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WAGS: The life of a professional athlete's right-hand partner

Taylor Swift has been a household name since her debut album hit the charts. At 26, Simone Biles is the most decorated American gymnast in history. But who is Brittany Mahomes? And what does she have in common with Taylor Swift and Simone Biles?

All three women fall into the WAGS group: wives and girlfriends of athletes.

Starting in the early '90s, European footballers became some of the most desirable bachelors. With the start of the Premier League in 1992, young athletic men were being signed to play football in multi-million dollar deals.

David Beckham's relationship with his wife, Victoria, was particularly remarkable because she was a member of one of the biggest girl bands in the world, the Spice Girls. Unlike other athletes' girlfriends, her career was just as intriguing to the tabloids as Beckham's.

At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the term WAGS exploded. Several wives and girlfriends attended the games to support their partners, and their faces appeared all over British magazines.

In the weeks following, these women were photographed at luxury stores, lavish restaurants and hotels, big parties and nightclubs. Everyone wanted to know what they were wearing, where they were shopping and how they got their tans so glowy.

English tabloids fueled the WAGS phenomenon and people were obsessed with many of the women's journeys from middle-class nobodies to the women in the arms of professional soccer players. Unlike American pop stars in the tabloids, this was one of the first times young women saw "attainable" fame.

Many WAGS who had their own fame, like Victoria Beckham, Shakira, Alex Morgan, Perrie Edwards and Charlotte Pirroni, were degraded and overlooked as their partners' success overshadowed their own. And even though the term has sexist origins, some women have been able to turn their image in the media around.

Brittany Mahomes is married to Patrick Mahomes, the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. Normally, you're a die-hard sports fan to know who your team's players are married to. Often, these athletes want their personal lives to stay relatively private, but social media has changed this.

Brittany Mahomes uses Instagram to talk about her life being married to a famous football player. She posts about her kids, soccer and baking. With the help of her athletic husband and former soccer career, she is now starting to model, according to WWD. While she is not quite a household name, many people now know Brittany Mahomes.

Taylor Swift's love life has never been incredibly under-wraps, so the announcement that she and Travis Kelce had been dating in secret surprised both their fan bases, says Independent. Because of her Eras Tour, Swift has been everywhere recently, both figuratively and literally. Now, her fans even get to watch her at football games.

Some of Travis Kelce's fans have been hesitant to accept Swift into the football community, as she sometimes takes the focus off the games she attends. Even though this has been annoying to some, according to HuffPost, people will not stop watching football games because they do not want to see Swift, but Swifties will start watching them for that reason. According to Entertainment Weekly, putting Swift on TV has arguably been the best publicity boost for ESPN in recent years.

Simone Biles is an Olympic gold medalist who recently tied the knot with Jonathan Owens, a safety for the Green Bay Packers. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Owens said that he was the famous one in their relationship, which created a stir on TikTok. Many men and women duetted the video, asking their partners if they knew who Biles was and then who she was married to.

Most people knew Biles, but not nearly as many knew Owens. These videos will likely not make people watch more of the Olympics, but there is a good chance that it has made some girlfriends and wives of Packers fans sit down to watch at least a quarter of the game to figure out who Owens is.

Like Biles, La La Anthony was famous before she got married to a famous athlete, but it brought her brand no fame. La La Anthony was a big MTV star at the beginning of the 2000s before she got married to Carmelo Anthony, says Stadium Talk. In addition to working for MTV, La La Anthony worked in film and television. Needless to say, she did not need to get married to a basketball player to gain fame. Or, at least, not initial fame.

Their marriage is especially coincidental because she got to host her own show when Carmelo Anthony was in his NBA All-Star era. The two have since split, but La La Anthony continued to work in film and television even after their divorce. Their tumultuous marriage story was not a huge hit to her career and likely not a publicity stunt, but no one could blame the former WAG if it were.

One other issue with WAGS is that they face harsh scrutiny. As previously mentioned, Brittany Mahomes is starting a modeling career. According to Newsweek 90, people wonder if she got these opportunities because of her husband or if she was just a good candidate.

If Taylor Swift suddenly became the center of controversy or was canceled, then Travis' fans might think she is a bad influence on him and could potentially ruin his image. WAGS and their husbands highlight a glaring issue of self-obsession and gluttony. "Power couples" are held to unrealistic standards of wealth and beauty, but the public should not praise two people simply because they physically look good together. That is a hard thing to overcome when celebrities are constantly watched and their privacy is nonexistent.

In a way, many WAGS are influencers. Although people may think being married to an athlete would make for a rich, easy life, WAGS share their side of the story with the world. They let us know that they also have real lives and face challenges just like everyone else, says Girls Club. These women sometimes have to uproot their lives, put their careers on hold and watch games where their husbands play potentially life-threatening sports. Some of them have tried to share tips online in an attempt to let other WAGS know that they are not alone and advise them in managing their lifestyle.

Athletes with more "interesting" lives get more attention in the media. Narratives that engage viewers include sob stories, famous families or relationship drama. The same thing goes for having attractive and interesting partners. When athletes marry or date “attractive” women who are somewhat active in the media and their partners' lives, audiences like them more. That is what has happened with Taylor Swift – she is an award-winning singer with a young fan base, so they put her on the TV. If these wives are deemed less interesting or attractive than others, then they will likely not be shown on television.

The fame that social media is bringing athletes and their families has been both bad and good; some women have been able to steer the term WAGS away from its misogynistic and sexist roots. As women turn it around and let themselves be seen as more than trophy wives, we will see how media and the surrounding stigma start to change.


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