In recent weeks I’ve noticed a takeover on my bus stops, shopping centres and tv screen. Those women in ads, looking perfectly coiffed and slightly dead behind the eyes have disappeared, and been replaced by women of all backgrounds and sizes dripping with sweat, charging up hills, dancing round gyms or even charging into the boxing ring, all as part of the #thisgirlcan campaign.
The #thisgirlcan campaign is aimed at encouraging women of all abilities, shapes and sizes to participate more in sports and exercise more often, and challenge their fear of judgement that stops them from doing so. Approximately 75% of women between the ages of 14-40 state they want to be more active, yet there are two million fewer women than men that regularly participate in sports.
Every woman has felt intimidated when trying out a new sport or in new surroundings at some point, particularly when you’re by yourself. That little voice, niggling in the back of your head, questioning your ability, the competency of others, whether you will be ostracised or not based on those criteria, how you will look. The list goes on.
This uncertainty is then compounded with the issue of body image; look at anything related to fitness in the media or in fashion, and it will be closely followed by images of tall, slim girls without any muscle mass, dieting tips, or clickbait articles varying between cellulite eradication or how to make your bum look bigger. Not very representative of the general public.
And not very fun either. Who wants to spend their precious free time counting calories, or toiling in the gym for sculpted abs, while you spend the rest of your time miserable and obsessive? Not you, and if the 5/10 diet is anything to go on, nor does anyone around you, either.
Which is another reason why I think the #thisgirlcan campaign is so important – it reminds everyone that sport is for fun. You don’t have to be the best, or work towards winning a competition, just enjoy the sport you’re participating in.
As someone who enjoys trying out new sports, and for the most part has little regard for the judgement of others, even I have felt somewhat disheartened if I haven’t picked a sport up straight-away or felt judged on my ability, like I was in a contest I didn’t know I had registered for. All you can do during times like those is ask yourself “Does it really matter?” and remember why it is you decided to try out the sport in the first place. And if you don’t enjoy it the first time round, ask yourself why and find alternative solutions.
So the next time you start to feel down or intimidated, just remember the message of #thisgirlcan. Fitness is for everyone, and comes in all sizes and ability.