Good on you Sport England.
Your 'This Girl Can' national advertising campaign has made this girl very happy.
Developed by Sport England and partnership organisations to encourage women of all ages and backgrounds to be more active, it is one minute, thirty seconds of inspiration and realism that makes you want to fist pump / high-five / run up a hill / Zumba the hell out of your Tuesday night.
The campaign shows 'REAL' women doing REAL exercise in REAL situations. You know, the stuff that really happens - breaking into a sweat that leaves your hair stringy, pulling a fearless face that in your head looks determined and sexy but in execution is actually more Les Dawson gurn, flopping exhausted into a chair after a run and saying 'I'm knackered' instead of delicately sipping a kale smoothie as you yoga-breathe through your nose.
The clip features real women, looking wonderful with bits jiggling delightfully.
It's the first serious foray into advertising for Sport England, despite forking out a huge sum for sport infrastructure and has been created in recognition that funding brilliant amenities is futile if women won't participate because they are afraid that (a) they don't belong (b) they aren't fit enough or good enough and (c) don't have the right gear.
I can relate to this fear entirely, I get it. My gym is full of gorgeous lithe women, some in full-face slap. The other day I witnessed false eyelashes in the weights area, I'm not kidding. This is in no way intended to be critical; I'm mostly in awe as I sod about on the bike peeking over my Evening Standard at these flawless creatures and purposely avoid the lady in the mirror with panda eyes, crazy hair and an ill-fitting t-shirt (me).
Attending a spin class can be a terrifying ordeal, as I recently experienced, with a gaggle of pert bums up in the air, cries of 'GUYS, TAKE IT UP A NOTCH' and American-style whoops and claps. I hid at the back wondering if anyone else's arse hurt as much as mine and if anyone would notice if I took it up a notch and left. I laugh at myself in the gym and smile at other people, as the ad-women do. When you sing in your head to 'Evacuate the Dancefloor' as you work out on the bicep curl machine, only to realise you actually sang out loud and people are staring, it helps to have sense of humour.
As for the right attire, you only have to plod through a few magazines in January before you're hit with a glut of predictable editorials on WORKING OUT and specifically doing so while wearing THE RIGHT KIT. Apparently, we must all be wearing directional joggers, splashy sweats, and neon kaleidoscope print leggings down our local Fitness First. The models wearing said stuff are perfect, downward facing dogging lovelies with perfect abs and look passive rather than active. Again, this isn't intended to be a criticism. I adore fashion, I pore over the pages and absorb the palette of colours, the labels and the capsule collections that in my (lottery) dreams I like to think I would be wearing in a Soul-Cycle class in LA with Victoria Beckham. It's just I'd much rather see magazines having the balls to feature ordinary women in affordable stuff that still looks good (hi, StellaSport, I'm waiting for pay-day and will be with you soon) rather than some labels that charge £235 for a pair of leggings and the possible use of airbrushing that makes us all feel shit.
I disagree with the recent Guardian article that inferred that This Girl Can is all about sex and not sport, and that it plays into the norms of objectifying female flesh. I'm disappointed that the newspaper chose to criticise rather than celebrate the fact that finally we had a campaign that didn't shame women. Instead I support the crusade entirely and I'm Team Moran.
I felt motivated when I first viewed the advert on TV and the next day when I ran outside in my not-perfect gear, with my bum wobbling and my under-£200 t-shirt, I felt OK. Foxy is not a sensation I feel frequently. When I think of foxy, I think of Beyoncé and all her toned fierceness. I think of Lana del Rey with curves and bee-stung lips. I do not think of me in an old grey running t-shirt, first worn in 2009 when I panted and cried my way around the route of my first Great North Run. Sweaty yes, bleeding even, but foxy no.
But maybe, just maybe, with the help of empowering campaigns like this I might start to feel foxy soon. Maybe this girl can.
Get your exercise on.