womenathlete

#GrowingUpAGirl: A Female Athlete’s Perspective

By Amanda Connerton

There’s a new trend swimming in the hashtag pool and it is definitely making a splash! Last Tuesday, #GrowingUpAGirl started trending on Twitter, and the impact has been huge. While some of these tweets were harmless and funny, the overall response opened my eyes to a prevalent, societal issue: the unrealistic and unfair expectations and double standards for females in today’s society.

To get an idea, here are some tweets I came across:

After reading just a few tweets, I could see that my fellow females were on to something and it got me thinking about my own experiences. Growing up, I definitely fell victim to pre-established gender roles and expectations. For example: having to choose the “girl” toy from the Happy Meal, having to dress “like a girl” for holidays and functions, and the overgeneralized reminder to “act like a lady.” The requirements and expectations of growing up a girl were a headache and they only got worse, especially as a female athlete.

In 7th grade, I was asked to play on my middle school’s football team. Though I was interested, my father kindly refused, reminding me that football was a “boy’s” sport. I was 13 and pissed off because I was told “no.” However, the gender discrimination didn’t really hit me until high school, when the girl’s soccer team scrimmaged against the boys team during a practice. I was very excited (perhaps more than my teammates) because I was fearless, relentless, and tough. My perserverance must have shined through because I was approached by the boys coach the next day in school. He complimented me saying, “You’re an impressive player,” but unfortunately, his kind words took a turn for the worst by following up with, “you play so strong, on and off the ball, for a girl.“

“For a girl.” If I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase, I wouldn’t have to work a day in my life. Though, I’m not so sure that would be worth it. It’s gotten to the point where being a female in today’s society is a struggle and some would even say it is treated like disability (“you can’t do ______ because you’re a girl”). It is not only sad, but also infuriating.

As a female, everywhere you turn, you’re under scrutiny. If you enjoy sex, you’re considered a slut; if you don’t, you’re a prude. If you wear make-up, you’re called conceited and superficial; if you don’t, you’re lazy and don’t take pride in your appearance. To be completely honest, sometimes being a girl feels like a lose-lose situation. But the good news is, in order to change a situation, light needs to be shed on it, and that’s exactly what #GrowingUpAGirl is doing.

One by one, we can call out the unrealistic expectations and pressures put on girls in today’s society. Lately, younger generations have been doing a phenomenal job of pushing the boundaries and challenging the norms and societal expectations. A little involvement goes a long way; just look at the attention a few 140 character blurbs on the internet have received. I encourage everyone to browse the web, search the hashtag, and consider your own experiences involved with gender discrimination or unrealistic expectations. Who knows, maybe 20 years from now our daughters can tweet about the revolution of changing gender roles and stereotypes? It only takes a pebble to cause a ripple.

About this blogger: Amanda is a recent graduate from the University of Rhode Island. She majored in Psychology and is an aspiring Forensic Psychologist. Amanda hopes to work in the legal system assessing criminals and researching the minds of serial killers. She spends most of her free time singing, writing music, playing guitar, running, and wishing she had a puppy.

Also by Amanda:

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