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Teaching girls to prioritise function over form for better body image

The body is a gateway to experiencing and exploring the world. It’s the first thing people see when they look at us and it’s the canvas on which we express who we are. But the relationship we have with…

We need to teach girls to value more than just looks. Steven Depolo

The body is a gateway to experiencing and exploring the world. It’s the first thing people see when they look at us and it’s the canvas on which we express who we are. But the relationship we have with our bodies, or our body image, can change over time and is influenced by the messages we receive from our peers, families, society and culture.

One of the most turbulent periods for body image is adolescence. Annual Mission Australia studies of over 45,000 young Australians aged 11 to 24, have consistently found body image to be among the top three concerns of Australian adolescents. Just over one third (34%) of Australian girls report that body image is one their greatest worries, with older adolescents consistently more concerned than their young peers.

If we’re serious about improving girls' body image, we need to shift the focus from appearance to function and teach girls to value more than just looks.

Why do girls dislike their bodies?

Body dissatisfaction is more common among women than men but this gender discrepancy doesn’t usually become apparent until adolescence.

In childhood, both girls and boys focus on what their bodies can do: jump high, run fast, climb trees. But as bodies develop, girls tend to lose this relationship with their bodies, and their focus moves from function to form. It’s this focus on appearance that results in negative body evaluations.

To understand why girls begin to focus on appearance over functionality, we need only observe the body ideals of Western culture. Males’ ideal body is often associated with functional qualities or characteristics such as muscularity and strength. Females, however, tend to focus on the aesthetic qualities of the body, particularly appearance and weight.

In many Western societies, the female body is sexually objectified and is valued more for its aesthetic appeal. As girls mature physically and psychologically, they begin to internalise the objectified cultural ideals and view their bodies as an object to be evaluated and judged for its beauty and aesthetic appeal. The “female” is viewed less as a person and more as “a body”.

Unfortunately, girls are striving towards an unrealistic and often unobtainable body ideal, leading them to feel dissatisfied with their actual, realistic bodies.

Enrolling girls in sports is an effective way to re-introduce them to their functional capabilities. JosephGilbert.org

Function rather than form

Research has found that when girls view their bodies through a functional lens, they’re more likely to be satisfied with and appreciate their body. They also report feeling more empowered and physically capable.

The physical activity and sporting environments play an important role in redirecting girls’ focus back to body function. Girls who participate in sports and physical activity express higher value for the functional characteristics of the body and are also more satisfied with not just how their bodies look, but also how they function.

Enrolling girls into sports programs or simply encouraging them to be physically active (walking, hiking, rock climbing) is an effective way to re-introduce them to their functional capabilities and allow them to re-discover the amazing instrument they have within their bodies.

But as children go through adolescence, sports participation in sports activities decreases, with girls participating less than boys. This may be explained by the barriers adolescent girls themselves perceive towards sports participation. Girls report feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable about their bodies, a lack of confidence in their physical abilities and feeling unfeminine as reasons to resist participating in sports.

The sexualisation and overt display of the female body through uniform design can also impact girls’ inclination to participate in specific sports. Track and field, swimming, gymnastics are some examples.

Parents and coaches can play an important role to encourage girls' participation in physical activity. First, the body needs to be taken off “display” so that judgements aren’t being based upon appearance.

Second, dialogue needs to be directed toward physical competence, enhancing rather than ridiculing girls physical abilities.

Finally, participation does not always have to be structured – unstructured sports play can offer the same opportunities for skill development than structured environments.

Promoting change

The most effective way to combat body image concerns among adolescents is though open dialogue. This allows young people to share any concerns they have about their body and critically evaluate unrealistic messages they receive.

Current programs often focus on educating youth on realistic images of beauty, encouraging them to love their bodies as they are. But although these messages are important, they still put appearance into the spotlight and reinforce the message that appearance is what is most important. The addition of functional body education could have a powerful impact on adolescents’ body perceptions and should be included in such programs.

Overall, parents, coaches and teachers need to acknowledge they have a big impact on how adolescents view their bodies. When discussing the body with young people, highlight the functional aspects rather than the aesthetic ones, and identify the body as a vehicle that has the capacity to offer them some remarkable experiences.

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53 Comments sorted by

  1. Bernie Victor

    Martial Arts Instructor

    Bree, this is a great article which goes part of the way in explaining why we are having such a large drop out of girls participation in structured sports as they enter into adolescence.
    Getting them back into physical activity is the issue as girls seem to think it "uncool" to be involved in sport.
    After having one of my female students represent Australia at the London Olympics, l have noticed an increase in participation from this group.
    Role modelling seems to go a long way to getting girls, and keeping them involved in sporting activities.
    So..... the pressure is on for Mums, aunties, sisters , teachers etc to get out there and lead by example.

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    1. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Bernie Victor

      "If we’re serious about improving girls' body image, we need to shift the focus from appearance to function and teach girls to value more than just looks."
      Actually, girls are only too aware of their body's "function" during this time. Not once does this article mention, let alone discuss, what is actually happening here. You need to understand the following: puberty, menarche, testosterone, muscles, bra cup size, libido, fertility peak, growth spurt, hair. Get the picture?

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  2. John Harland

    bicycle technician

    When they reach adolescence, there is a sudden transition in the way girls are expected to use their bodies. Suddenly, they are discouraged from running, jumping and climbing trees.

    Also from bicycling. A sad irony of the helmet laws is that adolescent girls are seemingly the group most deterred by "helmet hair" yet have a strrikingly low rate of bicycle crashes. Particularly compared to adolescent boys.

    This deprivation of bicycling from their lives is not trivial in relation to body image…

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    1. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to John Harland

      John, you make a really good point about cycling. As a teenager I loved my bike, it gave me so much freedom, I would often cycle 10 or more kms per day, and that's not including to and from school. We didn't have helmets in those days, so I don't know if it would have deterred me from cycling or not.

      I still love cycling, and it is one of the best ways of staying healthy. I really can't understand why it is not encouraged more, for people of all ages. My great grandmother used to cycle to the shops and the post office daily, until she passed away at aged 96. She was no speedster, but she was healthy.

      For young girls developing breasts, running and jumping, can actually be quite painful, unless parents are proactive and give their girls good quality sports bras. My own daughter loved horse riding, and a good sports bra was an essential piece of equipment.

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  3. Dale Bloom

    Analyst

    I think the “objectification of the female body” thing has been overdone.

    Study after study has shown that women want men lean. Not skinny and not fat.

    To be skinny or fat is a sign of ill health, and men want women lean also.

    If women want to be noticed by men (and there is no indication they do not), then they should be lean, not skinny and not fat.

    Sport or physical activity would be the best way of becoming lean.

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    1. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      School teachers and academics should be banned from taking up class time with their clueless rubbish about 'sex education'. They are bad enough at teaching English and Maths, without getting themselves iin a twist over physiological changes in teenagers.

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  4. Stephen Ralph

    carer

    Wouldnt a class every so often in all primary & secondary schools go a long way to promoting the issues in this article.

    If boys can be told by girls how they feel in a sympathetic forum, and there is an educator to moderate and direct discussion, it may go a long way to ameliorating the issue.

    We tend to see this as a feminine only issue, in that I dont think many males pay any attention to this in the media etc. Or if they do its to ogle at bodies and pretty faces.

    Like many other similar issues, taking it to the coalface of young minds may solve many of the problems down the track.

    Isnt this what education is meant to be - equipping young people to be successful after leaving school, and hopefully leaning a lot of negative baggage behind.

    No point in being dux of the class if issues such as this leave you distressed and disturbed.

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    1. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      "If boys can be told by girls how they feel".

      That is going to occur for the boys every day for the rest of their life, but it doesn't actually get the girls out onto the sports oval.

      The girls are simply remaining in the class room, telling the boys how they feel.

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    2. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen
      Our schools - especially public schools - are the most pathological places imaginable to "teach" kids "sex education". 90% of the teachers are women. 20% of the pupils do not have fathers (or male parent/guardian) at home. Public school teachers should be fired if caught giving classes in 'sex education'. They should be fired for sex discrimination, because they damage young males with their ignorance. Let the teachers stick to the 3Rs, and leave sex for the grown-ups and 'learning by doing'.

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  5. Kerrie Curran

    logged in via Facebook

    I agree that this is a huge challenge facing adolescents, and appears to be totally out of control. However, it is certainly not just affecting girls. Boys are subjected to, and subject themselves to exactly the same level of scrutiny about their bodies as girls. Taunts about being overweight, being more developed than same-age peers, being weak, being different in any number of ways cut just as deep for boys as it does for girls. I am the parent of a 14 year old boy who will hide his body behind baggy winter clothing on a 45 degree summers day and would rather stay home in holidays than risk going out and being seen by peers.

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    1. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to Kerrie Curran

      None of that is new, but the degree to which it happens may be.

      I remember school as an almost-unbroken sequence of taunts about being skinny or immachewa.

      Ah yes, there was also relegation by Phys Ed and sports teachers to the hopelessly-under-developed-and-uncoordinated category and occasional half-hearted attempt at education sandwiched between yelling at the kids to stop chattering and labelling the right proportion of them as failures.

      (And 8 became a schooltacher?)

      I guess we do it differently now. We approve of everything the kids do, no matter how crappy, so they are left with even less around which to build their self-image.

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    2. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Kerrie Curran

      "I am the parent of a 14 year old boy who will hide his body behind baggy winter clothing on a 45 degree summers day and would rather stay home in holidays than risk going out and being seen by peers."
      Adolescent boy-men have being reacting like that since Adam was a boy. In one sense it is a comforting sign that he has a healthy gender ego. He just needs to get out there, and butch up. "I bench-press, therefore, I am".

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    3. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Kerrie Curran

      Well Kerrie, things change with age and interests. Is he on the Internet, does he game? He might have other priorities than his classmates. But yes, boys are as sensitive as girls when it comes to their look and how their peers see them. And bullying exist everywhere. A gym is a good idea if you can afford it, especially if you know someone that can show him the ropes there. It usually takes about three months before the training sets in as routine, to be appreciated, and after that it becomes just the other way. You need it to feel good :) Or rather, your body craves it.

      But I guess the most important thing with any physical activity is getting it to become a routine.

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    4. Kerrie Curran

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Kim Darcy

      Thanks for your thoughts Kim. But my son does not fit the stereo type of a skinny and weak kid that just needs to 'butch up'. He has a very athletic body is 6 foot tall and very strong. He was a talented AFL player and represented the zone in various athletic events. Unfortunately his issues are entirely psychological. Not everything is black and white.

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  6. Stephen Ralph

    carer

    Hi Kerrie

    absolutely agree.........the article was about girls, but can just as well apply to boys.

    This and so many other issues are being faced by children and adolescents..

    Bullying and viscious taunts are soul-destroying, particularly for young people without the skills to deflect or rationalise this sadistic behaviour.

    Even for adults it can be at best unsettling, at worst health affecting.

    I weep for your 14 y.o., and hope ever so that there are happier days ahead.

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    1. Kerrie Curran

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Thank you so much for your kind words Stephen. Perhaps this is key - we all just need to be kinder to each other!

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  7. Meg Thornton

    Dilletante

    Remembering back to my primary and high school days, one of the things I disliked about sports was that I was never much good at them. I also didn't receive much encouragement to improve, or much instruction on how to achieve an improvement. I was never actually taught how to throw a ball (but I was mocked for not knowing how to) or how to run (but I was teased for not being able to run fast) and by the time I hit high school, I'd pretty much realised I wasn't going to get anything out of phys ed. classes than misery, trailing well behind my peers on the sporting field and being picked last for teams.

    So I can definitely get behind the idea of actually teaching girls physical skills - not just "this is how to do X", but also things like "this is how you can improve your skill at Y" or "this is how you can practice Z".

    (I also think we should be focussing less on competitive and team sports, and more on self-improvement, but that's a different argument).

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    1. Bernie Victor

      Martial Arts Instructor

      In reply to Meg Thornton

      Hi Meg,

      Fortunately or unfortunately we are all slaves to our genetics. I was very good at sport at school and was one of those kids that were picking the kids for sports according to their skill level, to give my team the best advantage...... Is this a genetic trait, was l pre-programmed to act this way?
      In maths class l struggled, l would try to hide and prey that the teacher would not ask me to answer any questions or worse, come to the front and write an answer on the board. l was mocked for this.....

      Positive reinforcement seems to be the way to increase self esteem, this one simple thing would have help me and I'm sure helped you as well.

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    2. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Meg Thornton

      Meg

      I read your post with a great deal of recognition - although my circumstances were different, I know how it feels to be bullied. The greatest social faux pas at school was to be smart, not an accepted physical norm (in my case I was very skinny) and crap at sport.

      I was ill for most of Primary School, so when the medical 'experts' pronounced I was strong enough to play sport my teachers thought it wise for me to be placed with a couple of 'senior' girls (year 6 to my year 5). These girls…

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  8. Pat Moore

    gardener

    Hmmm...no feminine response yet Bree? How do you "take bodies off display" in this environment? Other than burkhas perhaps? Which are rather restrictive themselves? Or perhaps privileged single sex schools which leave young women free of male judgements of derison or approval for a time but still subject to competitive bitchiness of their peers. Adolescents are saturated in popular, social media & celebrity culture as you'd know which includes a soft porn spin. Hello Paris Hilton, Lara Bingle…

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    1. Bree Abbott

      Researcher, School of Psychology and Exercise Science at Murdoch University

      In reply to Pat Moore

      Pat,
      I don't actually consider myself a feminist, simply a woman in modern society. Unfortunately Western culture has had sex and gender distinctions, ideals and roles ingrained within it as you say for an extremely long time.

      This article is presents results, that have been simplified to fit within a 850 word limit, of a 5 year research project that only scrapes the surface of body objectfication. As to trying to reinvent the wheel, I disagree, I am merely trying to improve it with knowledge…

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    2. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Pat Moore

      Have you ever heard of the term “queen bee”

      “A queen bee is the leader of a female group, such as a clique.”

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_bee_(sociology)

      It so often girls that deride other girls, and expect a stereotype.

      I don’t think most boys could care less, they are more interested in football, surfing or anything that has wheels.

      Except in a feminist society, males have to be given the blame for everything.

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    3. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Bree Abbott

      "Unfortunately Western culture has had sex and gender distinctions, ideals and roles ingrained within it as you say for an extremely long time."
      Bree, why "unfortunately"?

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    4. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Bree Abbott

      "To understand why girls begin to focus on appearance over functionality, we need only observe the body ideals of Western culture. Males’ ideal body is often associated with functional qualities or characteristics such as muscularity and strength. Females, however, tend to focus on the aesthetic qualities of the body, particularly appearance and weight."
      Yes, wicked, naught genderist western culture. Now, I don't know what they taught you about western art and culture in the psychology department, but allow me to show you what gets taught by those who know what they are talking about.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:David_von_Michelangelo.jpg
      Here's a heads-up. The whole of western art and culture is based on form and symmetry as art. You have got the whole of western art and culture, as well as anatomy, physiology and sex/gender completely wrong.

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    5. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Boys don't model on stereotypes?

      As adults they don't want to admit that they did.

      Be honest, Dale.

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    6. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to John Harland

      John, are you saying that the history of western art and culture has NOT been based on the aesthetics of bodily form, function, and symmetry?

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    7. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to Kim Darcy

      If you compare it with the non-representational imagery of puritanical Islam, then I guess you have a point, Kim.

      However I think it is a poor description of much of the best of Western art. It does not strike me as good description of the art of Rembrandt or his students, or Fred Williams, Mark Rothko, or a lot of other artists.

      Certainly, those are elements of art and culture, whether Western or anything else. in that sense, we might say that most art through all time has been based on those elements, so they do not serve to single out art from any particular country or region..

      It depends on what art catches your eye, I guess, Kim.

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  9. Stephen Ralph

    carer

    Hi Pat

    as I've said before (and to be fair from a gay man's perspective), those ad nauseam ads for hair shampoo, perfume, lotions and potions, Myer etc with those pouty and(supposedly) perfect women and now girls it seems, make me (excuse the old parlance) want to puke. Simpering and smouldering across the small screen in the ridiculous way those models walk - like a woodpecker on steroids.

    Now these images surely perpetrate "old" steroetypes of beautiful, dumb women who care for nothing but beauty image.

    And btw there was one ad teev recently (may still be on) that I think was for news and information on a website.

    They had a shot of a MAN at a bus stop on his way to work searching for news of the day, weather, sharemarket info etc.

    Then the shot of a woman at home looking up recipes, talk shows, entertainment gossip etc.

    But no perceived outrage anywhere for that.

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  10. Sue Ieraci

    Public hospital clinician

    Thanks for the article.

    There is also a concerning "flip side" occurring amongst young males: the quest for the gym body. This involves an explosion in the use of various supplements and drugs to develop musculature - not for good health, but for appearance.

    Incidentally, I think this is also feeding into wider society in various different ways - from sports scientists trying to optimise performance to dietary extremism.

    The outcome of encouraging physical activity should be a combination of enjoyment and cardiovascular fitness: not weight or shape.

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    1. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Sue
      "This involves an explosion in the use of various supplements and drugs to develop musculature - not for good health, but for appearance."
      Now, I know that at least you on this site is stats and data analysis guru, so I presume you have the data to back this claim?

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  11. Pat Moore

    gardener

    Hi Stephen, finished with the dishes? Yep the multibillion $ image industry has vested interest indeed in fashioning & continually refashioning feminine appearance...the "makeover" (less so metro masculine)..."you pay to have your image screwed on the capitalist fashion rack, then let Playboy tell you what you lack" were some lines i wrote a few years ago.

    Hi Bree. No i definitely wouldn't consider you or the majority of young women as feminists either. Understandably. Considering the word has…

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    1. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to Pat Moore

      No, Pat. Women are not less competitive. They just compete in diffent ways to men, in general.

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    2. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Pat Moore

      "females generally have lot less of a competitive urge"
      LOL. Have you seen the data of what women think about working for a female boss?

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  12. Stephen Ralph

    carer

    Hi pat

    "& putting it into a gap between two posts/hoop/hole etc?"

    the imagery is mind-boggling.

    I remember that old adage about how women should be in charge of the world.

    There would be no wars, cos no woman would want to send her son to war.
    Times have changed of course, now she wouldn't want to send her daughter as well.

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  13. Margaret McCarthy

    Masters student

    I think that the problem starts now when girls are still near only toddlers. The sexualisation of very young children has encouraged appearance over function before these children can really understand how wonderful and exhilarating function can be.
    It is sad that this is happening after what we fought for during the liberation years of the 60s. Off course it is now an industry which is problematic in itself.

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    1. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to Margaret McCarthy

      That sounds a lot as if you are attirbuting the problem to the feminist fights against gender stereotyping.

      If not, perhaps you feel that what was won should stand for all time.

      It doesn't. Even the best of ideas will be re-evaluated at least with each new generation questining the wisdom and ideals of their. parents.

      You have to keep fighting, and educating.

      Too many people have allowed themselves to be sucked back into consumerist models of gender roles while deluding themselves that the fight has been won.

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  14. Lorna Jarrett

    Former PhD candidate, physics teacher

    Why does "physical activity" have to equal "sport"? Even with the best will in the world, I'm cringing. I've always been fit and enjoyed physical activity - and I've always HATED sport!

    Thanks John Harland for raising cycling - yes, some people do it for sport but as he points out it's an important form of transport - and was a significant factor in womens' emancipation (fascinating story). But there are other options too.

    I'd look at dance if the objective is to get adolescent girls into…

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    1. Kate Rowan-Robinson
      Kate Rowan-Robinson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Registered Nurse/Sexology Student

      In reply to Lorna Jarrett

      Great idea, Lorna.

      Creative ideas of how to get girls into physical activities that they can enjoy, without fear of ridicule, and take pride in are needed.

      Personally, with my own fair share of body image issues and lack of sporting prowess, I took up fencing some years back and wonder why not more people are doing so. It's a fantastic sport; for people who are body conscious you are covered head to toe in your safety gear (and no need to worry about pulling stupid faces behind your mask…

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    2. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      You seem to have a good body, not skinny and not fat.

      I’d nominate bushwalking, as it would get more women away from four walls, and help them connect with reality.

      Activities such as surfing and perhaps sailing would also do the same.

      Housework apparently is quite a good aerobic activity, although more women are now hiring cleaners.

      I don’t think shopping does much except increase clutter in the house, which increases housework.

      Text messaging and talking on the phone of course do nothing.

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    3. Kate Rowan-Robinson
      Kate Rowan-Robinson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Registered Nurse/Sexology Student

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      A compliment, Dale? You do know I'm a feminist? ;)

      Personally I do advocate for shopping as being a sport - combination of walking and weights, what's not sporty about it? :D

      My husband used to coach girls rowing and now that I think about it that would be a great sport too, other than the hideously early mornings. Building strength and stamina, no stupidly small sportswear and team co-operation. There is no focus on one's appearance, just on what is achieved by the team.

      I'll run with the…

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    4. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Kate Rowan-Robinson

      Now this is very telling: -

      “What Body Parts Women Look At On Guys! “

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJHg2HPJPjI

      It seems to be a combination of biceps, crotch and butt. So much for male objectification of the female body.

      I was involved in rowing. It is a good sport for travel, and from memory 2 state championships and an Australia championships for that sport. However it isn’t totally healthy for reasons I won’t elaborate on here.

      Scuba diving is a little mechanical and artificial…

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  15. Peter Hindrup

    consultant

    It is difficult to accept that young women not indulging in sport is due to lack of role models.

    Aside from the fact girls and young women are seen around Sydney and on TV, Swimming, boxing, playing judo, and Ju Jitsu as I saw the other day in Bondi Junction, kids at the local karate club seemingly in roughly equal numbers. Hockey, soccer, basket ball, all to be seen occasionally on tv, and cricket, where Australia has a world class team and Netball where Australia likes to think it is the best…

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    1. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Girls DO play sport, right throughout their adolescence, and beyond. That sport if known as 'fighting for men'.

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  16. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

    Boss

    This article starts with sub-teen truisms "The body is a gateway to experiencing and exploring the world. It’s the first thing people see when they look at us and it’s the canvas on which we express who we are." What's new?
    The project as described above appears to lack a hypothesis to be tested. It lacks a design scheme to test the hypothesis. It lack a measure of project success and it lacks those review points where it should be stopped if incoming results are not useful. It raises the question of whether this is a project that displaces more worthy projects from the academic funding line. It seems to have a more comfortable place with family and friends.
    The whole concept of tertiary research to influence the minds and thoughts of pubescent people is bizarre. A Chinese Wall between the individual and the Nanny State would be difficult to construct, though desirable. There is the possibility of as much harm as good.

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  17. John Harland

    bicycle technician

    The problem is not a lack of sport.

    Fitness centres on everyday activity. If girls are not allowed to walk or cycle around, you have a problem.

    The primary emphasis must be on making our communities safer to move around through moving around them more.

    Don't just stop driving girls around, get out of the car yourself and help contribute to the presence of people on the street that helps make streets safer.

    Also put a lot of pressure on Police to get out of their cars and walk around…

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    1. Lorna Jarrett

      Former PhD candidate, physics teacher

      In reply to John Harland

      Couldn't agree more John.

      Funny you should mention the police getting out of their cars. I was subjected to some threatening behaviour recently by a drunk pissing in the street, right round the corner from the police station. I'm not sure what I'd have done if he had - I was on my way back from training at my preferred physical activity and had a good several kilos of brass in my handbag.

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    2. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to John Harland

      John:
      years ago, hitching around NZ with a African Lass, in Auckland about ten thirty at night, just off the boat from Australia, I bowled up to a cop and said that we were looking for a reasonable, cheap place to stay. He produced a notebook out of his top pocket, said yes, and gave directions.

      The Lass thought I was crazy. Didn't believe my assurance that that was what they were there for.,

      Different from NSW where not so long ago the police commissioner said something to the effect of: 'Make no mistake, we are a paramilitary organisation'.

      The problem with NSW policing in a sentence!

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  18. Mel Campbell

    logged in via Twitter

    Bree, I really enjoyed this article. My recent book 'Out of Shape' (http://www.affirmpress.com.au/out-of-shape) argues that a key aspect of our unhappiness with our bodies is the way that over the last 50 or so years, sport has been reframed from something we do to 'build up' our health, to enjoy our surroundings, to be sociable or for the kinetic pleasure of body movement to something we do purely in order to look good and to get closer to an 'ideal' body.

    The media discourse of 'body image…

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    1. Bree Abbott

      Researcher, School of Psychology and Exercise Science at Murdoch University

      In reply to Mel Campbell

      Thank you Mel,
      I look forward to reading your book, it sounds facinating.

      I guess I don't consider myself a feminist as I don't really believe in labeling people for their values, beliefs or actions. I feel that I am just someone who has a strong belief in well-being and equality for all people, not equality based on gender alone. Some may label me a feminist, which I do consider a compliment as I hold a great deal of respect to the feminists of the past, present and also those in the future. However, as a whole, I am not driven by this movement alone, nor do I feel it defines or directs my research.

      Thanks again, I will definitely be following up your book.

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