It’s been few months now that I’m into fitness and that’s quite a big thing as I’ve never been a sporty gal. After discovering that I love running – what a surprise! – and spending at the whole summer doing around six kilometers every other day, I started going to the gym quite regularly. I’m doing it for myself, it’s a commitment that I took to myself and nobody else, and when I saw the This Girl Can campaign I was like: “yes, that’s totally me”.
Developed by Sport England, This Girl Can is a campaign to promote sport among UK women, encouraging them to embrace a healthier and more active lifestyle, no matter what their age, shape or size is. While we are used to watch sport ads and tv commercials featuring young, athletic girls who do anything without struggling or sweating and the truth is other thing. Most women who start doing sport because they feel (and are) out of shape, don’t have a fit body: they’re probably overweight or in need to build some muscles. And when they run or dance or get crazy on the spinning bicycle, they sweat, a lot. That’s the point in doing any kind of physical activity: you sweat, struggle, feel like your lungs are exploding and your muscles breaking, end up with your face totally red and then you take a shower, go home and feel that you did something good for yourself.
The first commercial of This Girl Can quickly became number 2 UK trend on Twitter and got around 1 million views on Facebook in less than a day. Talking about social networks, the official website is completely integrated with all the main social platforms, so that in the “Feel Inspired” section you can browse among the content published by all the women who are embracing the campaign with the hashtag #thisgirlcan. Other sections of the website include a Discover page where you can get useful information about several activities, from boxing to climbing, and Meet the Girls, with all the commercials and the behind the scenes videos.
What I love the most and what makes this campaign so successful, is that it simply features real women, people I could meet every day, like Grace, a 22-year-old student who likes to go cycling whenever she has time, or Julie, a nurse from Manchester who loves zumba because it makes her feel free to shout, scream, dance and sing. I could be one of them and that’s really engaging.
As for the “feminist content” of the campaign – the idea that women can struggle and sweat like men – I think that this should not be the point and I would be actually pleased to see something similar for a male target too. It’s true that men tend to enjoy team sports like soccer or basket much more than women, but it’s also true that many of them are just spectators and do not actually play. And even if the gym might look the “land of testosterone”, we should not forget that there are so many guys who don’t reflect the Big Jim stereotype and who feel embarrassed by their weight or lack of hot biceps and abs as much as women are not happy with their hips or thighs. I’d like to see something as motivational and inspirational for them, too.