Do Men Wear Leotards In Gymnastics? The Rio Games Aren't The Only Place You'll See Singlets In Action

It's easy to be distracted by the female Olympic gymnast uniform, covered as it is in sparkly crystals. Do men wear leotards in gymnastics, too? Absolutely they do, albeit less bejeweled ones. In fact, the male leotard forms the foundation of the male gymnastics uniform (at least it does during actual competitions).

Contrary to appearances, the long pants male gymnastics outfit is not a onesie or footed pajama type of thing. Rather, it is simply a well-fitting leotard, stirrup pants, and coordinating socks stacked together. For gymnastics events that require more running about, the male gymnasts wear their leotards under short athletic shorts. From this observation, it's reasonable to assume that the long stirrup pant provides a visually more streamlined appearance, but may cause drag or foot slippage on mats.

Word on the street, according to Cosmopolitan, is that male gymnasts prefer to call their leotards "competition shirts." And they only where them during competitions, typically not during practices, when they wear just competition shorts. The American male gymnasts do want to be objectified, perhaps by competing shirtless, but no changes to the Olympic dress code seem to be in the works. It's not impossible, though — after all, women's gymnastics uniforms have changed greatly over the years.

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I went digging in the rules for FIG, the international governing body for gymnastics, to see what it has to say about male gymnastic attire. Various references to gymnastics attire in other regulations documents redirect the reader to a set of rules for how advertisements may be displayed on gymnastics attire. These advertisement rules for male gymnasts do mention "the singlet or shorts or pants," suggesting that these are very obviously the only things a male gymnast can or should wear for competition. There's no need to mess with what works.

Is the male gymnastics leotard a singlet, then? A leotard, according to Merriam-Webster, is simply "a piece of clothing that fits tightly and covers the body except for the legs and sometimes the arms." And, although Merriam-Webster defines "singlet" as "a shirt that has no sleeves or collar and that is worn for playing sports," "singlet" seems most commonly used to refer to male wrestling garments, which while sleeveless and collarless also have shorts built in. So both male gymnastics and wrestling garments are technically only sort of "singlets," but they both definitely count as "leotards." Or, uh, "competition shirts." Got it? Great.

Can't get enough of men in tight one-pieces, whatever they're called? Weightlifters also wear such items, and they're possibly even more frontless too. In fact some of those weightlifting leotards are much closer to elasticized suspenders than full-coverage bodysuits, yum. Sadly, male dancers and ice skaters are not as in love with the simple leotard as their female counterparts (and the sexist history of the leotard might explain this), but we can always dream.

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Images: Giphy (2)