60% Of Girls Have Quit a Sport Because Of Their Looks


I was lucky enough to grow up with a mother who had a very high tolerance for whining. Although I complained about a lot of things (mostly related to why I needed to be 30 before I could get a belly-button ring) I whined the most about having to do to sports practice. Regardless of how much drama I would stir to avoid it, she never flinched.  She kept signing me up for anything from swimming, dance, soccer, synchronized swimming, and even underwater hockey (yes that's a thing, Google it). For this, I thank her because constantly being involved in sports made me more confident, healthy and generally very happy. 

Taken with a Polaroid in 1999: synchronized swimming wasn't all work, no play.

When I became a synchronized swimming coach during college, I realized how insecure young girls really are these days. Not a practice would go by without a nine-year-old girl asking me why swimming made her shoulders so wide or how fat she felt in her bathing suit that day. Some even refused to do certain assigned exercises out of fear that their muscles would become too big. Body-image problems were something that these girls just couldn't leave at the door. It followed them all the way into the activities that were supposed to be the most empowering and fun for them. They were so talented and yet, I often got the sense that their insecurities didn't allow them to fully enjoy the sport.

That's why I'm not surprised that a study from Dove came out today showing that six out of ten Canadian girls has quit a sport they enjoyed because of insecurities about their body. Now that really makes me want to whine.

The study conducted on girls aged 10-17 concluded that girls were missing out on the vital developmental benefits of organized sport because of intrusive body-image thoughts.

"Women across Canada have more power than they realize to shape a positive future for the girls in their lives," explained Sharon MacLeod, Dove V.P. of marketing. "We want to help them realize that girls want them to play this role and to empower them by giving them the tools to start this dialogue today."

In order to prevent girls from abandoning their athletic activities, Dove has launched the Unstoppable Girls Campaign to get mothers (ahem: fathers too, hopefully) and mentors to speak about these issues with young girls. To celebrate the launch of the campaign, they have taken over downtown Toronto with huge 3D billboards and they are super awesome.

Photo by Phil Cheung CNW Group/Dove Self-Esteem Fund

Have you ever quit a sport because of insecurities about your body or know someone who did? Let me know on Twitter: @feministabulous, and don't forget to use the hashtag #girlsunstoppable.