When writing, it is common practice to imagine your dream reader. Having spent the best part of my career in marketing it would be all too easy to go off and do some strategizing, perhaps write a pen-portrait and potentially disappear up my own backside for a while. So I’ve decided to cut a few corners and think of the people I’d really like to read what I’ve written one day. Two little girls who sit wide-eyed and love listening to stories, whose imaginations are vast and experiences so far unhindered by doubts or negative thoughts towards themselves. So today I am writing with them in mind, as I want them to know how strong and amazing they are. And when those voices of self-doubt start to creep in, or they become of aware of societal norms and expectations, I want them to have the courage of their convictions, stand up for themselves, fight for what they believe in and love themselves for who they are.
I’m so distracted by the amazing new Sport England campaign #thisgirlcan that I want to focus on the physical side of things today. I’m sure if and when the girls come to read this themselves, this campaign will be old news and they can have a good laugh at the eyeliner and hairstyles, but today this is very real and raw:
I can nit-pick about the language and the lack of international relevance (which isn’t an issue for Sport England and their target consumer), but the underlying message is pretty powerful.
Apparently the #thisgirlcan campaign was justified because there are fewer women than men of every age who participate in every sport at every level in England. Market research showed that in addition to finding time to exercise, girls and women are lacking confidence to get out there and get sweaty, because of how they look. I’ve sooo been there. It’s hard not to feel self-conscious when your face is the colour of a tomato. The irony of improving your body and overall health is that it requires pain, sweat and overall physical exertion to get there. And who do our little girls and teenagers see in the media to help them with all of this?
In case your tea’s starting to go cold, I’m only going to highlight two from pop-culture. My two are still a bit young for Germaine Greer and Caitlin Moran, after all. (But a future write-up is on the way about amazing authors for young children, I promise).
How not to do it: Beyoncé tells us that “it’s the soul that needs the surgery” in the musically fabulous “Pretty Hurts”. I hope to God my children never watch this. And by the way, I haven’t missed the point, I just abhor the sensational presentation. (“Mummy, why is the thin lady eating cotton wool?”):
How to do it: Over to Meghan Trainor for more of a positive message and a massive handful of cheesy pop thrown into the mix:
By the way, the absolute star of this video is not Meghan Trainor. If I had to be friends with anyone from either video it would be that amazing man who can do the splits. Now you can have a go at Meghan for skinny-shaming and taking a massive dig at the very beautiful girl who dares to be on the slim side. But if you’re feeling a bit put-out at this, I invite you to trawl through the history of MTV and feast your eyes on 99% of the models in the videos, and you’ll soon feel OK again.
Finally I wish she didn’t refer to her plentiful bass for the boys’ sake. But with my little girls in mind, I would say pay it forward…we all love a compliment. Feel free to compliment me on mine any time. As long as you don’t think I’ve disappeared up into it.