Personal views from University of Bath researchers on the news of the day

This Girl Can

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📥  Heath Science & Technology

Professor Simone Fullagar and Dr Jessica Francombe-Webb are members of the Physical Cultural Studies research group within our Department for Health. Both are interested in physical activity and sport and the way that this is both represented and experienced by women across the lifespan. They are interested in analyzing gender issues and inequality in the media, wider popular culture and policy as well as first-person accounts of women's engagement in physical activity and it representation.

This week Simone and Jess wrote an article for the Conversation UK about Sport England's new 'This Girl Can' campaign, designed to get more women into sport. Their article has since attracted significant media attention.

Commenting, Dr Francombe-Webb said:

"Our article published in The Conversation is a critique of Sport England's recent campaign 'This Girl Can'. We highlight the way that the campaign rightly focuses on a range of exercising bodies that are not normally privileged on television screens but also draw attention to the way that the accompanying text reiterates the way that women's (rather than girls) participation in sport and physical activity is often predicated on their desire to look and feel sexy (there is nothing innovative about this!).

"This narrow focus on finding body confidence through female sexiness reinforces individualized approaches that not only still position women as 'responsible' for their lack of participation but re-establishes that it is a woman's responsibility to 'change' in order to gain the benefits of active lifestyles. This fails to address the material realities of women's lives nor does it account for other reasons why women might want to be active: to strengthen friendships, reduce the stress of work and caring roles, providing emotional and physical strength."

Read Simone and Jess' full piece for the Conversation UK 'This Girl Can campaign is all about sex, not sport'

What do you think?

2 Responses to “This Girl Can”

  1. C Adams on

    I totally disagree with your article. The campaign has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with exercise. As a 40-something female who exercises everyday, I think the campaign is likely to motivate those who are too embarrassed or afraid to exercise because of feeling self-conscious of body image. The campaign is saying you can exercise and feel good no matter what your body shape and size. Indeed, they deliberately show women sweating and exercising without make-up and looking distinctly unsexy. I have no objection to being called a girl in this context. It depends on ownership of the word. I would say this was about girls and for girls. Not men using the word to patronise.
    I think you totally miss the point and would perhaps be better getting down the gym rather than pontificating and over-analysing.
    As a final point, on Saturday night I was watching TV with my 16 year old daughter - who never exercises, when the advert came on. She said the it was inspirational and would definitely motivate her to take up exercise. I think that says it all.


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