Olympics, Knitting and Mascara

June 26th, 2012 by Karen

I like yarn. Let me rephrase that…I love yarn. I learned to crochet when I was very little, helped my grandma card and spin wool from her sheep into yarn, and then more recently, I re-learned how to knit. I’m proud that I’m adept at what is increasingly a lost art and that the women in my family found it an important enough skill to pass on to me. I have taught my eldest to crochet (she’s very good) and my youngest has mastered the daisy chain, though her attention wanders too much still to remember how to turn. I’m also a happy member of the Ravelry.com community.

I am very disappointed in the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) as well as the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) for their recent deplorable treatment of knitters, crocheters and fiber artists at large.

The LOCOG partnered with Woolsack.org for a London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Inspire Project. Their neat project allowed anyone to contribute by making a cushion from British wool to be given as a personal welcome gift from the people of Britain to as many as possible of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic athletes. And then LOCOG backed out of the distribution plans AND the reason they gave for the scrapped plans for a distribution booth in the Olympic Village Plaza was that the space would be used instead for PAYING SPONSORS. Luckily, the fine folks at Woolsack have found a way to distribute some of the 5000 already handmade cushions (which weren’t free to make btw) directly to athletes and they’re working hard to get the rest out.

The USOC recently sent a lovely cease and desist letter to Ravelry due to the ‘Ravelympics’, a fun event that pits knitters and crocheters against the clock in various tests of skill. (Imagine knitting an entire adult sized sweater in a matter of weeks…when normally it can take months.) It’s a test of endurance, skill, and perseverance. Sound familiar? In any case, the letter and subsequent lack-luster apology has folks in a knot because of two things:

From the original letter:

“The USOC is responsible for preserving the Olympic Movement and its ideals within the United States. Part of that responsibility is to ensure that Olympic trademarks, imagery and terminology are protected and given the appropriate respect. We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”

From the apology:

“The letter sent to the organizers of the Ravelympics was a standard-form cease and desist letter that explained why we need to protect our trademarks in legal terms. Rest assured, as an organization that has many passionate knitters, we never intended to make this a personal attack on the knitting community or to suggest that knitters are not supportive of Team USA.

We apologize for any insult and appreciate your support. We embrace hand-crafted American goods as we currently have the Annin Flagmakers of New Jersey stitching a custom-made American flag to accompany our team to the Olympic Games in London. To show our support of the Ravelry community, we would welcome any handmade items that you would like to create to travel with, and motivate, our team at the 2012 Games.

(All italics are mine.)

In plain non-lawyer speak:
“Take down your stuff because it insults us.” and “Oh, we’re -really- sorry. It was a standard letter. Srsly. They all include stuff about knitting. Give us free stuff.”

Cast off, USOC. Yarn is expensive and my time is worth even more. My projects are handmade with love, for people or causes I care about (such as Operation Gratitude and Project Linus) not for snotty, selfish, sniveling companies that hide behind pieces of paper. I would be -happy- to give something to a Team USA athlete…they work hard, strive to always improve their skills, and are DESERVING. You, however, are not.

To top it all off (and the reason that I’m writing this and not just grumbling about it over my latest amigurumi) is that YOU are insulting to women athletes and that -really- took the cake. Here you are, complaining about how a 2 million strong group on a social media site (not to mention a large portion of the more than 50 million of us in the US alone) is “denigrating” and “disrespecting” your brand and you turn right around and take money from P&G to promote “COVERGIRL Olympic Games Limited-Edition Packaging” for mascara and lipstick.

Sorry, but implying that a woman athlete needs to have makeup on to be “strong” and “beautiful” is complete and utter bunk and you should be ashamed of your behavior. The women in this ad ARE strong and beautiful, but that’s because they worked their butts off EVERY DAY for YEARS to be the best they could be.

You are NOT about the hard work.

You are simply another money-grubbing corporate entity with no grasp of who actually sits on the couch and watches your sponsors’ ads while we knit and crochet and I refuse to buy anything with the Olympic Rings on it, despite being a loyal 20+ year customer of CoverGirl mascara.

Time for me to find a new brand.

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