Sport England has launched the This Girl Can campaign to increase the number of women actively participating in regular sport or physical recreation with the aim of knocking down the barriers that may stand in the way of those who have fears about actively exercising.
The campaign will include prime time TV advertising as well as being displayed on billboards, in shopping centres and at cinemas to help push the message that women of all shapes and sizes can exercise regularly regardless of their knowledge or ability.
The campaign will use messages that will certainly grab attention with lines such as “Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox” and “I kick balls, deal with it” set to be included, with an aim to show what real women look like during training rather than what is seen in mainstream media.
According to a Sport England study, two million fewer women than men play sport regularly from 14 to 40 years old, but 75 per cent admit that they want to be more active. More alarmingly, a large proportion of women said they were put off by a fear of what they looked like during exercise, their level of ability or allocating their spare time.
22-year-old Grace Monksfield Hamming, from London, is one of the girls fronting the campaign, and she combines her full-time theatre arts degree with cycling across the capital.
“I have always been active, and now I incorporate exercise into my everyday life by cycling all over London whether that's to get to work, to go out in the evening, or wherever,” she said as quoted in the Daily Mail.
“I'm not an athlete, and I wouldn't describe myself as super fit - nor am I fast on my bike.
“When I first started cycling I didn't want to be taken seriously as I'm not an athlete, far from it, so I put flowers on my bike.
“I get energy from cycling and it makes me feel free and confident.
“I think that comes from exercise generally, not just cycling, and because it's just part of my life, I don't even think of it as exercise any more.”
Sport England CEO Jennie Price explained that the results from the research showed an alarming disparity between men and women who were actively exercising on a regular basis.
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 per cent 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 judgment.
“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.”
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