The New This Girl Can Campaign For Women In Sport Has Us Reaching For Our Sports Bras

Hannah Nathanson
Photo credit: This Girl Can


If the January weather has you feeling lack lustre about your fitness routine and pulling on your lycra leggings to go for an outdoor jog then we're here to serve you some serious wellness inspiration.

On Tuesday, non-departmental governing body Sport England released its new This Girl Can campaign, which aims to break down some of the biggest taboos surrounding women and sport.

The advert highlights the unfiltered reality of women exercising with issues that are rarely discussed in public, such as the menopause and period pain.

In the minute-long clip, one woman can be seen cradling a hot water bottle against her lower abdomen, another cares for her newborn baby, a pair enjoy at at-home workout together and one pulls up her gym trousers while her tampon string is on show.

Photo credit: This Girl Can

According to Sport England, the aim of the campaign is to close the gender gap in sport, and encourage women of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels to engage in more physical activity.

The advert comes five years after the organisation launched its first This Girl Can campaign showing women of all sizes getting into sport. The award-winning advert pushed the needle in terms of how women are represented when it comes to exercise.

And it worked, helping over 500,000 women and girls to become more physically active, overcoming feelings of embarrassment, or being too worried about what others thought.

However, the chief executive of Sport England, Tim Hollingsworth, has said that many of the fears and hesitations around women and sport are still an obstacle.

‘In 2020 many of the same fears still exist even though, thanks in large part to the impact of This Girl Can, more brands feature more relatable imagery than ever before and there is a far greater awareness in the sector of how to help and support women to get and stay active’, Hollingsworth said in an interview with The Observer.

According to research carried out by Sport England, 63% of women who see slim, toned bodies on social media sites say this has a negative impact on them, while nearly a quarter (24%) who follow fitness influencers, say they make them feel bad about themselves.

Photo credit: This Girl Can

Hollingsworth continued, adding that its new campaign deals directly with issues that are considered taboo and are rarely discussed when it comes to women and sport, and how much they affect women's decision to exercise.

'A lot has changed in the public narrative around the gender gap and equality in sport,' said Hollingsworth.

'And This Girl Can in 2020 will reflect that and be a bold, supportive voice, standing right alongside women, provoking debate and shining a spotlight on the issues that need to be seen and talked about.'

In 2016, British tennis player Heather Watson put losing her Australian Open round down to 'girl things' in a post-match interview.

The athlete said that she felt 'light-headed' and 'low on energy' during the match because she was on her period. The comments sparked controversy over whether she had shared too much information, and yet the reality is that these things aren't widely discussed in sport but are a reality for half of the population.

While conversations around periods have opened up a lot in the past few years - from period poverty to social media campaigns featuring A-listers including Adwoah Aboah - it's clear that when it comes to sport there's still a lot more ground to cover and more discussion to be had.

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