Anti-Bullying Week: Sports & Stereotypes
Why Billy Elliot and Sporty Spice had the right idea.
What do you do to keep fit? Do you lift weights, go for runs, tap dance? Are you good at gymnastics or break dancing? Are you good at football or do you do ballet?
Lastly: are you a boy or a girl?
Sexism is everywhere and we all see examples of it in the media constantly. But some types of sexism called out as often. Today we’re doing it… let’s talk sports and stereotypes.
There are LOADS of stereotypes surrounding different sports (and we’re counting dance as sport). The film ‘Billy Elliot’, for example, is based around the sexist expectations that boys should only pursue typically ‘manly’ hobbies like boxing. And everyone’s all, “wtf, Billy” when he decides his passion is ballet dancing. 'Billy Elliot' raised a lot of awareness about this type of sexism.
In the anti-bullying advice we got from YouTubers earlier this week, YouTube sensation Marcus Butler talked about the fact that he was bullied for doing gymnastics during his teen years. He commented that he was talented, but the unusual pursuit of gymnastics as a hobby made him a target of bullying. So much so, that he actually stopped. Which is pretty upsetting.
The idea that there are some sports that are OK for guys to be interested in and some that aren't is ridiculous and wrong. What makes doing ballet dancing or gymnastics different from football or rugby? You have to be MEGA fit, flexible, agile AND have loads of strength in your arms to be a ballet dancer or gymnast. Meanwhile, rugby players in the scrum nestle other guys’ bums and pile on top of each other. So what makes some sports more “manly”? It’s literally made up.
Girls also suffer from sport-related stupidness. MANY girls are put off sports in their teens, due to the assumption that competitive sport is mainly for men. And, even though girl gym selfies are RIFE on Insta, there is a massive stigma around girls being “too muscly”, which supposedly makes them unattractive and “manly”. Which, clearly, they aren't.
That’s why we loved some of the gals competing in the Rio Olympics this year, who took part in a campaign to promote muscly and sporty female bodies as sexy too!
Skeet shooter Amber Hill, Paralympic long jumper Stefanie Reid and wind-surfing champ Bryony Shaw joined forces for Bluebella’s BeStrongBeBeautiful campaign, where they modelled Bluebella’s lingerie and looked smoking hot!
Amber Hill is basically the Elle Woods of shooting, as she would want to be a make-up artist if she weren’t an Olympic champion, and uses special pink shooting cartridges with her name engraved on them. How’s that for smashing stereotypes?! New James Bond anyone?!
Speaking out about the campaign, Bryony revealed how attitudes at school had left her feeling self-conscious about her athletic body shape from an early age. She also said she stood out among girls in her year for pursuing sport after a certain age, “I want to encourage young girls that it is cool to be different.”
We need more gals representing the sexiness of sporty women, like our sexy Olympians and celebs like Mel C (AKA the incredible Sporty Spice).
But vitally, we need to realise that ALL the stereotyping that goes on in connection with sport is just that – stereotyping – and it really is complete BS. A girl can be super-strong the same way that a guy can be super-graceful. Basically, the only stereotype you should be able to make about someone who does sport or dance is that they are physically coordinated. And, let’s face it, they’d probably be the last ones to die if there were a zombie apocalypse.
If you are being bullied for ANYTHING, not just sports-related bullying, there are some great sites you can turn to for information and help. The Bullying UK, NSPCC and Childline sites are brilliant or, if you would prefer to talk to someone, you can call the Childline helpline on 0800 1111.