‘Healthy body image is not something that you’re going to learn from fashion magazines’ – Erin Heatherton
Something that’s been all over TV and social media this week is Sport England’s #thisgirlcan campaign which, as explained by them on their website is This Girl Can is here to inspire women to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgement is a barrier that can be overcome. Here’s the advert that’s been shown on TV:
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am and always have been a massive supporter of women doing exercise, healthy body image and women and girls being supportive of each other (in fact, you can read a blog post I did a year or so ago about this here). I think women are faced daily with a barrage of totally unattainable body images and feel an enormous pressure to look or dress a certain way. We aren’t ever really encouraged to feel good about who we are or celebrate all the beautiful differences in body type. So in that respect, I think this advert and campaign is bloody brilliant. Hooray for us wobbly women everywhere!
Now, I’m sure what I’m about to say if going to have some radical hardcore feminists want to revoke my woman card but what I can’t help but think when I watch this advert is, what about the boys? When did a healthy body image become exclusively a women thing?
The National Eating Disorder Association reports that large scale surveys concluded that male body image concerns have dramatically increased over the past three decades from 15% to 43% of men being dissatisfied with their bodies; rates that are now comparable to those found in women. So if the statistics are there, where’s the love for the men?
If you go to my gym on any given day, among all the super fit fitties there are just as many normal sized average looking guys who are there, probably after a hard day at work, pounding away on the treadmill or going for it on the crosstrainer trying to lose those love handles just the same as the women are. So where’s the advert celebrating their effort? Where’s the advert for my friend Steve who, after worrying he couldn’t keep up with his young son, started swimming and lost 3 stone? I think men are faced with just as many unhealthy and unattainable body images and impressions that they think girls want them to look like so why is it the girls get all the glory? Why, when you read an article about dieting, it always talks in terms of ‘dress sizes’ or ‘fitting into those skinny jeans’. No fair.
I get the impression that adverts like these and things like female only gyms stem from the perception that more women would exercise if they were among other women and not feel judged by men. Well, I totally disagree with that because in my experience, no one judges women more than other women!
I realise I’ve probably asked more questions than I’ve answered in this but I think for me it’s just about celebrating everyone who has the courage to admit their not happy with the way they look and get out there and do something positive to change it, whether you male or female. And perhaps have a campaign in the future called #thispersoncan!