New campaign to give women more confidence to exercise
Posted: Mon, 12 Jan 2015 16:16
A bold new campaign set to tackle head on the barriers that stop millions of women being more active has been launched today.
Led by Sport England, the This Girl Can campaign is the first of its kind to feature women of all shapes, sizes and sporting abilities that sweat and jiggle as they exercise. It seeks to tell the real story of women who exercise and play sport by using images that are the complete opposite of the idealised and stylised images of women we are now used to seeing.
The campaign doesn't hold back in trying to encourage women to beat their barriers. "Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox" and "I kick balls, deal with it" are among the hard hitting lines used in the campaign to prompt a change in attitudes and help boost women's confidence.
This Girl Can will use prime time TV advertising, billboards and cinema and shopping centre screens to put images of real women exercising on the national stage and use social media to start a debate about attitudes to female sport.
It comes as research, carried out by Sport England, reveals that by every measure, fewer women than men play sport regularly - two million fewer 14-40 year olds in total. Despite this, 75 per cent say they want to be more active. In some other European countries, this disparity doesn't exist.
Further research into what's stopping women turning their ambitions into reality found that a fear of judgement - on appearance, ability or how they chose to spend time on themselves - puts women of all ages off exercising.
The findings were the driving force behind the campaign's creation, which aims to empower women and encourage more to get active.
Sport England CEO, Jennie Price, said:
"The figures on participation are crystal clear. There is a significant gender gap, with two million more men than women exercising or playing sport regularly. I believe we can tackle this gap, because our research shows that 75% of women would like to do more.
"Before we began this campaign, we looked very carefully at what women were saying about why they felt sport and exercise was not for them. Some of the issues, like time and cost, were familiar, but one of the strongest themes was a fear of judgement. Worries about being judged for being the wrong size, not fit enough and not skilled enough came up time and again. Every single woman I have talked to about this campaign – and that is now hundreds – has identified with this, and it is that fear of not being 'good enough' in some way, and the fear that you are the only one who feels like that, that we want to address.
"In This Girl Can we want to tell the real story of women who exercise and play sport. They come in all shapes and sizes and all levels of ability. They have a myriad of reasons for doing what they do. If you are wondering if you should join them – or carry on – this campaign says it really doesn't matter if you are a bit rubbish or completely brilliant, the main thing is that you are a woman and you are doing something, and that deserves to be celebrated."
The campaign celebrates women who have found their own ways of breaking down their barriers. The women featuring in the campaign include:
Victoria, 29, is a paediatric nurse in A&E, from East London. While a lot of girls say that getting sweaty isn't feminine, Victoria isn't one of them. In fact, Victoria is proud of getting hot, red faced and sweaty. She said: "At first sweating may seem gross, but getting sweaty and red-faced shows your body's working hard and that's something to be proud of, not worry about. You have to put your shoulders back and hold your head high when you leave the gym or finish a run because having a sweaty face shows you've achieved something. It gives me more energy as well - I have to fit exercise around shift work because I'm a nurse and I often do a spin class before a night shift because it sets me up for what's ahead."
Kelly, 31, is a single working mum of three from Bury, near Manchester. Kelly has found a distinct way to fit exercise into her life since she had her third child – by working out at home, with her children. Kelly said: "After I had my third child I just felt sluggish, I didn't have any energy. I was due to go back to work and didn't feel good about myself and that gave me the kick-start I needed to find a way to prioritise getting active. I make exercise a family affair. My kids are part of the workout routine – we put on music or a DVD on and just go for it together. It doesn't feel like a pain to do it because it's fun, and part of our life, and I really hope it has a positive effect on how my children view exercise as they grow up, so being active won't feel like a chore, but just something they naturally do."
Plans to launch the campaign were announced towards the end of 2014 and it is already resonating with thousands of women through social media. As part of the campaign, Sport England is working with sports bodies, local authorities and companies across England to make sure they're providing sporting opportunities that meet the needs of women inspired by the campaign.
For more about This Girl Can, go to thisgirlcan.co.uk where you can find out about the women in the campaign, get tips on how to get active and join the national debate.