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Rio 2016: Fashion Calgary apologizes for Caster Semenya, Margaret Wambui tweet

Rio 2016: Fashion Calgary apologizes for Caster Semenya, Margaret Wambui tweet - image

Fashion Calgary apologized Thursday evening for a tweet about a Rio Olympics event that was posted on its account.

The tweet with the words, “Am I still watching Women’s Semi-finals ???” included photos of Kenyan athlete Margaret Wambui and South African athlete Caster Semenya during the women’s 800-metre race.

Fashion Calgary deleted the tweet and stated in a new post, “We would like to apologize (to) everyone who was offended by our post.”

The organization went on to say they will “make responsible the person who posted it.”

When asked if anyone from the organization was available for an interview Friday, Fashion Calgary sent the following email to Global News:

“Fashion Calgary would like to apologize [to] everyone who felt hurt and offended by the posts sharing thoughts about Caster Semenya and her participaction (sic) in Olympic Games Rio 2016. The issue of human rights is one of the most fundamental human issues and also one of the most sensitive and controversial.”
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The Fashion Calgary account has more than 12,000 followers. The website says its founder is Ania Basak, a “European professional makeup artist and fashion stylist” who worked as a “beauty ambassador for Armani and Guerlain Paris.”

A University of Calgary psychologist who specializes in body image said the tweet is one of many examples of “sexist, gendered body shaming-type acts” that have targeted female Olympic athletes at Rio 2016.

“We need to deal with the idea that females—regardless of what they’re doing—should not be valued or judged purely on their appearance,” professor Shelly Russell-Mayhew said. “Particularly when we’re talking about female athletes at such an elite level; their appearance should be a nonstarter.”

Russell-Mayhew said body shaming can increase rates of depression, anxiety and even suicide. She suggested the outrage over the inappropriateness of the tweet was a positive sign.

“Sometimes these behaviours become so normative we don’t even realize that the comments we’re making are [saying]: ‘the most important thing about a woman is the way she looks.’

“So whenever we see something like that – I think it’s great people are standing up against that,” she said.

It was unclear whether the author of the Fashion Calgary tweet was aware Semenya had been at the centre of a gender verification controversy in the past.

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The runner was ordered to undergo sex tests after winning the 800-metre world title in 2009. She was eventually cleared to compete by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and won silver in the 800-metre at the 2012 London Olympics.

READ MORE: Transgender athletes can take part in Olympics without surgery, IOC ruling

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) used to conduct gender verification tests at the Olympics, but those chromosome-based screenings were dropped before the 2000 Sydney Games because they were deemed unscientific and unethical.

Reaction to the post was swift on social media.

With files from The Associated Press

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