German Gymnasts Opt for Full-Body Suits Over Leotards to Take Stand Against Sexualization of Sport
"We hope gymnasts uncomfortable in the usual outfits will feel emboldened to follow our example," said Sarah Voss, a member of the German women's gymnastics team
Several female German gymnasts are hoping to empower other women with their new competition uniforms.
During the European Gymnastics Championships in Basel, Switzerland, last week, some members of the German women's gymnastics team opted to wear full-body suits rather than the traditional leotards, according to ESPN and BBC News.
Per reports, the German Gymnastics Association (DTB) said the outfit change — which Sarah Voss started, followed by her teammates Kim Bui and Elisabeth Seitz — was done to take a stand against sexualization in the sport.
"We hope gymnasts uncomfortable in the usual outfits will feel emboldened to follow our example," Voss told the BBC.
According to BBC, Bui, 32, initially performed in a leotard on Wednesday for the qualifying round. But after seeing Voss, 21, debut a full-body suit, both Bui and Seitz, 27, swapped outfits for the women's all-around final on Friday.
Female gymnasts usually compete in a leotard that can be long, half-length sleeved or sleeveless, per ESPN.
"We women all want to feel good in our skin," Voss told public broadcaster ZDF, per BBC News. "In the sport of gymnastics it gets harder and harder as you grow out of your child's body. As a little girl I didn't see the tight gym outfits as such a big deal. But when puberty began, when my period came, I began feeling increasingly uncomfortable."
Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday.
Fellow gymnast Danusia Francis, who will represent Jamaica at this year's Tokyo Olympic Games, told BBC News that she thought the German athletes' decision was "amazing."
"I feel empowered that we've got this option where we can choose to cover up," said Francis, 26.
RELATED VIDEO: Simone Biles Slams USA Gymnastics' Alleged Inaction Over Larry Nassar Abuse: 'You Had One Job'
Voss posted an Instagram last week after the performance and celebrated the clothing switch-up, calling it a project "close to the hearts of our team."
"Feel good and still look elegant. Why not?" added Voss, who received overwhelming support in the comment section of her post.
"Amazing," said Canadian gymnast Ellie Black, while Australian gymnast Georgia Godwin commented, "Love this! Congrats Sarah!"