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This Girl Can - Me Again

This Girl Can is back with a brand-new TV advert to inspire more women and girls to take part in sport and physical activity. 

The advert, which will premiere nationally on Friday 17 Jan 2020, shows the raw, unfiltered reality of women exercising in whatever way that works for them.

Lisa O’Keefe, Director of Insight at Sport England, hopes the advert will convince women they don’t need to be in shape or super confident in their bodies to take part. 

“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,” she said. “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. 

“We've designed the new adverts to show things we're still not seeing - women using exercise to manage period symptoms or juggling motherhood - all while celebrating women of all shapes, sizes, abilities and backgrounds.”          

Launched in 2015, This Girl Can has been working to address the significant gender gap found in sports and exercise, to build women’s confidence around being active, and help them meet the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines. 

Since it was launched, the campaign has already inspired more than 3.5 million women to act but there’s still a lot to do, with 40% of women aged 16 and over not active enough to get the full health benefits of sport and physical activity, compared to 35% of men. 

The campaign was based on the insight that 75% of women say they want to do more sporting activities or exercise, but one of the unifying barriers found to be holding them back is a fear of judgement.

The new advert has been created on the back of new research by Sport England that reveals 63% of women who see slim, toned bodies on social media sites say this has a negative impact on them. 

Nearly a quarter (24%) who follow fitness influencers, say they make them feel bad about themselves, while less than a fifth (18%) of these women find fitness influencers relatable.  

The campaign is calling for influencers, media and brands to feature more realistic and diverse imagery of women to promote sport and physical activity. 

Having been born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, Redbridge swimmer Glynis Evans has deformities in her legs and arms, which she is now ready to show to the world. She said: “It’s important for women to get up and know there is nothing they can’t do. What better way to show that than a girl with a physical disability who is out there and is swimming – she doesn’t care what anybody else is saying, she doesn’t care if anyone else is looking at her, she’s doing it. If this was 10 years ago, I would be a completely different person. I had such low self esteem. I would never have shown my limbs on social media. Now, I just think ‘you know what, I don’t care’. This is me, I’m beautiful. I’ve got a message for the whole world to see and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

Glynis learnt to swim at the age of nine, but drifted away from the pool after a personal tragedy. In 2018, she rejoined the Redbridge Dippers – a group for accessible swimming, featuring people with a range of disabilities. As she turned 30 in 2019, Glynis had truly rediscovered her passion for swimming, enjoying the physical and social benefits of her bi-weekly sessions.

She said: “With my stumps, I can get hard skin at the bottom, so the water softens it and that helps. It just makes me feel really good. Swimming is just really quite therapeutic. It’s always nice to be around people that know your experience and know what you’re going through. We all have disabilities, so we have something in common. “We all give each other the space needed to swim. If someone can see I’m swimming a length, they’ll make room for me.”

To Glynis, and the other members of Redbridge Dippers, their swimming sessions are just part of a routine. But Glynis’ prominence in the This Girl Can campaign is helping to change the perception of disability. She struggles to recall seeing women with disabilities on the television when she was growing up and admits the bullying she suffered as a result of her disability made school an unhappy place.

Now, Glynis hopes to be the role model she never had.

“This means the absolute world, to be the only person in the campaign with a disability. If there was someone like me when I was growing up, my confidence would be soaring. I want to inspire a lot of people. I want to inspire children, especially. If there is someone watching the TV and thinking ‘this girl has the same disability as me and there is nothing stopping her’, that is what I want to keep doing. I’m going to keep pushing and be the best person I can be.”

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