I love the new campaign by Sport England. The ‘This Girl Can’ advert demonstrates that all women, no matter what age or body shape, can find a sport or fitness activity they love. It doesn’t have to be what the latest fad is, it doesn’t have to be about ‘weight’ or ‘appearance’. Instead to me it is saying:
Get out there, enjoy yourself, make new friends, discover a new talent with the added bonus of being fit at the same time!
I know that it is not to everyone’s taste. Some people from the University of Bath believe it is ‘unfeminist’ but I can’t agree. There is no sexualisation as far as I can see and it is a celebration of sport and activity. I watched the advert and hoped that many other women would be inspired to take up something new or return to a sport they once loved and in their hearts still love.
And then there are these ‘no excuses’ memes which quite frankly don’t help. Seeing people in their bikinis flashing rock hard abs do absolutely nothing for me. Some would argue that I’m jealous. I would argue that sitting in the gym for six days a week, eating next to nothing and posing in skimpy outfits is nothing for me to be jealous of. And I’m definitely not jealous because I went for a run today in the bright Winter’s sun, enjoying the crisp air hitting my cheeks. Running is my motivation, not abs. Abs will never be my motivation.
Then there is the no excuse element. I feel that this always strikes an accusatory tone. It may be motivation for some but I know plenty of people who will be ambivalent to it. In fact I think it could turn a lot of women off exercise. Plus why presume that all people want to go to that extreme? I know so many people who have run marathons and ultra marathons (including myself) but we don’t go round pushing it on people, because we know it will just
piss people off be irritating.
As a health professional I want people to be healthy but also enjoy what they are doing to make themselves healthy. Being thin/slim/skinny and being fit for training or for sport do not necessarily go hand in hand. And yet women continue to have ‘aesthetics’ pushed on them rather than healthy, achievable goals.
I hope that the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign continues to be the success that it is. I never believed that after having two children I would have run two marathons, but I have and it is something that can never be taken away from me. This girl definitely ‘did’ and will continue to do so for as long as I can (and am uninjured). I will never have a six pack. It has never bothered me to have a six pack. My ‘excuse’ is that I don’t see a six pack/abs as particularly important to me. Give me a running goal though and I’m all over it like fake tan on a Women’s Health cover shoot.
(As an aside, I don’t have abs but I have been told I have quite a nice backside, however I think it would be a tad inappropriate to ask my sons to point at my arse while I pose in shorts barely covering me. That would be weird and I would also like my sons to know that a woman can be strong for many reasons, intellectually, emotionally to name just two, not just for her ability to squat a bar.)