Everyone rightfully is outraged over the recent acknowledgement that Facebook and Instagram know they are hurting teens through unrealistic body images. Yet there is another method of body imaging shaming that continues.
In just about every high school across the nation, gym classes are in session, dividing teens into groups. While physical activity does the body good, are the methods in which gym classes are developed a possible gateway to body issues?
Admittedly, I am a very thin male who stands five feet, five inches tall, and unless the sport is attached to a computer or gaming system, I’m typically bad at it.
Countless days I spend standing, waiting to be called for a team in gym class, only to be chosen last. I am lucky that my school offers choices for physical activity including a “walk the track,” yet I am usually walking as the only male on the track. No matter the day, I typically leave gym class defeated, wondering why I’m not the athlete other males in my class are.
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I know I can’t be alone in this feeling.
For decades, movies and television shows have presented stories of the weak nerds that are no match for the muscle-ridden athletes. While the ending is usually a merge of the two groups playing off each others’ superior abilities, it still shows how divided the mindset can be with regards to physical appearances.
Yes, there are differences in this world, making a truly beautifully diverse planet, but why must some teens endure a gym class that shows how unathletic their body is? Why must we continue to subject teens to a gym locker room where body judgment is around every corner?
How can we accept the possible body image issues that occur in gym classes, but go after social media for doing the same thing?
I am in full support of getting physical activity, cheering on the great athletes at my school, and learning more about living a healthy life. I just want to know if there is a better way of doing gym classes, creating inclusivity that helps teens accept and love their bodies and physical abilities.
Until this day happens, I will continue to walk the track, attempt to play team sports in gym class, and increase my proteins and carbs, hoping that I will someday be the inner athlete gym class tells me I am.
Jacob Woodruff is a sophomore at Paul VI High School in Haddonfield. He joined the student newspaper as a freshman, and hopes to explore the South Jersey region from the teen perspective.
This article originally appeared on Cherry Hill Courier-Post: High school gym class can reinforce negative body images among teens