Somewhere during puberty being strong is a sign of weakness in girls.
Being fit is desired as a way of avoiding fat, healthy means to starve and pretty is to be skinny.
Instagram and social media have made models without roles, role models, and celebrities out of unknowns and their endless feeds of photos are sending out confusing ideas of beauty to our girls.
This, however, has been a universal problem. As an athletic teenager, I may have been fit and strong, but I still remember being horrified when I talked with a dietician one day.
“You can’t make a German Shepherd a Greyhound,” she told me.
I was devastated. I desperately wanted to be a greyhound. Long limbs, skinny torso and a slender silhouette. That would be perfect, I thought. The German Shepherd may have been strong, athletic and intelligent, but all the images around me at the time were telling me to be attractive you had to be skinny.
“You can’t make a German Shepherd a Greyhound,”
I was devastated. I desperately wanted to be a greyhound.
Who was called a “solid” girl when they were young and thought that a polite way of people saying you’re “overweight”? Or heard the saying “muscle weighs more than fat” and start to wish you didn’t have muscles?
Social media and advertising have been constantly throwing warped images at young girls that healthy is skinny and strong is weak. To think people are still scratching their heads wondering why participation in sport for girls drops dramatically during their teenage years.
Hence the idea behind Sportette’s “Strong is the New Pretty” campaign.
I first heard about the slogan when reading about photographer Kate T. Parker. She captured her five and eight year old daughters in a range of poses that showed their boldness, strength and beauty that was stripped raw of what gender stereotypes say girls their age should be like. Parker wanted to empower her girls and shot them in strong positions often with determined looks on their faces or playing with their friends with huge natural smiles as they laugh together.
It hit me how starved I was of images like that when I was a teenager and how much worse it has become with the viral infestation of social media.
Little girls should be confronted with images of healthy, strong, fit, inspiring women on a daily basis. And there are no better women to deliver that message than our female athletes.
These women are the perfect role models for girls to look up to and aspire to become. They’re healthy, strong, fit and focussed. They have goals, are fiercely determined, grounded and often juggle professional sports careers with full time work or study.
Little girls should be confronted with images of healthy, strong, fit women on a daily basis.
If you had the choice would you want your girls looking at images of Kendell Jenner or Kimberlee Green? Lindsay Lohan or Laura Geitz? Miley Cyris or Melissa Barbieri? Who would you want them to aspire to become?
Sportette has teamed up with photographers from all over Australia to deliver inspiring images of our best sports women. The lens of the camera is capturing these athletes in moments of focus, success, determination, pain, reflection and accomplishment. All with the theme that strength is beauty, achievements over aesthetics.
All the girls photographed have chosen their own outfits and how they want to be portrayed. There are no makeup artists or stylists involved. We want to portray rolemodels not models. Don’t focus on the look, but the look in their eye.
I’d rather be strong than skinny, muscular over mini and solid over slender. Let’s make sure our girls see that too. Strong is the new pretty.
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A casual interest in horse riding saw Jade Findlay spend her gap year working for one of the world’s best eventing coaches and accidentally falling into her sport. Jade joins Sam Squiers to discuss how eventing works, competing alongside the royal family and what could be done to better support women returning to the sport after having kids.
Growing up with a rare nerve condition meant Ella Sabljak could write her own rules for what she could achieve. Ella joins Sam Squiers to discuss falling in love with wheelchair basketball as a kid (but not getting to play until later in life), missing out on the 2016 Rio Olympics and how she’s helping to make school sports more inclusive.
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