Does worrying about what you look like prevent you from taking part in sports?

8 Aug

Does worrying about what you look like prevent you from taking part in sports?
Megan, 13, from London – No

Madison, 13, from Whitstable – Just sometimes but mostly I enjoy sports and it makes me forget about worrying.

Thania, 15, from Bradford – It’s actually a relief to put sports clothes on as I know it’s one time when I don’t have to worry about how I look! There was one time when I’d forgotten my PE top and had to borrow one from the Lost Property, though. I had to teach younger kids and I felt really uncomfortable because the top was a bit see-through.

Jessica,16, from Southampton – I didn’t worry when I was younger but as I got older I started to get more self-conscious about looking sweaty and horrible so I didn’t try so hard in PE etc. even though I enjoyed sports. Now I don’t mind taking part in sports with other people because you’re all equally sweaty, but I don’t like things like running on my own as I get self-conscious if people look at me, even if they’re strangers. Usually, I forget about how I look during the activity as I focus on that and enjoy myself, but I worry about how I look after.

Kayleigh, 17, from Peterborough – I have a funny-shaped birthmark on my leg and it makes me very self-conscious about swimming. In the past I’ve turned down going out with friends on sunny days as I knew they’d all be wearing shorts, trying to tan their legs and I’ve turned down going to fancy-dress parties where the girls are expected to wear dresses because it would take about 4 pairs of tan-tights to cover it. When I was younger I also used to worry that people would be able to tell if I was on my period but I’ve since learnt that this isn’t necessarily the case and every girl has the same problem anyway. I used to feel that I was shorter and chubbier than other girls and I got spots when I first started secondary school and worried that getting sweaty would make the make-up hiding them come off. Because of these things I’ve not really got involved and I’m not a sporty person.

Maia, 18, from South Wales – You’ve just got to throw yourself into it! It’s fun and healthy – a pitch/pool/track/gym…whatever, not a cat-walk!

Chantelle, from Milton Keynes 19 – I used to worry but I’ve since learnt that all girls are in the same boat and nearly all of us worry. Boys worry too! I find it really helps to do your activity with other, like-minded girls. Think sisterhood. Be supportive of one another and just remember to keep it real – life’s too short to worry about the little things. Don’t be a drama queen, that’s just no fun.

It’s the Olympics and all that anyone can talk about is the Dream TeamGB. Even our favourite clothing lines have taken up the “Best of British” theme and union jacks are plastered all over our food packaging. The Great British ladies, in particular, have been in the limelight for being just, well, great at their sports. It all kicked off last weekend when Becky Adlington bagged a Bronze medal for her impressive front crawl, just after winning her first race in record time. She was shortly followed by Zoe Smith, the 18 year old weightlifter who lifted twice her own bodyweight and Lizzie Armistead who won us a silver medal for cycling. Today Heather Stanning and Helen Glover of the women’s rowing team succeeded in making a gold medal our’s. And there are many more female athletes from around the world who are doing impressive things, such as Ye Shiwen of China, who beat the time of the male swimmer Ryan Lochte who won the men’s individual medley in the second-fastest time in history. Of course, for some of the Olympians, it is the first time that they, as women, have been allowed to compete for their countries. Female athletes in the UK have been allowed to compete in the Olympics since the 1900s but the sports available to them were extremely limited and sports have been added in a long, slow process. It is only this year that female boxing has been introduced to the games. Recently, the UK’s media has come under fire for its portrayal of female athletes. *statistics of women on covers etc.* Does worrying about how you look put you off of taking part in sports and outdoor activities? Are some activities unappealing to you because they seem to be “boys things”?

Sport and being outdoors is good for you, end of. It keeps you fit, improves your brain function and provides a nice dose of endorphins – the hormones that make you feel good. Pretty dam necessary during our teen years, I think we’d all agree. So if you’re a bit of a worrier, here’s some tips for feeling more confident:
Ways to be more confident:

• It’s sport. You’re working out, meaning you’re going to get sweaty/wet/weather-beaten. It’s natural, and it’s a fact you can’t avoid. But you’re doing it for own well-being so it shouldn’t matter what other people think, and if there’s one time when looks really don’t matter, it’s when you’re doing sports! Excuse yourself and have fun, if anyone does point the finger, smile them off. Go on, be fearless.
• Take comfort in the fact that you are getting fitter and healthier every time you exercise. Know your goals and focus on them. They are what matters.
• Nothing is too “macho”! Men take part in gymnastics, synchronised diving and our male swimmers are doing ballet as part of their training. They’re not put off doing “girly” sports – so what’s stopping you from joining the rugby team?! We have an amazing women’s football team. They are under-promoted, not un-able. Think reverse Billy Elliot.
• Confidence – especially to do what you love, and even more especially, something as wholesome as sport – and carelessness about how you appear while doing it, is incredibly attractive.
• Ignore the voice in your head telling you that you can’t. You can. Simple.
Tips on how to prevent yourself from worrying about your looks after the activity:

• Face wipes!
• Keep hair out of your face. Stick it in a high pony/bun and wear some cute ear studs (if you don’t have your ears pierced, cute hair-slides will do the same job). If your hair is short, just run some wax through it for a cool, effortless, surfy look.
• Deodorant! Make sure you use a good one, and take a simple (not overpowering) perfume or body spray with you for after.
• Use tampons. The myth about teens not being able to use them is just that – a myth. If this really doesn’t appeal to you, though, find a good, absorbent pad that suits you.
• Wear a sports bra! With better support, you’ll increase your performance and feel more confident and comfortable. When you buy it, get measured.
• If you have spots, make sure you have a thorough daily cleansing routine and cleanse after sports. If you don’t, make sure you moisturise.
• Drink water! It will keep you hydrated which means your innards will be healthy, you will improve your performance and your skin will be taken care of.
• Take care of your skin and keep your make-up minimal. Wear Vaseline on your lips and maybe a little mascara on the outer corners of your eyes (unless you’re swimming!) Fresh-faced and natural is best.
• Don’t worry about unshaved legs! If it really worries you, though, get used to shaving with a good blade on wet, soapy legs and always moisturise afterwards. You can do the same to your bikini line for swimming but make sure you exfoliate the area first. If you want to try waxing, make sure you talk to a more experienced female first – Don’t be embarrassed, it’s what mums, sisters, aunts, nans and friends – you get the idea – are there for!


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