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This Girl Can campaign celebrated for featuring 'real' female fitness stories

By Tom Walker    15 Jan 2020
We've designed the new adverts to show things we're still not seeing
– Lisa O'Keefe

The latest edition of the highly-successful This Girl Can Campaign has been celebrated for its "taboo-busting" and "brave" take on what female fitness really looks like.

The new body-positive advert is seen as a perfect antidote to what has been described as "unrealistic and negative images of women" often used in fitness-related online content and media marketing campaigns.

According to Sport England, the film has been designed to show the raw, unfiltered reality of women exercising in whatever way that works for them.

The advert has been created on the back of research by Sport England, which revealed that 63 per cent of women who see slim, toned bodies on social media sites say this has a negative impact on them.

The research also highlighted the possible negative role played by so-called influencers.

Less than a fifth (18 per cent) of women who follow fitness influencers find their highly-polished and curated personalities relatable, while nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of women are actually negatively affected by influencer content – as it often makes them feel bad about themselves.

Sport England has now called for influencers, media and brands to feature more realistic and diverse imagery of women to promote sport and physical activity.

Lisa O’Keefe, Sport England director of insight, said she hopes the advert will convince women they don’t need to be in shape or super confident in their bodies to take part.

“This Girl Can is about helping women feel confident, so they can overcome the fears about being judged that our research showed was stopping many from getting active,” O'Keefe said.

“Since we launched five years ago, we're seeing more relatable images in advertising and social media, but there's a long way to go until women's lives are being shown in a realistic way.

“We've designed the new adverts to show things we're still not seeing - women using exercise to manage period symptoms or juggling motherhood - all while celebrating women of all shapes, sizes, abilities and backgrounds.”

The This Girl Can campaign was developed by Sport England to promote sport among women and is now in its fifth year. The first television advert was aired on 12 January 2015.

It was created to tackle the significant gender gap found in sports and exercise, to build women’s confidence around being active and help them meet the Chief Medical Officers’ guidance. The campaign was based on the insight that 75% of women say they want to do more sporting activities or exercise, but one of the unifying barriers found to be holding them back is a fear of judgement.

Since its launch, the campaign has been credited with inspiring more than 3.5 million women to get more physically active.

The new campaign advert in full:

The film has been designed to show the 'raw, unfiltered reality of women exercising in whatever way that works for them' / Sport England
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