The Dove and Nike partnership is one I didn’t know I needed. The global brands hosted a full-day event at the Nike Headquarters in New York City to discuss their latest initiative, Body Confident Sport. Unbeknownst to me, the program line-up would speak to my inner child and help me address the negative narrative most women develop about their bodies at an early age.
I was 11 years old when I had my first insecure thought regarding my body. I was starting a new school and excited to show off my outfit for the first day. Over the summer, my mom sent me to Germany to visit my aunt. She lived on an army base with her husband and two kids. While there, I went to Paris and shopped with the pocket money my mother gave me. I fell in love with a blue mini-skirt with a marble design. “This is what I’ll wear on the first day of school,” I thought. But when I hopped off the school bus and walked into the building, I heard a group of girls laughing at my outfit, and making joke about how big my butt looked in the skirt. Up until then, I didn’t know I had a big butt. After that day, its what I became known for.
I found comfort in oversized clothing because it hid my body, but as I grew older, I fell in love with my curves. People pay good money for extra junk in their truck and here I was, blessed naturally. I can appreciate that now, but from ages 11 to 18 I hated my body.
Dove X Nike launch the Body Confident Sport Coaching Program
Dove X Nike did a study that showed the relationship between young girls and body confidence. Their research showed that negative perceptions of the body are directly related to their desire to play sports. In fact, 67% of girls have or considered dropping out because of body confidence concerns. As a result, the brands came together, creating the first-ever Body Confident Sport coaching program.
Dove and Nike kicked off the initiative with a panel discussion featuring Tennis Champ Venus Williams and Gold Medal Olympic Gymnast Laurie Hernandez. The ladies, along with Alessandro Manfredi, the Chief Marketing Officer of Dove, Vanessa Garcia-Brito, VP and Chief Social & Community Impact Officer for Nike, Dr Phillippa Diedriches, Body Image & Mental Health Expert, and Dr. Nicole LaVoi, Director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport, led an open discussion about body confidence and its effect on young women.
The discussion highlighted negative body talk’s impact on young women and how it cripples them from performing to the best of their ability. Puberty is a pivotal moment in an adolescent’s life. According to the Dove X Nike study, 45% of teenage girls globally drop out of sports, twice the rate of boys, due to low body confidence.
Each panelist shared their personal story regarding their relationship to their bodies, while Laurie discussed her coaches’ impact on her confidence. She recalled one coach encouraging poor eating habits while weaponizing her growing body against her. They called her “boxy,” which caused her to hide under big clothing. It wasn’t until she met another coach who told her to focus on what the body can do instead of what it looks like that she decided to honor the power of her body.
The power of the tongue
Words are powerful, and how we use them is crucial for self-development. What we say to ourselves matters just as much as what we say to others. The panel’s call to action is to create an environment where the body’s ability is discussed over how it looks. Creating a positive self-image can be difficult, especially when the world is hyper-fixated on an unattainable beauty standard.
Comments like, “You look great! Did you lose weight?” can be daunting because you never know what people are struggling with. And while it appears to be a compliment, it highlights the perception that you look good because your body is more petite.
I left the Nike Headquarters reflecting on the first day of school. I went through my teens and 20’s hiding my big butt. In my mid-30s I spent my time defending my weight gain and finally speaking up for myself when the unsolicited, “you gained weight” comments would surface. Now at 39, I can confidently say I love my body. And while it took a while for me to get here, I’m glad coaching programs like this exist so the conversation can begin at an early age.
See highlights from the event below!
You can learn more about Body Confident Sport here.
Dove X Nike Are Instilling Positive Body Talk With Their Latest Initiative was originally published on hellobeautiful.com
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