The latest TV advert marks the five-year anniversary of the campaign, designed to empower more women to enjoy exercise. It features real people, instead of actors or athletes, who’ve overcome challenges and started to get active.
Nearly two-fifths of women in England aren’t active, according to the latest research by the campaign. The survey of almost 2,000 women found that the majority believe seeing “slim-toned bodies” on social media has a negative impact on their own body image, while others find fitness influencers “unrelatable”.
Hannah Johnson, 29, from Redbridge, Essex, appears in the advert exercising while on her period. Hannah suffers from debilitating period cramps, plus nauseousness and migraines. But she says transitioning from fearing the pain to using physical activity to manage it has been an “incredibly empowering process”.
She’s seen clutching a hot water bottle before throwing it to one side and pulling on her yoga leggings – with a tampon string poking out her underwear.
Patrice Bromley-Robertson, 24, from Haringey, London, appears in the ad using exercise to combat the symptoms she experiences due to polycystic ovaries, including irregular periods, cramps and weight gain.
Since taking up HIIT, circuits and weight training, Patrice says her physical and mental health has improved, adding: “Exercise is my medication and motivation for life.”
She enjoys working out alongside her mum, Yvonne, 54, who has been motivated to exercise to help manage her symptoms of menopause.
Kirsti Hau, 37, from Chorleywood, Rickmansworth, is mum to three children aged six, four and 10 months. In the ad, she’s seen breastfeeding before going out to play netball.
Her advice to other mums worried about balancing exercise with parenthood is: “It’s all about taking small steps”.
“There are loads of ways to get active,” she says. “You can start off by doing a few bits at home (on apps or watching YouTube) – that way you can build up the confidence. Once you’re ready, you can find something in the community with like-minded women.”
The latest research from This Girl Can supports the need for women from all backgrounds to be shown in fitness marketing – on TV and social media.
It found nearly a quarter of those who follow fitness influencers say they make them feel bad about themselves, and less than a fifth find these influencers relatable.
But social media doesn’t have to be negative. While 89% of women said they don’t post about the exercise they do on social media, the campaign is encouraging women to share what it really looks like to get active.
Lisa O’Keefe, director of insight at Sport England, said: “This Girl Can is about helping women feel confident, so they can overcome the fears about being judged that our research showed was stopping many from getting active.
“Since we launched five years ago, we’re seeing more relatable images in advertising and social media, but there’s a long way to go until women’s lives are being shown in a realistic way.”