Thanks to a couple of people who sent in this link
to a story about girls feeling too embarrassed to exercise.
One link-sender-inner, Clarrie, had this
to say about it:
"We should be teaching them that they can play hard, play competetive sports, run about, lift weights, jump, throw, climb, whatever - and it doesn't matter if they get sweaty and red in the face and mess their hair up in the process. By all means offer a range of physical activities, but don't tell girls they can only do graceful, ladylike pursuits and should leave the good stuff to the boys."
This sentence hit home for me, though: "The...problem is that a lot of the sport is competitive and only the children who are best at it end up getting picked and enjoying it."
That reminded me of why I hated P.E. when I was in school, although I liked other forms of physical activity. But the whole "getting picked last" thing really killed my desire to exercise at school; my coach was a bitch who did nothing but make me feel klutzy and fat; and I became a sedentary kid. That shouldn't have happened, and I bet I'm not the only kid to whom it did happen. I think a emphasis on less competitive physical exercise would have made a huge difference in my childhood.