'20 years too late': athletes push for change in industry

23rd January 2018 5:00 AM
Author Taryn Bashford (in yellow) and athletes (L-R) Jane Larkin, Chloe Mclennan, Kristina Lane and Anneleise Jefferies at the book launch of the Harper Effect at Annie's Books. Author Taryn Bashford (in yellow) and athletes (L-R) Jane Larkin, Chloe Mclennan, Kristina Lane and Anneleise Jefferies at the book launch of the Harper Effect at Annie's Books. Amber Macpherson

A PEREGIAN Beach author, tired of not seeing enough sporty female role models in literature, has taken matters into her own hands.

Taryn Bashford said she hoped her first novel The Harper Effect would encourage young women to continue their dreams of becoming sporting legends.

"When girls get to their early teens, they can sometimes feel like they don't want to look silly, they're self conscious,” Ms Bashford said, speaking at the book's launch at Annie's Books in Peregian Beach last week.

"Things like smelling sweaty, looking silly in front of their peers or boys. It's all peer pressure, a lot of it.

"Instead of bombarding girls with images of external beauty that they should live up to, let's bombard them with confident, athletic, female role models.”

The Harper Effect tells the story of a 16-year-old girl who wants to make it to the top in the professional tennis world, and the trials and tribulations that follow with having a family member in elite sport.

As part of the book launch, Ms Bashford invited four young female athletes to speak as a panel, who all agreed the book painted a realistic picture of their own experiences.

"For young girls to read a book like that when they're very unsure about a lot of things, to know they're not alone in these things, it's quite influential,” champion triathlete Annaleise Jefferies said.

"It really captures everything that happens, how you feel when you're racing.”

Elite sprinter Jane Larkin said there needed to be less emphasis on image and more on strength and ability.

"We need to see a focus less on what women look like, and focus on the wins and the sport,” she said.

"We're still 20 years too late. Women aren't making the money men are in sport.

"I think it's fantastic the women's AFL is going for air time on TV and it's doing so well.

"We (women) are just as interesting, stop telling us that we're not. Those attitudes need to change.”