Monday, February 20, 2017

COMMENTARY: Exploitation Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

The Monster Energy girls made their debut in NASCAR Victory Lane Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, and some folks aren’t exactly happy about it.

Winner Joey Logano had barely finished spraying his celebratory champagne after winning the season-opening Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona before the internet exploded with reviews – both positive and negative – of the Monster girls’ all-black, form-fitting attire.

“I can't believe the sanctioning body stooped that low,” said one indignant Facebook poster. “This is family friendly? Boobs and leather? I know a lot of people who would not take their families if sights like this become the norm.

NASCAR has (always) had beautiful women,” she continued. “But this is just downright SLUTTY!!!! As slutty as it gets.”

“Are we going for (the) porn star look?” asked another fan. “Leather bustier, Really?”

Daytona's Monster Energy girls
Yesterday’s Monster Energy girl outfits were admittedly more revealing than those of their “Miss Sprint Cup” predecessors, who wore stylized fire suits during Nextel/Sprint’s decade-plus run as NASCAR’s top entitlement sponsor. Monster Energy is a hipper, edgier brand, tailored to appeal to a younger audience. As such, it was expected that their Victory Lane representation might be a bit more… provocative.
The Monster Energy girls wore full-length black leggings Sunday at Daytona, with high-top boots and open-shoulder leather tops. No bare midriffs, no short-shorts, no thong bikinis.

As one Tweeter remarked, “I’ve seen more cleavage at Wal-Mart.”

Sunday’s Victory Lane attire was – in this writer’s personal opinion -- far from “slutty.” In fact, it was less provocative than many of the outfits parading outside my hotel balcony today on The World’s Most Famous Beach. But my opinion doesn’t matter all that much, since what is acceptable to one observer is “slutty” to another.

“The problem is that the ladies worked so hard to be reps for NASCAR and are being relegated to eye candy again,” said one fan via Twitter.

Linda Vaughn set a high bar.
That point of view is valid, but it is also somewhat lacking in historical perspective.

Since the earliest days of the sport, trophy queens have been part of the NASCAR experience. Since being named "Miss Queen of Speed” at Atlanta International Raceway" in 1961, Linda Vaughn has graced Victory Lanes at motorsports events around the globe. Now a youthful 73 years of age, the universally acknowledged “Queen of the Trophy Queens” remains a familiar sight in the NASCAR garage. From the outset, Vaughn was more than just a pretty face. She was (and still is) an intelligent, knowledgeable authority on motorsports who knows more about the machinery being raced than many of the men racing them.

Today’s Monster Energy Girls – like Linda Vaughn before them – are more than just pretty faces. And they do not deserve the “slutty” tag so flippantly bestowed upon them by some observers.

Lady Gaga: demeaning?
I recall no outrage two weeks ago when Lady Gaga showed up for work at halftime of the Super Bowl in an outfit far skimpier than those worn by the Minster Energy girls at Daytona Sunday. No one seemed offended by her choice of apparel, and many jumped to her defense (rightfully) when a small band of internet trolls criticized her for sporting six-pack abs that were not well enough defined for their taste.

Virtually every professional sport has cheerleaders on the sideline, complete with outfits skimpy enough to make the Monster Energy girls look downright overdressed.

Was Lady Gaga being “exploited” at Super Bowl L1? Was the presence of scantily clad cheerleaders demeaning to women and young girls? And if not, how can that possibly be the case for the Monster Energy girls?

There are a million different opinions on this topic; none of them any more (or less) valid than the others.

And that, my friends, is the problem.

From bikini to burka, there are lots of options out there. And with such a wide variance of opinion in terms of what people find acceptable, who gets to decide what is “too much” when it comes to Victory Lane attire?

In the end, Monster Energy does, along with the young ladies who don their chosen attire on Sunday afternoons. And that, unfortunately, leads to a certain degree of indignance among the fan base.

I am the proud father of two adult daughters. And as such, I have always encouraged them to be whatever they wanted to be in life. Doctor, lawyer, teacher, firefighter… or Monster Energy girl. The choice should be theirs, and theirs alone.

If we truly believe in the empowerment of women, we cannot have it any other way.

Make your own decisions, live and let live. It’s what we do in 2017.


  1. Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!

  2. Mike K3:38 PM

    Well said Dave Moody. The Ladies chose to be there and agreed to the outfit. Perhaps Monster Energy may choose to have a couple of Monster Dudes in similar attire, so that it may not be perceived as Sexist.

    1. I vote Dave Moody for Monster Energy Dude!

  3. The First Amendment gives each of us the right to our own view. Personally I have never had a hard time looking a pretty woman. Also, and I am showing my age, I remember when the winner of a race got a kiss from a good looking woman in Victory Circle.

  4. I think you hit the nail on the head,Dave. We are very used to the Miss Sprint Cup ladies in very different attire. In part, that was part of the family-friendlier atmosphere NASCAR was trying to cultivate. So, yes, it is definitely a shock to the senses to see boobs front and center again.

    You bemoan the lack of younger fans, but I have to question whether I'm going to take my young daughters to a race where the sponsor is providing less sporty, more provocative "eye candy" trophy girls. And yes, I feel that way about football cheerleaders as well.

    I do think it is disingenous to bring up the trophy girls from decades ago. I would like to think that the advances the sport has made in regards to women in different roles in the sport had gotten us past that. Women are no longer relegated to being a pair of boobs on the sidelines. :)

    Regardless, I do go to the race to watch the race. My girls like to go (ages 2 & 4), so perhaps we will still bring them with us when we go, albeit with some extra explaining. But as a consumer of the sport I do have a voice. As a consumer I can choose to not purchase the product they are selling, even as I make conscious efforts to support other sponsors.

    Thank you for all you do, Dave! Long-time fan.

    1. I believe Mr. Moody introduced Ms. Vaughn specifically to note that she was not just a "pair of boobs on the sidelines."

      Thanks for putting her back in her place.

  5. Dave, you and I are old enough to remember the women in victory lane, what they wore. The Monster Energy women are just a faux throwback to them, more of an homage.

  6. I seriously thought the complainers were being sarcastic, of course I still have my Farah Faucet poster. You know, the one the same people complaining said "if you squint your eyes in the right light, you can read SEX in her hair".

  7. Thank you Dave! Any more these days people feel it is ok to instill personal opinions on everybody else and in spite of what anybody else thinks about the same thing! If they don't like something go do something that doesn't upset you! And leave the rest of us who like it to take it for what it is intended to be in spite of your sheltered personal opinion, in other words, keep your opinions to yourselves! And oh-by-the way, save your eyes and stay off our beaches!

  8. Anonymous5:18 PM

    Has anyone checked out their local Hooters lately

  9. Great job always

  10. I just don't get this world anymore.. So sad.

  11. I think it's fine. No different then the NFL Cheerleaders..

  12. It isn't so much exploitation of those ladies as it is wondering if this is the image that the family-oriented NASCAR wants to project. And....they forgot their whips.

  13. Anonymous7:15 PM

    These people need to go to their local high school and look at the girls there. These women have more clothes on . They are of age. Go look get real !!

  14. OMG god! Bare shoulders, be still my beating heart. Sarcasm font enabled of course.

  15. Looks exactly like what I would have worn at their age.

  16. Where were these people when America's Sweethearts were at Texas Motor Speedway? No outrage there? There are truly more things to be upset about in this world. #leaveyourbubble

  17. Well said Dave, I was actually expecting with Monster and the younger crowd they are trying to target that the outfits had that much material, was expecting MUCH less

  18. It seems in our society everybody has to have something to bitch about. Life is about choices and it appears these young women have made their's of their own free will. More power to them!

  19. They're wearing about as much as Texas Motors Speedway's Great American Sweethearts. Their corsets are strapless and are much shorter, with skin showing between the bottom of the corset and the oversized belt buckles they wear.

  20. "Exploitation Is In The Eye Of The Beholder" Very true and it's highly unlikely that the women were forced to wear the outfits.

    "Monster Energy is a hipper, edgier brand, tailored to appeal to a younger audience." If that younger audience is men or women who are primarily attracted to fit women with cleavage, it would make perfect sense for NASCAR to be ok with the women dressed in a way to attract that population.

    The comparison of the Monster girls to Lady Gaga seems irrelevant since I believe most are used to similar style apparel from half-time performers. The dress of the Monster girls seems to be something new; not sure when the last time there has been anyone dressed similar to Ms. Vaughan at NASCAR but it seems like it's been decades. Was Ms. Vaughan a cheer leader? are the women representing the Monster brand cheer leaders or models? If they are cheer leaders I agree that they are dressed for the occasion and appropriately again if trying to appeal to men or women who prefer to see women in sexy outfits.

  21. Anonymous2:17 AM

    I think they are smokin hot!!!! I have absolutely no problem with their attire!!

  22. Thank you Dave! I couldn't have said it better myself! Who are we to judge others?

  23. Anonymous10:32 AM

    NASCAR has tried to be 'family-friendly' for the past decade with the result being decreased viewership on TV, fewer people attending the races, and a vanilla product on the track. If you want to increase attendance, a pretty woman is always a better choice than circus clowns.

    With that family friendly sort of entertainment went the sponsorships of the whisky industry and the pushing of beer sponsors to the rear. The current generation of motorsports fans who don't watch NASCAR prefer a Monster to a beer. Those are the people NASCAR NEEDS to get to the track. And if it takes a pretty woman to get their attention, so be it.

    Who'd a thunk it 20 years ago that beer was being replaced by a Monster.

  24. This is typical of most NASCAR fans. They could have a 2 liter bottle of Coke in each hand and say that they are dying of thirst.

  25. Anonymous12:40 PM

    Well said Dave, I'm sick and tired of people trying to force their opinions on everybody else!

  26. I'm confused about one thing though. Victory Lane is only accessible via the garage area, therefore aren't these outfits a violation of NASCAR's own rules? (Or is there now an exception for sponsor reps?)

    I find the historical argument is not helpful to your point. Basically it holds that because we have always done it this way, we should continue to do things this way. Nonsense. Times change, and perhaps NASCAR should change too.

    The comparison to Lady Gaga's apparel is not relevant. If only because she decides what she is going to wear, not her employer. She probably has a lot more leeway on how to dress for work than the Monster Energy representatives. (Who probably need their jobs a lot more than Lady Gaga and have less choices in where to work)

    Aside from those two points, NASCAR's business, like Lady Gaga's is about entertaining people. Both are going to dress up their show to appeal to their target market. Do I think it is a setback for the women who work in racing?

    No, I do not.

    However, I think someone calling the women involved in racing 'ladies' does more to set them back. The struggle is hard enough to get the same opportunities as men in the sport, please don't hamper our efforts by using an archaic term.

  27. Thanks Dave. A voice in the echo chamber!

  28. Anonymous11:41 PM

    I have always hated that the "world", not just sports, thinks they need big busted women to sell products, e.g. Hardee's Super Bowl ad. Did they sell more burgers with that ad? Why do people think it is necessary? Are these women the reason you're going to the races? Do they actually think the Monster Girls are going to sell more tickets? So, they are trying to reach younger generation? What? Trying to make them think they can have a Monster Girl. I really liked that they turned away from the Beauty Queen and made it about the driver's and their teams.

  29. Dave in Ohio12:53 PM

    Couldn't have said it better myself. Certainly the tamest outfits of any cheerleaders in any sport out there. Millions of mothers drag their elementary to teenage daughters to cheerleading camp to wear miniskirts an inch short of their ass, but a leather outfit that covers most of the body is considered slutty? Really people?

  30. Boy, the old cliche is right about the argument getting more heated the less important the subject becomes. Monster Energy has shown ability to promote, so it warrants letting that part play out.

  31. Anonymous7:45 PM

    They stood around flipping their hair clueless to what was going on. Yes Linda was and is very knowledgeable about racing. But you gave way too much credit to these Monster girls. I don't care who wears what to the beach. The race track isn't the beach. Bimbos strutting around with their breasts smashed up out of their bustiers annoys me. I don't follow racing to see "provocative" women. And yes, they looked slutty to me too. Younger crowd? They dig dirt racing because that's where the real racing action is. Men who honestly love racing don't need to get knocked in the head by a pair of boobs to stay interested in racing. Guys who show up just before the boobs need to go hang out at Hooters.