Sport campaign targets women of all sizes to ‘get a jiggle on’

Missy Elliott rap song used in Sport England’s fitness drive to urge women to become more active

The campaign by Sport England urges women of all sizes and shapes to get active. Photograph: Still from This Girl Can video/Sport England

The campaign by Sport England urges women of all sizes and shapes to get active. Photograph: Still from This Girl Can video/Sport England

 

It’s hard to resist a jiggle to Missy Elliott’s Get Ur Freak On, which made it the perfect backing track for Sport England’s latest bid to get women up off their couches and enjoying a bit of exercise.

Women are less likely than men to become active, worried about how they look and how good they’ll be, research told them. We could have told them that for nothing.

While some of us may still be looking for our “thigh gap”, things are getting a bit better for women in Ireland. The Irish Sports Monitor reported in 2013 that almost 43 per cent of women are now taking part in sport once a week.

In England they are investing £10 million in a new campaign called This Girl Can, which they hope will see women moving to a different beat. (Naturally, it has its own hashtag.)

Sarah O’Connor is the chief executive of the Federation of Irish Sport. She loves the #thisgirlcan video.

“I liked the way it makes sport relevant to every woman. You can be any shape, any size. We need to get that message across to every woman - that there is a sporting activity for you,” she said.

Video: This Girl Can

“We want to tell the real story of women who exercise. Before we began this campaign, we looked very carefully at what women were saying… one of the strongest themes was a fear of judgment. Worries about being judged for being the wrong size, not fit enough and not skilled enough came up time and again,” said Sport England chief executive Jennie Price.

“This campaign says it really doesn’t matter if you are a bit rubbish or completely brilliant. The main thing is that you are a woman and you are doing something, and that deserves to be celebrated.”

O’Connor thinks it is important to get the message across that sport and exercise is fun.

“You get a lot out of the people you meet. This video shows sport and exercise is fun. Feeling a part of something. Getting out and meeting a group of friends is so important,” she said.

O’Connor liked the video released by Ireland’s Sports Council at the end of 2014 too.

“The video made by the Irish Sports Council is great, but it uses a different approach,” she said. As a sportswoman herself, she could relate to it and took great pride in seeing Katie Taylor and the Ireland women’s rugby team given some appreciation.

However, she is aware that all women need to be encouraged to take exercise, regardless of age, size, and aptitude.

“Sometimes I think women think sport is not for them. It is.”

Price gets to blow the final whistle on the matter.

“The main thing is that you are a woman and you are doing something, and that deserves to be celebrated,” she said.

Have a look. You might feel like diving in. As the video tells us: “I jiggle, therefore I am.”