Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Rice has been the target of serious backlash after posting a photo of her in a bathing suit online made by designer Ellie Gonsalve. Many have said it is a national disgrace to her homeland of Australia and her former sponsor, Speedo. Should she have known better than to post the photo?
Rice, who won three gold medals in the 2008 Olympic games, became a controversial figure for Australia after posting a racy photo of her dressed as a policewoman surfaced on Facebook. Some have criticized her lack of judgment and need for the spotlight.
"It may have landed her in hot water in the past," wrote Amy Harris of The Daily Telegraph, "but it seems the lure of social networking is just too strong for full-time swimmer and part-time poseur Stephanie Rice. The Olympian has shared yet another racy image- this time in her birthday suit. Well sort of."
"I feel that Stephanie Rice posting a photo of herself in swimwear has brought disgrace to the Australian swim team and she should be dropped," tweeted Mendy Menendez.
However, others have made the argument that seeing Rice in her bathing suit is nothing new and akin to seeing one in his or her uniform. After all, Rice is a swimmer, and swimmers wear bathing suits.
"Why's everyone mad at Stephanie Rice in a bikini? That's like her work uniform. That's all you really see her in; that's like casual Friday," noted BriggsGE.
According to her website, Rice "is one of Australia's most successful Olympians and one of the most recognized athletes in the country. Her success at the 2008 Beijing Olympics- winning three gold medals and breaking three world records- launched her into the stratosphere of sporting celebrity, creating a level of interest rarely seen before from the media, sponsors and the public."
Knowing that she is an international superstar is precisely what some are criticizing the swimsuit photo for. Should she have known better than to post the image, knowing the amount of publicity and influence she has? Other celebs have been critiqued for posing for risqué behavior. United States soccer champion Brandi Chastain was made famous for whipping off her jersey and baring her bra after a victory.
"Momentary insanity, nothing more, nothing less," Chastain later said of the incident. "I wasn't thinking about anything. I thought, 'This is the greatest of my life on the soccer field.'"
Rice, however, deliberately took the photo, then posted it to her website. She cannot plead "momentary insanity" in the heat of the moment as Chastain did. It's something worth considering, as social sites such as Twitter and Facebook become more popular and used to follow stars.