THE BLOG
06/03/2015 13:10 GMT | Updated 24/08/2015 17:59 BST

Why This Girl Was Willing to Be Filmed in My Swimming Kit

Two days before my daughter's first birthday, my to-do list read like this. 1) Cake. 2) Presents. 3) Dig out sagging pre-pregnancy swimming costume and go for a dip in the local pool, the whole thing filmed in close-up with a strategically positioned bright light highlighting every normally-hidden flaw.

I can't say I enjoyed it. In fact, it was excruciating. But I wanted to make a point. And luckily when I was asked to get involved in BBC Get Inspired's video tribute to Sport England's 'This Girl Can' campaign, I got my chance to make it.

I've had enough of seeing absolute perfection in the media. Not just the way we're supposed to look, but our homes, our kids, our entire lifestyle. Who decreed we're supposed to be smoothed, tightened, flawless? If we don't measure up, instead of feeling normal, we feel guilty. We spend time and energy chasing a photoshopped, stylised, airbrushed extreme.

I realise this is a well-worn argument. What's different here, for me at least, is that I had the chance to stop complaining for a moment and make a small contribution to change. I was surprised by how little I had to think about it, the determination set in early. How can I expect anything to improve if I put my fear of you judging the way I look above taking a stand?

On online gossip sites, all the photos of celebrity cellulite snatched with a long lens on a beach feel furtive, designed to expose, embarrass and shame. When we revelled and rejoiced in the unairbrushed images of Beyonce and Cindy Crawford that leaked on the net recently, we were made to feel like they were a dirty little secret that only saw the light of day by accident.

Pictures like that make us all feel a little more beautiful, more normal, more acceptable. So why don't magazines and advertisers cotton on to that?

Back to my daughter Jessica, now just turned one. Every day I look at her and marvel at how beautiful she is. She's learning to walk, her pillowy little thighs powering her around the furniture, chubby little bracelets of fat circling her wrists as she clutches on to the sofa cushions. I'd hate her to grow up and think beauty equalled perfection, or a certain body type. I'd hate her to miss out on the joy and passion of sport because she wasn't confident about how she looked. If achieving that involves me throwing off my own inhibitions to set an example to her, then so be it.

You might well ask, if I'm so uncomfortable with my body, why volunteer to take the most exposing role in this video, the one which involves the fewest clothes? Well, I was determined to do something I could do well. I was a teenage club swimmer, training every day, competing at weekends. Admittedly that was twenty years ago and before giving birth to two children in the past 18 months, but I still felt a hot glint of pride when I watched the tape back and executed a pretty decent dive. That's my point, I wasn't going to let the thought of you judging my wobbly bits put me off showing you what I can do.

The first time I watched This Girl Can, I was bloody delighted that someone had finally admitted beauty and sweat aren't mutually exclusive concepts. With more than seven million views on YouTube, I'm clearly not alone in thinking that. I hope that when you watch This Girl Can Too, you feel inspired by our flaws. There's no airbrushing, no forgiving angles, no mercy. If you look at me and feel normal, more comfortable in your own skin, then you'll have made every second of my own exposure worthwhile.

I'm one of a number of BBC presenters to appear in BBC Get Inspired's tribute to Sport England's 'This Girl Can' campaign, designed to help women overcome the fear of judgement when exercising - the biggest barrier to women taking part in physical activity. 'This Girl Can Too' will make its debut on BBC Breakfast on Sunday 8th March and will be available to view online at bbc.co.uk/getinspired. To join in the conversation on Twitter, follow @bbcgetinspired @thisgirlcanuk or the hashtag #thisgirlcantoo or visit BBC Get Inspired's Facebook page.