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What does a female athlete look like?
She has rippling muscles. She is as light as a gazelle. She is petite. She is husky. She can run for miles, lift hundreds of pounds, explode off a starting block, twirl in the air. She is beautiful.
In 1994, journalist Jane Gottesman began trying to answer that question her own way. She contacted newspapers, college archives, sports magazines and museums, asking for pictures of women participating in sports. The results of her search go on display today through Jan. 2 at the Smithsonian Institution. The exhibition, entitled "Game Face," includes 139 photographs of sportswomen from legendary athletes to the girl next door.
Some images - like that of soccer player Brandi Chastain after she ripped her shirt off in triumph at the 1999 Women's World Cup - are instantly recognizable. Others, equally joyous, are far less familiar. One, titled "Gallaudet's Victory," was taken by Karen Fuchs in 1999. It shows the women's basketball team from the college for the deaf spelling "victory" in sign language.
Inspired by the exhibit, The Sun's photography staff went in search of its own "game faces" among women athletes in Maryland.
So what does a woman athlete look like? Like 29-year-old race car driver Kelly Sutton of Crownsville, who last spring overcame multiple sclerosis to compete in a NASCAR series at the Daytona International Speedway. Or like 81-year-old swimmer Doris Russell of Ellicott City, who in April broke a record in the butterfly at a national competition. Or like T-ball slugger Julie Smith of the Joppatowne Mariners.
What does a woman athlete look like?
Look and see.
- Holly Selby
"Game Face: What Does A Woman Athlete Look Like?" opens today and runs through Jan. 2 at the Smithsonian Institution's Arts and Industries Building, 900 Jefferson Drive S.W., in Washington. Exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Call: 202-357-2700.