British athletes are featured nude, while performing their various sports, in a new advertisement for Powerade ("the official sports drink of the Beijing Games"), the Mail reports. Ah, the naked-athlete photo spread—an Olympic ritual! Should athletes be shown nude?Missteps in the history of naked athletes include the increasingly pornographic, cheesecake Dieux du Stade calendars, which featured French rugby players, the negative Nazi associations behind the imagery of German filmmaker Leni Riefenstal's Olympia, Playboy's "Women of the 2004 Olympics," and vaguely (only vaguely!) humiliating photos like this one: (That's soccer star Brandi Chastain, known for stripping down to (gasp!) her sports bra after winning the World Cup, an celebratory move of pure joy that was dutifully sexualized.)
Regarding the new Powerade advertisements (shot by Nadav Kander) then: you'd think that the marriage of athletic nakedness with modern consumer advertising would be utterly nauseating, but the photos (above and below) are quite remarkable, once you get past the crassness of all this art being used to sell a sports drink. Hardly sexualized, they're a celebration of the human body in peak condition, and in all its colors. So should athletes be shown naked? Of course! Remember, the first Olympics were performed nude.