Grid girls are models used to conduct certain promotional tasks, usually wearing clothing that bears the name of a sponsor. Their duties in F1 included holding umbrellas or driver name-boards on the grid and lining the corridor through which the drivers walk on their way to the podium.
The recent decision to no longer use grid girls was a step in changing Formula1’s image, since the announcement the feedback has been met with positivity and negativity. Main supporters of Formula1 feel it’s a betrayal of the Formula1 legacy and others feel it’s the correct step towards ensuring females are not sexualized for the purposes of entertainment.
But how does the recent decision of Formula1 to scrap grid girls, actually change the concept of how women are betrayed in the media. It seems that rather than addressing an issue or being the pioneers in a new movement, Formula1 has decided to take a bow and leave it to someone else. After all, it seems that the grid girls were an integral part of the Formula1 experience. These girls or should I say, women, understood everything about Formula1, they could talk about the cars, the drivers and welcomed VIP guests. Now, what happens to that job? Because surely this is still needed, what happens to their knowledge does it get forgotten and go to waste.
Critics have said that grid girls in Formula1 encouraged girls to be scantily dressed and be over sexual, but from what I’ve seen and read that’s far from the truth. Yes, I can see from the beginning there was exploitation maybe as PR stunts or to get into newspapers before the rise of social media, however, you can clearly see the changes that have happened and that this role has evolved to more than just a sex symbol. When you see have naked 6 pack muscle men at private parties or on TV, there’s no uproar of how they’re being exploited for the women’s audience. If you truly believe in equality, surely everyone should have the choice to decide what they want to do and what they don’t.
I fear that Formula1 will replace these women with men, which will just cause more of a backlash. In a modern-day society where freedom of choice should override anything else, if Formula1 wanted to change its image or the perception of grid girls, there should have been a series of Q&A with them. Allowing people to see their intelligence and knowledge of the industry, showcasing them as an integral role in the business and that they are not just for show. Just simply taking away the role or no longer using them at races doesn’t solve anything, it just shows that these brands are not willing to re-vamp or re-visit of how they can make it better.
I hope that other brands that do promote women in bikinis and other forms of attire that sexualize them take note, this is your time to change and evolve. Promote your women, give them choices, evolve with them and with society, don’t just dip out of the conversation take part and be part of the change that is now happening.
Till next time…