Russian Olympic Committee Shames 16-Year-Old Gymnast for Wearing a Feminist T-Shirt — Then Retracts

Russian Olympic gymnast Angelina Romanovna Melnikova recently shared a number of images on her Instagram account that delivered a strong but simple message.

Russian Olympic gymnast Angelina Romanovna Melnikova recently shared a message on feminism on social media. (Photo: Instagram/gelyamelnikova)

In the photos, the 16-year-old athlete posed while wearing a white T-shirt with “Everybody Should Be Feminist” — a knockoff version of Dior’s “We Should All Be Feminists” tee — written across the front in a graphic font.

While her posts were met with thousands of likes, the Russian Olympic Committee didn’t seem to appreciate the declaration.

In a since-deleted tweet — that many Twitter users managed to capture — the ROC attached screenshots of the four photos that Melnikova posted and wrote, “Maybe a feminist, but beautiful and talented.”

Many considered the tweet offensive and sexist considering the wording insinuates that a feminist — someone who supports the equality of the sexes — cannot be “beautiful” or “talented.” Perhaps taking this feedback into consideration, the committee later tweeted the same images with a different tone.

Yes, a feminist! Beautiful and talented!” the new post read. The organization also released an official apology on the original tweet.

The apology translates to, “The official twitter account of the Russian Olympic Committee apologizes to everyone whose feelings were affected by the post about feminism.”

Despite the about-face, Melnikova has distanced herself from feminism since sharing the images and the subsequent backlash. In response to one user questioning the T-shirt in the comments of one post, she replied that she is not a feminist. She even shared an Instagram story a few days after posting the original photo shoot — wearing the same shirt — once again denying that she is a feminist.


Photo:  gelyamelnikova/Instagram

The text in the photo loosely translates to, “Please calm down” — which is likely referring to the considerable amount of exposure her posts have gotten — and “I’m not a feminist.”

The backtracking could be due to that fact that many view the word with negative connotations in Russian culture, or simply the 16-year-old gymnast’s preference.

Yahoo Style has reached out to Melnikova and the ROC for comment and will update when we hear back.

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