This Girl Can. It’s an empowering advert that has taken the UK by storm and is the latest campaign developed by Sport England and other organisations which celebrates women – of all ages, ethnicities and sizes – who are physically active.
It’s a great campaign which seeks to encourage more girls and women to take up sports and exercise without fear of judgement.
The campaign comes as a study conducted in the UK by The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) found that only 12% of girls aged 14 do enough exercise which benefits their health. In addition, they also found that 15% of girls aged 11 – 15 participate in the recommended level of fitness.
With one in every three children in the UK being classed as overweight, it is important to look at both our eating habits and exercise patterns. It’s important to understand that what we eat has a bigger effect on our bodies than just exercise alone. After all, what’s the point of sweating it out for 90 minutes if you’re going to go eat McDonalds?
I started of as someone who was painfully self conscious of how they looked. Up until puberty struck, I enjoyed competitive sports, netball, hockey and swimming but once nature took its course I began to feel terribly self conscious. I have very broad shoulders and throughout my younger years I was always being compared to my slimmer, more “beautiful” cousins. It created a host of issues for me: I didn’t feel good enough for anyone or anything. I began to hate myself and became withdrawn. At my lowest point I stopped eating and my iron levels became dangerously low. When my hair began to weaken and I didn’t have enough energy to play hockey, I decided to stop destroying myself because I wasn’t someone else’s version of “beautiful.”
This is what I love about the advert; it doesn’t just show women with washboard flat abs and a perky bum. It shows women of all shapes, sizes and colours looking after themselves, taking action of their health and self esteem while having lots of fun. Who doesn’t feel amazing after a good workout? As much as we fear being judged or are scared of looking like an idiot, most people are there for the same reasons you are: for their health and to feel stronger.
If I had one problem with it, it would be the use of the word “girl.” I emphasise this is because language is crucial and especially whenever you’re trying to empower a segment of society. For example, consider sporting/energy drink adverts which involve men. Advertisers never refer to them as “boys” but as chiseled, muscular adrenaline fuelled men because the word “boy” softens the Bruce-Willis-mixed-with-The-Rock image they are going for. While the overall advert is extremely positive, the word “girl” softens and takes away any feelings of female empowerment that are being conveyed.
Nevertheless, it is a massive step in the right direction and follows other feel good campaigns. I truly hope that it does inspire more and more women to take up regular exercise, do it for themselves and have fun!