Dove has teamed up with Nike to create a scientifically proven set of coaching tools to build body confidence in girls aged between 11 and 17 years old.
And it couldn’t come at a better time. According to Dove’s research, puberty exacts a punishing price on teenage girls, with 45% of them dropping out of sports due to body dissatisfaction. With the launch of Body Confident Sport, an online coaching program designed to help build body confidence in girls globally, Dove strives to correct that dangerous trend. Low confidence tends to start when girls reach adolescence, which is when they begin to experience significant changes to their bodies. As they move and play sports, this can leave them feeling exposed and vulnerable to judgment for what their bodies can and can’t do, and also how they look.
And who better to support the campaign than globally recognized tennis star Venus Williams and artistic gymnast Laurie Hernandez. At a press event announcing the program Tuesday morning at Nike’s headquarters in NYC, tennis star Williams said she has witnessed coaches telling their female athletes to eat restricted meals, and that she has been personally criticized for her physique throughout her career.
“I was once being interviewed by a reporter who commented how I had gained weight. I looked at him and asked, ‘Where did I gain weight?’ He asked me again if I had gained weight and I responded the same way. He retracted the question,” Williams said.
Hernandez, who won the silver medal for the balance beam in the 2016 Summer Olympics and a gold medal in the Team Event that same year said she had suffered from eating disorders and body confidence issues during her career. She is optimistic about how the new Body Confident Sport program will support young athletes.
Some surprising stats that came to light during the development of the program:
- 67% of girls have or have considered dropping out of sports because of body confidence issues, while 45% have—twice the rate of boys.
- 48% of girls in the U.S. dropping out of sports were told they don’t have the right body for sports; 56% were objectified or judged on their physical appearance.
- 61% of girls would be interested in hearing from coaches about body confidence education.
- 83% of girls in the U.S. say their coach was the reason they felt more confident.
Williams’ recent Instagram post says it best, where she intentionally spotlights the word “body” to focus on the message she, Dove, and Nike are looking to impart. “Every body that inspired you has felt insecure. We succeed because some body believed in us. Some body encouraged me to be confident in my body. And that changed everything.”