By Holly Sampson (BA Middle Eastern Studies and World Philosophies)
‘A kick right in the stereotypes’. ‘I can give mud mask a new meaning’. ‘Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox’. ‘My gameface has lipstick on it’. ‘Hot and not bothered’
These are just a few of the campaign slogans used by The National Lottery’s This Girl Can Campaign. First set up in 2015, its aim is to encourage active women everywhere in their endeavours and it all revolves around one powerful insight: the biggest barrier preventing women and girls from getting active and participating in sport is their fear of judgement. A fear that they will be judged due to their lack of skill or ability; their appearance; or even the fact that they are spending some time on themselves instead of their loved ones.
Sport England did some research that revealed that one in every four women claimed that they “hate the way I look when I exercise or play sport”. But this fear isn’t just skin deep; research also showed that a quarter of women believed they didn’t have the skill or ability to perform well in their chosen sport. It is this fear that makes women want to participate less and so the This Girl Can campaign was set up to target exactly that.
Since it has been set up there has been an outpouring of motivational videos, pictures and stories that demonstrate participation of real women in an array of different sporting activities, showing that it doesn’t matter what you look like, or how good you are, it simply matters that you are doing it. One photo in a particular stands out here – it is of a red-faced woman cycling up a hill and the slogan reads, ‘I’m slow but I’m lapping everyone on the couch’. This seemingly epitomises the campaign; it is all about participation and enjoying yourself.
This year SOAS has decided to participate in the This Girl Can campaign running events from throughout November. Keep your eyes peeled for more information about how you can get involved in the coming weeks!