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With the Olympics quickly approaching, sports are on the brain. With soccer star Hope Solo and phenom swimmer Natalie Coughlin on the scene, the boys will need to fight for attention. And now there is a new initiative, “Keep Her on the Field” that aims to keep young girls involved in athletic programs throughout their high school years. I completely agree with their goal but, their new PSA that blames the beauty industry for girls calling it quits? Not so much.
As you can tell from the title of this blog, I am a beauty editor that also loves to run. So when I watched the PSA that shows young girls walking off a soccer field midway through a game and emerging with skin tight dresses and over-the-top makeup, I was pretty annoyed. Let me get this straight…girls quit sports in high school so they can go to the mall and dress themselves up like they are Pauly D and the Situation’s new one-night stands?
Don’t take this the wrong way. I am in complete agreement that changes need to be made to increase attendance in girl sports. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, girls drop out of sports at twice the rate that boys do, by the age of 14. Compare this to the age range of 6-9 when girls and boys show the same interest in sports participation. That’s pretty scary.
What I don’t understand is why fashion and beauty is being pegged as a major cause for low participation. My personal experience in athletics completely contradicts this theory. I have found that sports and appearance go hand in hand. Getting ready for a cross country race, complete with ribbons and French braids, was almost just as fun as the race itself. (Who am I kidding? Much more fun.) But once the race started, I didn’t care that it was raining or that I stepped in mud, splattering it all over my legs. During that 20 minute race, it was all about running and running my best.
Maybe I’m an exception. I spent my youth braiding my American Girl dolls (Molly was so cute), as well as playing soccer with the neighborhood boys and girls. I knew when to be athletic and when to be girly. But on the other spectrum, I know plenty of girls who grew up as tomboys and, just recently, have turned their attention to beauty and fashion. Does this mean they no longer join the boys in a game of volleyball at the beach? Of course, not. They indulge in both.
The beauty industry may be a reason some girls turn away from sports, but to make this accusation that it is a major cause, is downright irresponsible. The fact that professional athletes, such as Billy Jean King, Hope Solo, Abby Wambach and Serena Williams, have put their names on this project makes me all the more worried.
Let’s fight to get girls back in the game, but please, keep the beauty industry out of it. I like to believe I am proof that girly and competitive can go hand-in-hand.