Some people watch the games because they care who wins. But what about those of us preoccupied with our own and others' vanity? Not exactly the demo for split-second photo finishes. Competition is about who's having the most fun, sex or outfits. Watching people sweat is only fun if they're actually in the bedroom.
It only took water polo and beach volleyball to change all that. (The last thing we expected out of Britain was great bodies.) Call it "Fitness Porn": The ubiquitous muscle-toned skin is better than what's bared for A&F or Victoria's Secret because we have the cover of appreciating the athletic excellence behind the bodies. And the Olympians are as desirous of "hot" status as we are to give it: Nobody with Union Jack nail art, 4,000 Swarovski crystals on their leotards, butt cleavage on display or anti-aerodynamic flowing hair (a la U.S. gold medalist sprinter Sonya Richards-Ross) isn't a little superficial themselves.
Today's ratings soared because of NBC's coverage -- but the cast's tutti-frutti, trying-too-hard cover-ups are still sagging. Maybe recent budget cuts were applied here. And did Ryan Seacrest really need to travel with a hairdresser? His unapologetic midair pompadour landed with viewers like a gymnast stumbling on vault (ahem, John Orozco). And for slackers down on themselves for not working out enough, consider these cyclist thighs on Germany's Kristina Vogel, a byproduct of all that spinning. Not a good leggings look once London is done.
Bring On the Bling
Jewelry would slow these ladies down — but they still can claw their way to a winning finish. Tennis' Venus Williams matched her patriotic colors with blue eye shadow and red lips. The U.K.'s Rebecca Adlington's Union Jack fingernails got as much attention as her freestyle stroke. Even U.S. gymnast Jordyn Wieber's limbs were outshined by 4,437 retina-exploding Swarovski crystals on her leotard.
Olympic gold-medalist gymnast Gabby Douglas got kudos on the beam -- but many thumbs down on her barretted ponytail. Some African American viewers voiced contempt for her unkempt updo, but a loose-locked messy bun is the current choice of style trendsetters (which now includes the entire U.S. gymnastics team). Noted by observers: the cartoon-like effect of Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura's spiky jet hair -- maybe it gives him Samson-like strength.
Sexy Pecs and Posteriors
Nobody cared much about those teddy-bear bonnets on the water polo players. Oh, you didn't notice? Those banana hammocks certainly kept the eye distracted. As statuesque male chests got the once-overs (exhibit A: U.S. swim-team hotties) and female bottoms usurped the attention from their tops, it seems the tables have upended. And while chest hair might not be exactly aerodynamic, at the 2012 Games, it appears to have gone completely extinct.
He's Here! The Lochte Monster!
Only the fourth Vogue cover guy in history, swimmer and Ford model Ryan Lochte makes no bones about the fact that jewel-encrusted grills and girls are his obsession -- along with those Kanye-style shutter shades with the words "Lochte Jeah!" and "Reezy Jeah" on them. ("Jeah" being Daytona Beach-speak for, er, "yeah.") Yes, Lochte's faux-gangsta style is tacky -- come on now, a diamond grill worth 25 grand? (Perhaps they're funded by his quick $2 mil in endorsements and subsidized by future sales of those shades for $14.99 on his website, blacked out till the day after the closing ceremony.) But is this display any worse than his man-whore admissions ("Last time I was in a relationship. Now I'm single, so London should be really good") or his mom's Today show use of the phrase "one-night stands" to describe his relationship-readiness? At least there's that bod -- but with Lochte the Lothario, sneakers make the buoyantly flamboyant man, from patriotic winged kicks to high-tops with his signature on the bottoms. Lochte admits he'd like to design clothes and date Blake Lively. While no Gosling or Reynolds, Lochte gets jeahs for reaching high, bro.