Glossy images of beautiful female bodies are often used to sell products ranging from food to fashion and we are accustomed to seeing perfectly-toned, airbrushed women in magazines, on billboards and television.
So it was refreshing to watch real women getting sweaty and red-faced as they swam, ran, cycled, climbed, boxed, kicked balls and danced in Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign to encourage more of the fairer sex to take up exercise regardless of their shape, size and ability.

The ground-breaking video was aired on television earlier this year in direct response to research which revealed that two million fewer women than men aged between 14 and 40 in this country play sport regularly. Despite this, 75% of women say they want to be more active and cite fear of judgement as a major factor holding them back.
This Girl Can was the first campaign of its kind to show women who sweat and jiggle as they exercise. This was no Nike or Adidas commercial featuring high-performance, professional athletes, it showed the reality of exercise for ordinary people: hard work, t-shirts dripping with perspiration, hair flying everywhere and even wobbling flesh. The sound track of Missy Elliott’s Get Ur Freak On blared out as the women gave it their all.

In my view, this was far more inspirational than a preachy advert with a flawless model telling us about the benefits of leading a more active lifestyle. This Girl Can is helping to break down gender stereotypes which are preventing women from getting involved in sport.
Viewing figures suggest I’m not alone in my outlook. The 90-second This Girl Can video ( by London agency FCB Inferno went viral generating over 16 million views on Facebook and YouTube.
From the positive tweets and photographs on its website (, it appears the message is getting through and women are identifying with the campaign.
Let’s hope this kick-starts the eradication of the gender gap on sport and exercise participation. Right – I’m off to put my trainers on.