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Sweat and fears

Look at the cover of any fitness magazine—or the imagery used by gyms like Les Mills—and you’re likely to see beautiful, fit people with flat stomachs, toned limbs, great tans and big smiles. But This Girl Can, a national campaign by Sport England and other organisations that aims to get “women to do their thing, no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets”, has taken a more realistic approach by showing everyday women being active. 

As it says: “This Girl Can is here to inspire women to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgement is a barrier that can be overcome.”

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The campaign also features posters showing exercising women with slogans such as: “I jiggle, therefore I am”, “Hot and not bothered” and “Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox”. 

“We looked very carefully at what women were saying about why they felt sport and exercise was not for them,” Jennie Price, chief executive of Sport England told The Guardian. “One of the strongest themes was a fear of judgment. Worries about being judged for for being the wrong size, not fit enough and not skilled enough came up time and time again. We want to address that.”

Research had found that “two million fewer women are regularly participating in sport or exercise than men, despite 75 percent of women aged 14 to 40 saying they would like to do more”. 

While many have applauded the empowering and realistic nature of the campaign, which was created by FCB Inferno and didn’t feature any models, a column in The Guardian criticised it for continuing to objectify female flesh—even if that flesh wouldn’t generally be seen on TV—and calling women girls. But at a time when some believe the world is fucking insane, it sometimes pays to look on the body-positive side. 

And in other empowerment news, time has been called on the page three girl. UK paper The Sun said that last Friday’s edition was the last that would “carry an image of a glamour model with bare breasts on that page”. Critics had long complained about the sexist and anachronistic feature, but it remained popular with readers. It’s thought the feature will continue online. But The Guardian understands “the change may be reversed, it is understood, if it results in a noticeable Sun sales decline”. 

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