Social and Interpersonal Development

45% Of Girls Stop Playing Sport By Age 14 Due To Low Body Confidence - What Can We Do?

Delaney Ruston, MD
February 20, 2024
A teen girl jogging across a sports field

Did you know that 45% of girls stop playing sports by age 14 due to low body confidence? 

That is a shocking and devastating statistic. 

This was shown to an audience of 123.4 million last Sunday when Dove, in partnership with Nike, aired a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl as part of “The Self-Esteem Project.”

In a world where what girls see on social media, influencers on YouTube on their favorite shows, and in advertising powerfully shape perceptions and behaviors, Dove's Super Bowl ad presents a critical conversation starter about the intersection of self-esteem, body image, and performance in societal contexts. 

The statistic - 45% of girls dropping sports because of feeling body dissatisfaction - aligns with the broader discourse on how societal expectations and self-consciousness about appearance can significantly impact cognitive and physical performance. 

In my first film, Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age, I shared a study that showed body objectification of women negatively impacted their cognitive abilities.

Dubbed the “sweater study,” it revealed the psychological impact of self-objectification, where women performed worse on a math test when wearing a bathing suit compared to a sweater. See the clip from our movie (will add clip) here.

The study illustrates the tangible effects of body image concerns on performance, suggesting that the pressure to conform to certain physical standards can detract from an individual's focus and abilities in cognitive tasks.

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I applaud Dove for bringing the effort to turn this around to the international stage. In addition to the Super Bowl spot, their campaign uses social media to keep girls body-positive and confident.

Part of the campaign is the TikTok challenge #keepherconfident. Ambassadors Venus Williams, Kyle Kelce, Steve Young, and coaches encourage girls to share their sports skills and to tag and nominate friends for the challenge on TikTok using the #keepherconfident hashtag. 

This is so smart. To bring body positivity to a platform that otherwise objectifies body dissatisfaction. This is one of many ways they are working to turn body image around for young girls. 

Dove and Nike’s Body Confidence Sport program fosters body confidence for 11 to 17-year-old girls. The effort exemplifies a proactive approach to combatting the detrimental effects of negative body image, which can often lead to eating disorders and other mental health problems.

This international initiative not only seeks to keep girls engaged in sports but also aims to empower them to feel secure in their bodies, irrespective of societal standards​​, using practical coaching steps. Bravo! 

Talking about this with your girls and boys will also help foster confidence that can surpass social media standards. Ask your kids what they think about Dove and Nike’s campaign and how they feel in the wake of filters and photoshopped images. 

Here are some questions to get you started. 

  • What do you think about unrealistic beauty expectations?
  • What do you love most about your sport/activity?
  • What are some things you do to stay confident?

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With new videos posted every Tuesday and Friday, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel! Here's our latest videos!

The Screenagers Podcast - New Episode: Decoding Adolescent Decision Making On-Screens and Off

In the latest episode of The Screenagers Podcast that just released Dr. Delaney Ruston talks to author and psychologist Dr. Kristin Neff, Ph.D., about the power of self-compassion. They discuss the prevalent issue of self-criticism among parents, particularly regarding screen time, and how adopting self-compassion can help navigate such challenges

Listen to the full episode here: Apple Podcasts // Spotify // Website // YouTube

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Social and Interpersonal Development

45% Of Girls Stop Playing Sport By Age 14 Due To Low Body Confidence - What Can We Do?

Delaney Ruston, MD
February 20, 2024
A teen girl jogging across a sports field

Did you know that 45% of girls stop playing sports by age 14 due to low body confidence? 

That is a shocking and devastating statistic. 

This was shown to an audience of 123.4 million last Sunday when Dove, in partnership with Nike, aired a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl as part of “The Self-Esteem Project.”

In a world where what girls see on social media, influencers on YouTube on their favorite shows, and in advertising powerfully shape perceptions and behaviors, Dove's Super Bowl ad presents a critical conversation starter about the intersection of self-esteem, body image, and performance in societal contexts. 

The statistic - 45% of girls dropping sports because of feeling body dissatisfaction - aligns with the broader discourse on how societal expectations and self-consciousness about appearance can significantly impact cognitive and physical performance. 

In my first film, Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age, I shared a study that showed body objectification of women negatively impacted their cognitive abilities.

Dubbed the “sweater study,” it revealed the psychological impact of self-objectification, where women performed worse on a math test when wearing a bathing suit compared to a sweater. See the clip from our movie (will add clip) here.

The study illustrates the tangible effects of body image concerns on performance, suggesting that the pressure to conform to certain physical standards can detract from an individual's focus and abilities in cognitive tasks.

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