Period pains. Tampons. Pads. Being laughed at for being in the gym. Not having the ‘right’ body type.
New research from Sport England says more than half of women stop exercising, at least occasionally, because of worrying about what others think.
The grassroots sports body’s This Girl Can campaign is designed to show the reality of women being active – tampons and all.
“Your period is a big deal in terms of performing – even the embarrassment of… sometimes England wear white and you’d be worried about what happens if I leak,” former England netball captain Ama Agbeze told 5 Live Breakfast.
“Is the strength of this tampon going to be sufficient? If you wear pads, is it going to be comfortable?
“The more we talk about it, the more out there it will be, and people need to have that support and information as well.”
Sport England says 3.5 million women have become involved in sport or physical activity as a result of the campaign, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary.
Newly published research from the governing body shows 63% of women feel the body images they see on social media have a negative effect of them.
It also found that 40% of women over the age of 16 are still not active enough to get the full benefits of sport and physical activity.
In the new advert, one woman is shown using yoga to ease heavy menstrual cramps, while a mother and daughter use exercise to combat their symptoms of menopause and polycystic ovary syndrome.
“Everybody feels bad some days,” said Agbeze. “Everybody suffers from pain. It’s making sure people know that it’s normal.
“It’s just letting men and everyone else in society know women do go through these things and they need support to get out and do stuff.
“I think it’s just the reality of life, which has been shied away from for so long.”
Nearly a quarter of the women surveyed said the fitness influencers they followed made them feel bad about themselves.
“I don’t always feel comfortable in the gym and very much relate to the body-confidence issues that many women face,” Agbeze added.
“I want to encourage all women to exercise and embrace your body shape, whether skinny, large, tall or round.”
What has the reaction been?
Sian Caulfield: “I’m on an equalities course this week. A man yesterday told the room that women ‘are unable to lift more than 15kg’. He was deadly serious. In response, I showed him a video of me push & pressing 45kg, followed by a video of me deadlifting 110kg.”
Claire Parnell: “Being active for me is about improving my mental health as much as my physical fitness. Breaking the taboos around women and sport. Periods. Sweat. The juggle.”
Sara Danby: “Such a great representation of diverse, real women juggling life and exercise. Feel empowered after my swim this morning.”
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