Girls have it tough and society is to blame. Just watch the above advert for Always and the difference in attitudes from a girl under the age of puberty to those of both sexes who have gone through puberty is startling. Young children hold the belief that they can achieve anything and be anyone that they want to be, your gender doesn’t
matter. That’s the way it should stay. As you get older, people are under more and more pressure to confirm to society’s stereotypes. Boys have to be tough, manly and provide for their families. Girls are pressurised into worrying about what they look like, expected to act feminine and are generally perceived as the weaker sex. This makes my daughter and me angry. Luckily for India, I’ve learnt from the mistakes of my relatives and she has been brought up in a fairly gender neutral home, but she does get upset when people talk about being a girl in a stereotypical way.
The number of women participating in swimming is falling because they feel uncomfortable with their bodies. Swimming costumes, bikinis in particular, do not help as they are perceived by the media as a way of enhancing your sexuality and really don’t leave anything to the imagination. On the other hand, in sport, you are supposed to get your hair messed up, get hot and sweaty and generally not look your best. So no wonder the number of female swimmers is falling. A frequent question asked by ladies who want to learn is about the swimming pool being a private one rather than one used by the public, as they are uncomfortable in their bodies. One of the answers to this problem is to purchase a swimming costume with longer legs. However, if you are over a size twelve, choice starts to become limited and can take ages to find a costume to fit perfectly and then you have to pay a large amount and shopping becomes a chore and not a pleasure. Another problem is that swimming costumes are designed to be tight by nature, if the size of costume is smaller than expected, this can also dent a woman’s confidence and put her off the idea of swimming.
Even confident swimmers can have a crisis of confidence. Any sport will make you muscular and female athletes (unless you are a gymnast) will not be particularly dainty. I swam club from the ages of nine to fourteen and because of this, I have broad shoulders and it means that I can’t wear anything fitted on the top half of my body. It doesn’t particularly bother me, as I prefer jeans and t-shirts anyway, but other women and girls would not be so accepting of these sport induced changes, especially with media commentators adding fuel to the fire. Take Frankie Boyle, the so-called comedian, for instance, he had the audacity to criticise Rebecca Adlington say that she "looks like someone who's looking at themselves in
the back of a spoon". Now because of these callous comments, Rebecca has undergone a nose job. Would she have been so open to criticism if she had been a man and also if she weren’t so high profile, would she have been considered fair game? These comments might have been made in jest, but they filter down into society and form opinions on how women and girls should look like, it’s a vicious circle. Splash 'n' Swim have introduced a brilliant t-shirt to the online shop that says “So what if I swim like a girl… try and keep up”,that’s how it should be, turning a negative comment into a positive one and telling the world that girls are just as good and even better in some situations.