Olivia Dunne
Olivia Dunne via Sports Illustrated Swimsuit YouTube

During a recent interview with Elle magazine, viral LSU Gymnast Olivia Dunne discussed some recent incidents in which she felt her fame and popularity put her in several potentially dangerous situations which forced her to miss in-person classes.

Olivia Dunne via FULL SEND PODCAST YouTube

Dunne explained that these security “scares” are now why the social media star has had to resort to no longer attending her classes in person as a result of fear for her personal safety.

“There were some scares in the past, and I just want to be as careful as possible,” said Dunne. “I don’t want people to know my daily schedule and where I am.”

Perhaps this is the cost of her celebrity status? Dunne believes so, since becoming a social media and athletic sensation by the age of 20, she has already had to deal with threatening messages and other stalker behavior from online fans she feels has become” a bit concerning.”

Olivia Dunne

Olivia Dunne via Sports Illustrated Swimsuit YouTube

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Despite putting her life out in public for the world to see, she does admit that this fame has forced her to hold more personal parts of her life closer to avoid exploitation and scrutiny. A recent example of a situation that could have potentially become dangerous was back in January of this year when she attended the Tigers’ season opener.

Apparently because she made it public she was going to attend the game, hundreds of fans attended just so they could see her, forcing campus police to come and keep things calm.

“It was our first meet of the season. I knew that my success had grown from the years prior, but I did not expect there to be that many people out there to see me and my team,” said Dunne. “I didn’t really realize until after the meet that I saw the videos of it. I was like ‘Holy moly.'”

Olivia Dunne via NCAA Championships YouTube

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Dunne isn’t completely naive about what helped rocket her social media notoriety. She is an objectively beautiful woman who has flaunted her physique online in order to capture the attention of tens of thousands of predominantly male fans.

“It’s not a girl’s responsibility how a man looks at her or how he acts, especially when you’re doing your sport and that’s your uniform,” She continued. “I can’t help the way I look, and I’m going to post what I feel comfortable with. It’s hard to handle at times, definitely, because I am just a 20-year-old student. I think people do forget that.”

Besides, all of this male attention has landed her on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, as well as earning her large sums of cash from deals with L’Oréal, Spotify, Forever 21, Motorola, American Eagle, Grubhub, ESPN College GameDay and many more. So while Dunne has obviously had to sacrifice a degree of privacy and has to be more alert than a typical college athlete, she has fully embraced the potential risks that come with it, or so it seems.

SPOKANE, WA – MARCH 28, 2011: Head Coach Tara VanDerveer, Stanford Women’s Basketball vs Gonzaga, NCAA West Regional Finals at the Spokane Arena on March 28, 2011. Photo Credit: Don Feria, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Last year, Stanford University’s Women’s College Basketball Coach Tara VanDerveer criticized the NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) policy which see feels has forced female athletes to “prostitute themselves” for financial gain. VanDerveer seems to be troubled by this kind of trend where athletic performance is overshadowed by the commodification of athletes’ physical appearances.

In Dunne’s case, she was estimated to have earned $2 million alone thanks to endorsement deals. It’s hard to say that she earned her large social media following just because of her athletic ability.

VanDerveer seems to believe this trend is detracting from the significant strides made in creating opportunities for women in athletics. Her concern is that this kind of monetization risks reducing the focus on athletic prowess, competition, resources, and other important aspects of sports. Instead, she sees it diverting the attention towards the athletes’ physical appearances and their sexual attractiveness, which she views as a regression rather than progression.

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