When I was a young girl, my goal was to ski like the boys.
In my young mind, that was what a good skier looked like because that was what was presented by the media in the ’80s and early ’90s.
I do not remember seeing magazine covers or cool posters with women skiing well or on difficult terrain. The only time women were featured, they were standing around looking pretty or skiing in bikinis. Sometimes these women were actually Olympic skiers, but you never saw them skiing (fully clothed) in the pictures.
I have a strong memory of walking through a ski shop with my father when I was about 12 when I saw a poster for ski boots on the wall. It featured a naked blonde woman crawling on the ground with the advertised ski boots on. There was a bunch of adult men in the shop and I remember feeling embarrassed and ashamed looking at the poster. Why would she want to be known that way, rather than for her skiing?
I think this lack of quality representation is part of the reason that I never gravitated towards one person I wanted to be like as a skier.
I understand now that the women in the posters were probably models or didn’t have many sponsorship options.
These days, luckily, there are more sponsorship options available and some amazing women are being featured doing the activities they are good at in marketing advertisements and on the big screen.
For the past two years, I have watched the Gutsy Girls Adventure Film Tour with some girlfriends when it shows in Adelaide. The tour is part of the Banff Mountain Film Festival family, and I have previously written about the Radical Reels tour. The Gutsy Girls films feature a bunch of women doing outdoorsy and amazing things.
This year’s films showcased women longboarding down a mountain pass, ice canoeing, mountain biking, riding their bike around the planet, solo hiking, running the fastest known time on a remote Tasmanian trail, surfing, and skiing. The theatre was packed, mostly with women and young girls, and it was exciting to see so many young women have the opportunity to watch other females do amazing things.
I finally understood the importance and power of representation in the media.
While the festival lends itself to a fabulous girls’ night out, and the specific representation provided by the festival is wonderful, I think it is important that men and young boys also see the films. The more young people who grow up seeing that both genders are equally capable, the better off the future will be.
When considering today’s bloganuary prompt – Who is someone that inspires you and why? – I realise that I am grateful for, and inspired by, all of the women throughout history who have been dissatisfied by the status quo and said, “not good enough.”