How Being Athletic Totally Changed 11 Women's Lives

Illustrated by Elysia Berman.
Far too often when girls are involved in sports, they feel isolated, made fun of, or like they just don’t belong. Many of us have heard the words "boyish," "butch," and "manly" associated with girls or women who play sports. They’re words used to alienate those who aren’t typically "girly." By age 14, girls are dropping out of sports at two times the rate of boys — and while name-calling and bullying aren't the only reasons girls drop out, they can really sting.
When girls do stay active, the benefits are clear: They are more confident, have better grades, and are less likely to get pregnant as teens. The perks of staying in sports don’t end there, though. Many of us who played sports made friends, learned how to work as a team, and figured out how to get back up when we fell — all things that come in handy later in life.
This is why the new campaign #GirlsAre is so important. Led by the Alliance For A Healthier Generation and the Clinton Foundation, the nationwide movement is meant to "empower girls and women to move and celebrate their athleticism." Supporters are encouraged to sign the pledge to celebrate "sporty" girls and write notes to their younger selves that include what #GirlsAre to them. How the hashtag is completed is left to the individual to decide.
In honor of today’s launch of the campaign, we collected 11 things we got out of playing sports, and what we wish we had known when we were still playing.