It’s no secret that outdoor sports are dominated by males. According to the Outdoor Foundation’s Outdoor Participation Report for 2013, outdoor participation rates among adolescent girls is at its lowest since 2006. Today, barely over half of adolescent girls go outside to recreate.
Pro skier and female outdoor champion, Lynsey Dyer, is looking to change that. She’s collaborated with Unicorn Films to bring the world her first all-girl ski film, Pretty Faces. Pretty Faces (by the way, it was just successfully funded at over $100k) hopes to inspire girls to be more active by showing young girls that going outside is pretty damn fun. We can’t wait to watch the film so we reached out to Lynsey to find out what to expect.
The Clymb: In one sentence — what are you trying to accomplish with Pretty Faces?
Lynsey Dyer: We are trying to inspire girls to become more active and know what they are capable of by being role models.
The Clymb: Mainstream media has an incredible effect on girls and their choice of sport. Case in point, archery’s fastest-growing demographic is young girls thanks to the Hunger Games. Why is it so important that media portrays women as athletes?
Lynsey Dyer: Girls are most influenced by media at a young age and they need someone to show them they have opportunities when they are most impressionable. And I LOVE hunger games. Katniss – her character in real life is truly an empowered female.
This might sound cheesy but girls obsess so much over their looks — if they put just a fraction of that energy into their potential and calling – I think we can help save the planet. Just worrying about things like, “What will my friends think – what are my peers gonna think?” I spent 90% of my time when I was young thinking of that and what if I spent half that time and energy saving the rainforest?
I don’t know who is to fault here – but maybe the enemy put it into our minds to obsess over distractions rather than living out what we’re here to do. If we can wake girls up and make them believe in their crazy dreams then hopefully we can impact the world for the better.
I want to make skiing look so damn fun that girls want to participate and need all the help I can get.
The Clymb: I just wrote an article on the business of Yoga — women dominate that activity. Why are participation rates higher for some activities and not so much so for others?
Lynsey Dyer: I think marketing has a lot to do with it. Right now action sports as a whole is marketed to 16–25 year old guys but I see huge opportunity outside that market, especially to girls.
The Clymb: Ok – so now that we’re talking to marketers, what tip do you have for them?
Lynsey Dyer: Support our film!
The Clymb: What are some of the negative influences women get that discourage them from participating in the outdoors?
Lynsey Dyer: I think the main one is if they hear at a young age that sports are un-feminine. As in – they are called a Tomboy. I think it’s the earliest programming we hear. A lot of girls I know [who ski] do the same things that our brothers did growing up, did but we know that’s not the norm.
The Clymb: Personal anecdote: at an early age, my girlfriend decided soccer is not feminine enough and quit. How often does this happen?
Lynsey Dyer: This is very very common – that’s what we’re directly trying to change. We think girls get the wrong messages – they start to see messages in media that it’s not cool for them to be athletes but it is cool to be a sexy pop star – and that’s why we have to get this in media.
The Clymb: I feel like the feminist movement has come a long ways and yet, there still seems to be a long way to go. How can brands, athletes, and readers contribute so women are accepted as outdoor athletes?
Lynsey Dyer: Stop telling girls “you’re so pretty” and “cute” start saying “wow what a good person you are” “look how brave you are” programming those ideals into them. We think we’re helping increase a girl’s self-esteem by telling her she’s pretty but really we’re telling her that looks are number one. It’s healthier to encourage a person’s character if you can say “look how brave you are and who you are on the inside.” Those messages tell a kid what matters most. That’s the first thing.
Other thing is take your girls out and be active with them. The greatest thing you can do for a young girl is model how you want them to be. We need empowered women to empower women and men to be active and supportive. Just having a really good time shows kids it’s a fun way to live.
I first think – I think women are a dynamic market. I think they can see right through fake marketing. If you want to genuinely reach women, learn about them and genuinely respect them in your daily life.
Secondly, I think the answers come when companies genuinely listen to the women around them. Women always have an opinion if someone asks them what they want.