The Great Outdoors are Inclusive Yet Diverse: You Should Be Too!
By Whitney Chandler
Exploring the outdoors shouldn’t be limited to a certain demographic, a specific type of person. Bold Betties is against the notion that only upper class gorgeous women in puffy coats should be able to summit mountains, explore the backcountry and have all the wilderness access available to them. However, this is not to say we don’t want to join them.
Although the realm of outdoor recreation is making a positive change, until recently many advertisements portrayed a certain type of woman as the representation of the outdoorsy woman. We are all familiar with her — the perfectly white smile, the thick side braid sticking out from under an all too clean beanie, washboard abs and an even tan without a wrinkle from the sun. The typical outdoor model is incredibly far from reality. The reality is that the outdoors is an equal level playing field for every human— no matter the socioeconomic background, ability, color, shape, sexual orientation or size.
Diversity and inclusiveness in an outdoor environment are key to helping others feel comfortable exploring new areas and finding their own boldness. Testing your boundaries is a large part of what makes exploring wilderness and the outdoors so much fun. For most of us, it is about the adrenaline rush and the unknown. Supporting others during their explorations is key to encouraging them to come back out and try it again.
Trying new sports and activities can be a bit nerve wracking. Having others treat you with anything but kindness can make the challenge just that harder to overcome. You can actively practice the act of kindness by getting someone outside that could use some natural healing. The outdoors offers the ability to heal whether you are on a private trip, in an instructional class or through nature therapy to help heal trauma (something more than 76 percent of Americans over the age of 17 have experienced). Keep this in mind if you feel the need to be competitive with someone who may be picking up a new activity faster than you — encourage rather than discourage someone to shine in their boldness.
If you are an experienced outdoors woman, consider that a person you may be exploring with might feel like they suffer from imposter syndrome due to what they see as the mold the media has given us. We want everyone to get out and enjoy open spaces and public lands to offer reflections form many different lenses. We all perceive this earth differently and that is something to be celebrated not discounted.