Goodbye Grid Girls
It's the first thing I've seen in the headlines recently that isn't Brexit or one of the Kardashians having a baby.
It’s the first thing I’ve seen in the headlines recently that isn’t Brexit or one of the Kardashians having a baby. Formula 1 will not use grid girls in the next season. As you can imagine, this was a topic that smashed through my writer’s block. Funnily enough, there is a 6 month old article sitting in my drafts that describes how much I dislike grid girls. I thought the concept was sexist, outdated and degrading, and I thought most people would agree with me. I was very wrong and people are furious.
Now, I’m in two minds about this – the concept of grid girls objectifies women and prevents younger girls from aspiring to be anything else in Formula 1. But also, women have the right to do and be whatever they may choose including being a grid girl. Feminism is fighting for a woman’s right to choose and by banning grid girls, we are taking away that choice of employment. Many former grid girls have stepped forward and expressed their anger and disappointment towards this change. ‘I loved being a grid girl’, ‘it was my choice to be a grid girl’, ‘now I am out of a job’.
I’m trying to write this article without saying ‘why would you ever want to be a grid girl?!’ because I’m sure there are positive aspects to a career that does not exercise much intelligence. My only question is, if grid girls are not degrading, then why are there no grid men? I agree with Niki Lauda - let’s get grid boys out there too. Why do we not have the David Gandy type walking around on the track in tight jeans and an open white shirt holding a number? Because that is not what men want to gawk at and save in the memory bank for a later date. That’s not what James Hunt wanted to take out for drinks after a race. Why do we listen to what the men want? Because motorsport is a man’s world. Why? Because there aren’t any women, and if women do make an appearance on the television, they are in latex holding numbers rather than in the pits or behind the wheel. When girls watch a Formula 1 race, how can we blame them for thinking that being a grid girl is the only role for them? Even when we do say ‘honey there are plenty of jobs for you in motorsport!’ We direct them towards the advertising department and away from Silverstone. Aren’t we trying to encourage 16 year old girls to study STEM subjects at school? What about the girls that grow up wanting to be engineers or, god forbid, drivers? It’s almost as if their role in motorsport has already been picked out for them. Whether this is actually the case or not, it sure seems that way if you watch F1 on the TV.
I know not all men tune into Formula 1 on a Sunday just to get a glimpse of some grid girl ass, and I’m sure (in fact, I know) many readers will dub me as feminist shrew. I could just get more on board with grid girls if men were there too. Start a race with beautiful people, both men and women (if we really must promote the theory that ‘pretty people sell’). There’s something so unsettling to me about an event with thousands of men participating and watching and only 15 women involved, and they’re all on the track in heels. I’m sure many women are content with this, and I’m sure many find it flattering. Each to their own.
Perhaps we will have grid people - beautiful models from all over the country whose job is to stand and look aesthetically pleasing. Or perhaps the tradition will be wiped out permanently. The F1 track’s managing director told the BBC that grid girls are an “outdated practice that no longer has a place in the sport” which I completely agree with. Bernie Ecclestone, however, said that “the drivers like them, the audience likes them, no one cares.” Formula 1 has gone through many changes and embarked on new beginnings in the last 3 years, including the removal of Bernie Ecclestone and grid girls. Both outdated, and no longer have a place in the sport.