I was at a 2012 holiday party when I heard a young father claim with certainty “my 2-year-old daughter is too much of a Girly Girl to ever play sports.” I have to admit that I was taken aback by the comment for a few different reasons.
First of all, this father was writing his daughter off from the world of sports at her tender age of two. Second, this modern-day, educated father was pegging his daughter – sticking her with a label. Finally, why the generalization that a girl who likes to wear dresses and nail polish cannot also play sports?
Let me propose this question? Did Shaq or Dennis Rodman’s tattoo-laden bodies prevent them from becoming successful pro basketball players? How is painting your body any different than a girl who paints her nails or colors her lips?
How about professional tennis player Caroline Wozniacki – did her attention to nail color and fashion stymie her rise to the top in the world?
Here is a quote from Wozniacki from Seventeen Magazine to consider:
“I always play better when I feel good in my skin. I’m really involved in the design of my outfits, which is cool, but my other personal touch is my nail polish. I always try to match it to what I’m wearing on the court!” — Caroline Wozniacki, tennis player currently ranked No. 1 in the world on the Women’s Pro Tour. http://www.seventeen.com/health/tips/superstar-athletes-secrets#slide-1
How about Alex Morgan’s signature pink headband? I can go on, but I think the point is made.
Just imagine if their fathers would have closed the door to sports because they were too girly.
Why would a girl who likes to wear dresses, pink, or nail polish have less potential on the fields and courts than one who does not? Why would a “Tom Boy,” a girl who demonstrates a penchant for sports early on, stand more of a chance at reaching higher levels later? Of course these connections are illogical and simply silly. Yet these old-fashioned preconceived notions still remain engrained despite overwhelming proof to the contrary.
If this father I spoke with follows his gender stereotype and exposes his daughter to more traditional female oriented activities to the exclusion of sports, he is doing his daughter a disservice.
It continues to be about changing attitudes. If given the opportunity, his daughter stands as good a chance as any to lead an active lifestyle that includes the enjoyment of sports. Like all girls, her appreciation for sports, desire to play, and levels achieved will be dependent upon her experience. Participation in quality developmental programs, PARENTAL SUPPORT, and exposure to role models are key.
Bottom line is that the dad’s biased statement about his “girly” daughter shows that society has work to do. All girls – big, small, tall, short, thick or thin – deserve the opportunity to learn and enjoy sports. Whether a “girly girl or not, while most may not become Olympians or pro players, at least we can give all girls the joys and benefits of a lifetime full of sports.
And the athletic girly girl in me says – I hope this guy’s daughter is our next Wozniacki!