This Girl Can

by Mike Diaper, Executive Director of Community Sport at Sport England

This week we’ve gone live with our new, bold campaign – This Girl Can - designed to give girls and women the confidence and belief they need to be more active.

Research shows us that two million fewer females than males are active, but demand tells us that 75 per cent of girls and women aged 14 – 40 want to do more. This Girl Can tackles head on the barriers that stop millions of women being more active.

It is the first campaign of its kind to feature everyday girls and women of all shapes, sizes and sporting abilities that sweat and jiggle when they exercise. It seeks to tell their real stories capturing images that are the complete opposite to the super-fit, stylised images of women we so often see.

The campaign shows people girls and women can relate to, who have similar lives, and face the same internal battles when it comes to exercise. Skyla, a 14 year-old from Forest Hill is a perfect example. Despite being, a self-described “girly girl”, Skyla loves the toughness of sport. Following the London 2012 Olympic Games she was inspired to take up boxing. She says the discipline needed for boxing is intense and has helped her focus at school, but you can still be a ‘girly girl’, and box as shown by the poster she features in which says “Under these gloves is a beautiful manicure”.

Before coming up with any ideas about how this campaign might look and feel, we listened very carefully to what girls and women were saying about why they felt sport and exercise was not for them. Issues, like time and cost, were common, but the fear of judgement was the one chord that struck the most. Worries about being judged for being the wrong size, not being fit or skilled enough came up again and again. The judgment can be an internal conversation within people’s heads.  It is the fear of not being good enough in some way that resonated with the women and girls, and the fear that you are the only one who feels like that is what we want to address. 

This Girl Can aims to celebrate the everyday girls and women that take part in sport and are physical active by saying that it really doesn’t matter if you are a bit rubbish or completely brilliant, and the main thing is that you are doing something.

The campaign will use prime time TV advertising, billboards and cinema and shopping centre screens to put images of real girls and women exercising on the national stage and use social media to start a debate about attitudes to female sport.

The impact of the campaign will show that every girl or woman no matter what shape, size or ability can take part in sport and physical activity without worrying about fear of judgement. The overriding message is no matter what This Girl Can!