powerlifter, a dedicated bike commuter, and a runner of wildly varying enthusiasm. She lives in Washington, DC with a passel of excellent human and non-human animals.