This week, Sport England released the advert campaign “This Girl Can”. An advert showing women of colour, with ages ranging between 14 and 51 and of varying body types. However, this advert has been deemed by some as sexist for reasons I cannot understand. This advert is set to the Missy Elliott track “Get Your Freak On” with unedited or strategically lit shots of normal women doing exercise.
I really like this advert, it is a really fun, effective piece of marketing. As much as women like Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Nicola Addams have done for improving the attitudes of women in sport; it can be difficult for women who are not necessarily athletic to engage with sport through their adverts. “This Girl Can” shows women of different shapes and sizes enjoying themselves while doing sport.
Although I appreciate that the term “girl” may not be welcome to some older women, I don’t feel that this is enough to claim sexism. Should the issue being focussed on be why women, and especially teenage girls, are so reluctant to exercise? As a teenage girl myself I can only really speak from personal experience, but a lot of girls I know are reluctant to do sport because they are worried about being perceived as less feminine. The worry of building up “too much” (?!) muscle and looking more masculine seems to come from the media’s depiction of what is attractive and appropriate for women’s appearance. Although countless female celebrities are photographed going to the gym, they are criticised for looking “bad’ (they’re going to sweat for God sake!). Maybe what those who are crying sexism at this advert, as well as everyone else, should be more active in the media’s idea on beauty and its effect on women and their health.