There is a great new ad campaign appearing on social media called “This Girl Can.” Just catching sight of the ad featuring an average – read realistic – female runner with the caption, “I jiggle, therefore I am” was enough to convince me to watch the accompanying video.
The opening scene shows a woman walking through a locker room towards the deck of an indoor swimming pool. The shot focuses in on her butt as she pulls the bottom of her bathing suit into place. The snap of the suit is accentuated with a thunk from the soundtrack Get Your Freak On by Missy Elliott. The woman is not perfect, certainly not a bikini model but is – GASP – an actual real live swimmer and – DOUBLE GASP – her body has not been digitally edited.
The video goes on to showcase “real” women running, dancing, boxing, spinning, playing sports etc. The entire piece includes women of different shapes, sizes, colours, ages and abilities relishing in the activities.
The company that produced the video “street casted” it meaning “casting director Leanne Flinn approached ordinary women from across the U.K. outside gyms and football pitches, and even while out on a run.” She says their “focus was on finding real women doing what they do to feature in the ad rather than adopt the kind of Nike/Adidas take on athletes which, for some, though aspirational is also quite alienating.”
The ad was commissioned by Sports England to address the fact two million fewer women than men exercise in the U.K. Of course there are a lot of practical reasons for that discrepancy which leave women less time for exercise. However they also noted that the fear of being judged was a huge concern holding women back from exercising. A fear that many women, including myself, have experienced either at the gym, on a run or on a playing field. We fear being thought of as too fat or too skinny, too uncoordinated, too short, too tall, too aggressive, too shy, too slow just too – insert your insecurity here. And if it has been a long time since you have exercised the fear increases exponentially.
[break][/break]The fact that this ad was made to address these concerns makes me applaud it but the fact that they do it so well is why I unabashedly love it. I have watched it many times trying to figure what about it appeals to me. I love the music. I love that these are real women not actors. I love the fact that they chose a variety of shapes, sizes, and activities. I love that many of the women are sweating profusely and looking “hot.”
[break][/break]One of my favourite moments is when it gets to the part in the song where Elliott yells out QUI-ET and there are several frames of women taking breaks in their workout and the only sound you can hear is them breathing hard from exertion. The kind of breathing where you are trying to catch your breath and you feel good. Good that you have pushed yourself, good that you have gotten to rest, and good knowing that you will press on to the finish.
[break][/break]But I think the best aspect of the ad is that it shows women having a good time, moving their bodies and enjoying it! What a concept. So much of the media trying to coerce us to exercise is of the Good Hard or Go Home, No Pain No Gain, Second Place is First Loser mentality. You do it because it is “good for you” or to atone for that extra donut you grabbed during the last staff meeting. What if it was just fun? Just felt awesome? Just let you connect with friends, have a sense of accomplishment, burn off some stress, enjoy the feeling of being part of a team or part of a community, enjoy pushing your body and seeing what it can do? I’m of the opinion that it’s always better to motivate with joy than guilt or shame. Shame and guilt may get you in the door, but joy will sustain you and keep you going. And that is exactly what this ad does for me.
[break][/break]Perhaps why I like it can be best summed up by the ads tag line “This Girl Can” because it reminds me that this girl can do anything she sets her mind to and deserves to do it loudly, unrestrainedly, unashamedly, sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox and having a blast while doing it.