Real women exercise

A copyright-free image library featuring women of different sizes, ages and backgrounds encouraging more women to keep active

Could endless fitness adverts featuring young women with well-toned bodies be putting others off getting more active? The organisation responsible for getting Britons more active believes the answer is a definite yes, and it’s taking action.

Sport England recently surveyed women about their attitudes to getting fit, the message was clear. Nearly two in three confirmed that social media images that only ever show young, toned bodies put them off getting involved in sports or joining a gym.

The organisation has decided the answer is getting more images of people of different sizes used in the media. To help the process, it has launched a copyright-free image library featuring shots of women of all body shapes, ages and background working out and playing sport. The library backs up its latest tv advert for its “This Girl Can” campaign which shows women of all shapes and sizes keeping active during lockdown.

Encouraging diversity with free images

This shift to more realistic pictures celebrating women of all ages, backgrounds and body sizes will remind many of the work Dove has done with its “Real Beauty” campaign. It also fits in with the advertising industry’s embracing of diversity through initiatives, such as the Unstereotype Alliance. It aims to end harmful gender stereotypes in advertising, such as women typically being portrayed undertaking household chores.

Similarly, Sport England is hoping to increase diversity by changing the public’s perception of who can participate in fitness activities and sports. By making its inclusive image library free to use, Sport England hopes using social media influencers, bloggers, journalists and brand marketers will be encouraged to look beyond the stereotypical shots of well-toned, young women.

The misperception such images cause can undo the hard work put in by Sport England in boosting inclusivity in fitness, according to Kate Dale, the campaign lead for the “This Girl Can”.
“We know there are barriers women have to exercise, fears of judgement and feeling that they will fail,” she said. “We are encouraging behavioural 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.”

Featured image: Sport England