Sport England's 'This Girl Can' debuts an inclusive image library of women exercising

Move by the organization arrived in time for International Women's Day

Published On
Mar 09, 2021

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Sport England's "This Girl Can" campaign used International Women's Day as the launch platform for the debut of a new "inclusive" image library featuring women of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and ages exercising.

The move, designed to help the media move away from using images of slim, perfectly made up and non-sweaty women when illustrating a story about exercise, arrives following research that showed that 63% of women reported that "unrelatable" images have a negative impact on them.

Research by the "This Girl Can" team shows that the first 100 images returned by a Google search term "women exercising" found that less than one third of imagery featured women from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, groups who find it most difficult to be active. And 85% of the images only showed slim, toned women perceived to be a U.K. size 10 (U.S. 6) or smaller. Just 2% of imagery showed women sweaty, red-faced or visibly out of breath, and in only 9% of imagery did women appear to be finding their activity challenging.

The image library is available here and all photography is available to use rights free.

“We are encouraging behavioral change, which can be difficult if women’s misconceptions are often reinforced on a daily basis by the imagery they view in media, advertising and online," said Kate Dale, campaign lead for This Girl Can at Sport England, in a statement. “We welcome and support women of all sizes, ages and abilities; we never judge. Our objective is to create some balance within the imagery currently being access and available. Many brands have already made positive moves in this area, but it is still alarming to see what a simple search on Google revealed. We would like to see more diverse and representative imagery used throughout marketing and the media and have made our image library rights free for that very purpose.”

Sport England's "This Girl Can" campaign first made waves in 2015 with its celebrated ad featuring a diverse group of women sweating, jiggling and struggling as they engaged in sport and exercise. Since then, the organization has continued its efforts to promote athletics across diverse groups.