It was only last year the United Nations suggested sport will play a leading role in the ongoing quest to secure equal rights for women and girls. Research tells us in no uncertain terms, however, that women’s insecurities about body image is one of the single biggest contributing factors preventing women from taking part in sporting activity.

Several studies have told us this. A recent Sport England report revealed that 75% of women surveyed wanted to take part in sport, but were stymied by insecurities about being judged on their appearance.

Similarly, a BT survey carried out in 2014 revealed 80% of women stated that they felt pressure to conform to a certain look and body type.

Empowering More Women To Get Active

So it is abundantly clear – significantly fewer women take part in sport or exercise than men but a majority of women would like to do more. It is these findings that were the catalyst for the creation of the This Girl Can campaign – a superb initiative which seeks to empower women and support them in getting more active.

Sport England CEO Jennie Price, said:

The figures on participation are crystal clear. There is a significant gender gap, with two million more men than women exercising or playing sport regularly. I believe we can tackle this gap, because our research shows that 75% of women would like to do more.

Before we began this campaign, we looked very carefully at what women were saying about why they felt sport and exercise was not for them. Some of the issues, like time and cost, were familiar, but one of the strongest themes was a fear of judgement. Worries about being judged for being the wrong size, not fit enough and not skilled enough came up time and again.

Every single woman I have talked to about this campaign – and that is now hundreds – has identified with this, and it is that fear of not being ‘good enough’ in some way, and the fear that you are the only one who feels like that, that we want to address.

In This Girl Can we want to tell the real story of women who exercise and play sport. They come in all shapes and sizes and all levels of ability. They have a myriad of reasons for doing what they do. If you are wondering if you should join them – or carry on – 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.

Finding the right sports bra is essential

There’s no escaping it and it needn’t be the elephant in the room – a woman’s boobs can and do prove an obstacle to taking part in sport. Indeed, a Portsmouth University questionnaire revealed 46% of girls surveyed felt this to be the case. Women can feel self-conscious about their boobs during exercise, which is why it is essential to find the right sports bra.

Overcoming Conservative attitudes in women’s sport

In an increasingly progressive society, sport can often be remarkably conservative in its attitudes and in its thinking. Football still appears clueless as to how to handle homosexuality in the game, while other sports – especially athletics – have held very old-fashioned ideas about how athletes should look. Athletics coaches always espoused the idea that sprinters could not be tall – until Usain Bolt came along and blew that theory out of the water. Similarly, the brilliant Jessica Ennis-Hill, who was allegedly labelled ‘fat’ by a male official at British Athletics, was often told she was too short to be any good at the high jump – until she broke the British record.

So why should we give any truck to these antiquated attitudes?

There is no ‘normal’ shape, no ‘normal’ woman’s body. Look at some of the greats of women’s sport at the moment – the all-conquering Serena with her big boobs and strong backside, the diminutive but incredible Simone Biles (who was once body shamed by a coach) or Maria Sharapova who stands 6’1″ tall.

All shapes, all sizes – all greats.

But it’s not just about looking to the elites in sport to find acceptance. Once we learn to accept that women need not look a certain way, it will empower more women to leave behind those insecurities and take part in sport. Exercise and playing sport is fun and beneficial, and that is all that should concern us.

KUDOS IS PASSIONATE ABOUT SUPPORTING WOMEN’S SPORT

KUDOS passionately believes in the power of sport. We believe in encouraging women from all backgrounds and of all shapes and sizes to take part in sporting activity at any level, from grassroots to the top.

KUDOS SPORTS – A LEADING SUPPLIER OF CUSTOM SPORTS KIT

KUDOS is proud to supply kit to a range of sports clubs across the country – custom teamwear that is built for performance and worn with pride.

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