I should probably be grateful that I have always been the skinny one. I have never had to worry much about excess body fat or how to keep the weight off. I have always enjoyed getting outside, being active and getting sweaty too. I’d say I worry quite a lot about what people think about me, but strangely not when it comes to going for a run or working up a sweat. Then I just get on and do it. Maybe because I know what I’m doing and feel confident that what I’m doing is also good for me (most of the time!). And it’s pretty handy that I have that self confidence right now, as I certainly get a lot more comments and looks running with a double buggy than I did when I was running on my own!
Why is it, then, that Sport England’s latest campaign to get women more active has slightly saddened me? Not the campaign itself, but the reason for it. For those of you who haven’t seen the ad yet, This Girl Can is specifically targeting women who are currently too nervous or embarrassed to exercise and pretty much telling them to get out there and do it. Which is great. It’s just a shame that it has come to this. That women are now so concerned about their body image, that they are too embarrassed to put on some shorts or jogging bottoms, or get a bit red in the face in public. And I imagine they are still feeling pressure to lose weight to become a bit more like the size 0 models they see plastered everywhere. Which makes it even worse as the best way to lose weight is to exercise, not to eat less and stay cooped up indoors.
I remember when I first got pregnant, thinking about the different challenges of having a girl and a boy, and I was reminded then of the current trend for school girls not to want to do PE for the very reasons the This Girl Can campaign is challenging. It really does make me wonder what we and the media are doing to our children to make them think like this. And who is most to blame? Is it the media or is it the parents soaking up that media and feeding it down to our children? I am often grateful to have two boys who are less likely to face challenges such as these for many reasons, but the main one being that society simply accepts that they can be sweaty and dirty and that’s ok. Or is it just me? I wonder if I would treat a daughter any differently.
So please, all you ladies out there reading this, if you want to exercise then just do it! Some people might judge you, yes they will, but it doesn’t matter. Feel good about what you’re doing and know that you’re doing yourself good too. If you see someone judging, just laugh right back at them! And to all you parents, please lead by example. As our lifestyles become more and more sedentary, it is our children who this campaign really has the most important message for. They have the most to lose right now.