Young. Toned. Fit. This is the stereotypical image of women we’re used to seeing on social media influencer sites. The fact that it bears little resemblance to the majority of women is what This Girl Can’s campaign aims to challenge.

Exercise for All

Sport England originally developed their This Girl Can campaign to promote sport amongst women. Theirs was the first campaign of its kind to challenge the misguided notion that only slim, young, fit women can or should engage in exercise. Now, five years after the campaign first launched, their ads show women of all shapes, sizes, ages and sporting abilities enjoying exercise – and even getting stuck into physically demanding pastimes such as boxing, weight training, climbing and cross country running.

The Results

It’s great that Sport England says it has encouraged 4 million women to get active since launching This Girl Can, yet 40% of women are still not getting the recommended 150 minutes of activity a week. It doesn’t help matters that 63% of women who see young, toned bodies on social media sites say it has a negative impact on them. Or that nearly a quarter follow a fitness influencer who they say makes them feel bad about themselves.

Social (Media) Conditioning

Research found that women want to see more content they can relate to when it comes to exercise. 31% say they’d feel better about exercising without makeup if they saw more images of other women doing the same. A quarter say the same about sweating. To help remedy this situation, Sport England wants influencers, the media and brands to begin using images that more honestly represent real women, their wobbly bits and all. This Girl Can already has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram, and there’s no doubting that seeing realistic images on social media will go a long way towards helping women feel more comfortable about exercising.

A Sweatier Future

What I love about this campaign is that it empowers women in all kinds of ways. It encourages more of them to exercise because they’ll be healthier and fitter, and get a genuine buzz out of doing it. And it inspires them to be more confident about themselves, rather than just trying to fit a marketing stereotype.

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