The Scoop: Today, many women and girls feel they need to be as thin as possible to earn acceptance in society. So they may view fitness and activity as a way to lose weight or fit into a smaller dress rather than as a necessary tool for health and energy. The Movemeant Foundation was founded to change that narrative and help women and girls feel healthy — not just slim. The foundation encourages them to become more active and focus on the nutrition they need rather than fitting the beauty standards of others. All of Movemeant’s projects focus on one objective: building the self-esteem of women and girls, which can then have a positive effect in other areas of their life.
Every year, thousands of women in the U.S. come together to work out in their sports bras during We Dare to Bare events held throughout the year. They’re organized by the Movemeant Foundation, an organization that promotes self-confidence in girls and women by emphasizing health and movement.
We Dare to Bare encourages women and girls to forget about their body insecurities and connect with others on their fitness journeys.
According to Charina Lumley, Founding Partner of the Movemeant Foundation, one participant was so moved by a We Dare to Bare event that she shared her story with the foundation on Instagram. She was born with a birthmark on her neck caused by a neurological condition and was bullied as a child because of her appearance. She developed an eating disorder to try to “fix” herself and struggled with low self-esteem for much of her life.
She said that, when she first attended Dare to Bare, she, like many other participants, felt vulnerable walking around in a sports bra. But she soon discovered that the day’s events were all about celebrating what bodies can do rather than pointing out imperfections.
That was a significant shift in her thinking that helped her focus on her body’s power instead of its cosmetic flaws.
“Each and every year, I walk away with more gratitude for this fitness community and for what this community gives,” she said in her post.
But another vital aspect of that event is ensuring that young girls see women of all ages and fitness levels proudly showing off their bodies and getting active.
“Once girls and women learn that appearance and capability are mutually exclusive, they’re running harder, biking further, and moving with abandon,” said Charina. “It’s empowering to break free from feeling self-conscious and step into feeling self-confident.”
That self-confidence can spread through every part of their daily lives — from their professional careers to their romantic lives.
Helping Women Develop Healthier Relationships With Their Bodies (And Partners)
Women can find many disheartening statistics about weight and body image in the United States. Around 80% of women in a survey said they don’t like the way they look. And, perhaps as part of their goal to change their appearance, half of American women surveyed said they are on diets at any given time.
That body dissatisfaction can start early. More than half of 13-year-old girls don’t like their bodies, and more than 75% of 17-year-old girls feel the same, according to national eating disorder statistics.
With so many worries about their appearance, girls and women are often encouraged to think about fitness and nutrition as ways to lose weight and stay thin. But there’s more to it. The benefits of sound nutrition and physical fitness among young girls and women include boosting their health, confidence, power, and romantic relationships.
The Movemeant Foundation challenges that disordered thinking about attractiveness and disconnection from physical activity.
As the foundation’s website states: “At Movemeant Foundation, we empower girls and women by providing them with resources, opportunities, and experiences to use physical movement as a tool to build confidence and self-worth.”
Charina and her Movemeant Co-Founder Jenny Gaither have long understood how powerful fitness can be in building self-esteem. They met in a cycling class in 2014 and soon got to talking about their similar goals.
“We learned that our stories were different, but our passion for connecting fitness to empowerment and body-confidence were the same,” Charina told us.
Over the next five years, Charina and Jenny developed that shared mission into the Movemeant Foundation. Now, the organization includes a diverse team of women who vary in age, ethnicity, profession, and location, but who have a shared commitment to promoting active lifestyles.
“Our team has incorporated fitness and movement to overcome everything from eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and low self-esteem to confidence in their bodies,” said Charina.
Supporting Lifelong Commitments to Fitness and Confidence
Generation Confident is designed to help middle school girls during a critical time when they often develop body insecurities.
“We recognize that girls and women today are bombarded with images and messages that glorify perfection aligned singularly with their physique. However, our looks are only one of the many dimensions that make us who we are,” said Charina.
To combat those expectations, the foundation created a 14-week curriculum that discusses society’s often-unattainable beauty ideals. The program also takes the girls through fun fitness activities, including hip-hop dancing, yoga, and kickboxing.
Volunteers, teachers, or school administrators can use the Movemeant-designed curriculum to hold these workshops in their communities.
The program’s stated goal is to foster “discoverability of the many ways our bodies can move and helps them to develop healthy, positive relationships with their bodies.”
The foundation provides $1,000 Meant to Move Grants to girls between 8 and 16 years old to encourage participation in athletics. The grants are designed for girls who couldn’t afford to participate in sports otherwise.
According to the Movemeant Foundation website: “The goal of the grant is to fuel the positive power that sports have on a young woman’s self-confidence and help to strengthen its presence so it can have lasting effects throughout her life.”
Movemeant Foundation: Promoting Self-Care and Love Through Physical Activity
Women and girls in the United States clearly have a fraught relationship with physical fitness. At the same time, they may be held to unachievable beauty standards, and everything from their mental health and their careers to their dating lives can suffer as a result.
Some women and girls find fitness uncomfortable or unattainable because they’ve linked activity to the way they feel about their bodies. But the mission of the Movemeant Foundation is to challenge that point of view.
“The key to our emotionally balanced and mentally healthy life is our relationship to moving our bodies. Fitness and physical movement are our keys to unlocking the values of self-confidence, resilience, commitment, balance, and community,” Charina said.
As part of the foundation’s mission, Movemeant Challenges encourage women and girls to choose a fitness task that will challenge them in some way. It could be attending a Dare to Bare event or exercising at a gym, rather than at home, for the first time. Others may take a yoga or pilates class that’s been too intimidating for them to try.
“Allowing yourself the opportunity to overcome your barriers is one of the most empowering activities you can do. Done enough times, it allows us to create a new narrative that fuels our self-confidence and uncovers our greater sense of self,” Charina said.
Most people want to form healthy relationships with others — whether they’re romantic, familial, or friendly. But until they have self-worth, they can’t always be as confident in these relationships as they desire. That’s why Movemeant’s mission of learning to love and accept yourself through physical movement is so important.
“Having a strong relationship with ourselves is the cornerstone for having strong relationships with others,” Charina said.