A friend recently posted this to her Facebook page:
The image simply haunts me so I’ve opted to do a blog post inspired by it. It may seem off topic at first glance but I have discussed self-image in other posts. Life is not about bits of silo-ed information. In this website’s case, women in the outdoors comprises so much more than just about women being active outside. We need to recognize how everything is connected. Self-esteem, confidence, self-love…it’s all at play when we talk about being active outdoors.
For this website, I wish to portray healthy images of women as an alternative to what young girls see. I use Instagram (#activewomencanada or @active_women) to share images of myself or other women engaged in the outdoors. For the younger demographic – especially those in high school – my wish is they see healthy, happy adults engaged in outdoor fun and that they continue to pursue those avenues. We know that young women engaged in sport use fewer drugs, drink alcohol less, and wait to engage in drugs, alcohol and sexual activity until an older age. We know it improves self-confidence and esteem and provides a learning place on compromise and team-work. And yet, as these young women enter high school, they begin to drop out of sport and activity. High school is tough and the pressure to conform to mainstream feminine standards is ridiculous. When we allow the media to continually present women in a particular manner, it’s no surprise that our young women are suffering.
As an individual at home, reading this, what does this mean for you? It means you can provide the inspiration for the young women in your life. Understand the incredible benefits that sport – and the additional benefits of the outdoors – provide for youth. As a mom, it’s your responsibility to give your daughter healthy role models and healthy habits. But it’s doesn’t end there: it takes a community to raise a child. It doesn’t matter if you’re a family friend, aunt, teacher, coach, volunteer…be a role model for a young girl in your life. Be that role model you wish you had.
Confident, happy, smart, respectful, healthy children don’t just “happen”. They learn. And they learn from you, from us. Kids aren’t dumb: they know when you’re insecure or afraid. Don’t slam your own body. Don’t worship an unhealthy model. Don’t do fad diets. Create a positive environment for yourself and use that environment to influence the youth in your life. Show them it’s fun to be outside. This, in turn, will improve the confidence you want your little girl to have. Let her know her body is more than just a pretty canvas for viewing. A body is capable of so much more. It can huck a cliff, it can walk 1700 miles, it can climb up rock, and it can glide under – or on top of – water.
Why not show her what her body is truly capable of ?