This 37yo Girl Just Can’t Even

OK, so I’ve seen a video shared all over my social media that should be right up in my brand area. It’s about encouraging women to exercise and it’s called This Girl Can.

It implies Zumba is the most fun you can have! It’s beautifully shot with a bangin’ Missy Elliot soundtrack! It got a prized TV slot nuzzled in the loving crevices of Coronation Street while simultaneously being 30 seconds of footage that depicts not even one man! It occasionally features a shot of undulating flesh and so it’s accepting of fat bodies!

Put all that on paper and you’ve got my dream advert, so why does my stomach acid reach boiling point every time I see it?

P’raps it’s because I picture the Sport England brainstorming meeting in which they look at the lower numbers of women taking part in regular exercise and figure out what they’re going to do about it.

“Our reports show that guys are hitting the squash courts and golf courses every week, but the girls just don’t seem to like to exercise, Bob.”

“I guess that’s because it makes their lady-faces all red, Jim.”

“Hmm. We should let them know we still find that sexy.”

“Let’s pay for an ad that breaks this important news while they watch their soap operas. They love their soap operas.”

[Bob and Jim high-five each other; the sexual tension is palpable.]

Alright, so let’s leave aside the fact that these participants can reach the age of 33 and still be acceptably referred to as girls (presumably because human womanhood does not commence until she has devoured the flesh of at least 50 mortal enemies and this _can_ take a while).

1. It’ll take more than this to stop everybody measuring women’s worth in terms of their sexiness.

‘DAMN RIGHT I LOOK HOT’, says the video caption, the joke being that these women are revelling in the heat of their workout. Can we just not? At all?

If women are put off exercise for fearing looking red and sweaty; let’s look at the representation of women in media. Men on screen get to look dishevelled and still powerful. Any woman that is not young, conventional-attractiveness-standard-model-pretty, and with no visible bodily functions (like sweat) is ridiculed in popular culture. If our media wasn’t run overwhelmingly by rich white dudes, this would probably change.

It’s as though this was sorta-kinda the sentiment behind the video, but then they undermined it with that caption and the fact that the women in the videos are all squarely in the bell-curve of traditionally nice-looking.

2. Trust me, women already know about cardio.

From the age of about 7, yer ‘girls’ are the planet’s experts on diet and exercise, framed within the context of what will make their bodies more closely comply with the prevailing aesthetic. This video’s preaching to the choir.

3. The problem is really about lack of leisure time.

Call me cynical, but I imagine that the reason that women exercise less than men might have something to do with the fact that once we’ve gotten out of our paid jobs and then taken care of all the unpaid work that is required to survive and also handily props up the entire system, it can be kind of difficult to also find the time to hit the netball court. It feels patronising to suggest otherwise.

But OK, Sport England may be lottery funded but they probably don’t have the budget to either smash capitalism or radically redistribute wealth within it. FINE.

And they do link to some excellent resources if you were just worried about your hair and now feel inspiro-empowered to go find some exercise.

Also I lead Zumba Fitness classes, maybe I haven’t mentioned that.

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