This week, in honor of the passage of Title IX 40 years ago, I’m talking about girls and sports. (Although Title IX is about more than just sports.) Read the first part, where I talk about raising brave, possibly athletic daughters, here.
I was like my girls once: I was an average, dirty, suntanned little girl who spent all day running around with my friends. We did “bike ballet,” in which we performed dance-like moves while cycling around and around our cul-de-sac. But it wasn’t too long before I started feeling distanced and disconnected from my body and from physical activity. I ultimately ended up believing a few things I now recognize as myths:
- Athletic people are born, not made.
- Fitness is a chore.
- My talents were in my mind/brain, and therefore not my body.
Elementary gym class was tough for me (Tori and others write compellingly about how damaging PE can be to young women). I was no longer an equal among equals: a lot of kids were stronger and faster than me. I wasn’t sure what changed. In my “All About Me” book from second grade, there was a page devoted to our dreams and wishes for the future, and my first wish was to win a race in gym. I remember getting a new pair of sneakers and thinking “This is it!!”
I challenged my best friend to a race and lost. What the fuck?? My gym teacher clearly thought I was a defective model and I started to dread gym and recess as scenes of humiliation. I read more books, took singing lessons, and wrote plays. I thought that some people were just naturally good at athletics, and some are not. Continue reading