“Sweatin’ Like A Pig, Feelin’ Like A Fox”
Written by Ally Oliver-Perham
Have you seen the recent #ThisGirlCan campaign? It’s a new ad promoting women’s participation in recreational sport, showcasing female non-professional athletes taking part in everyday sporting activities, like jogging, swimming or dancing – which is great.
“This Girl Can celebrates the active women everywhere who are doing their thing no matter how they do it, how they look or even how sweaty they get.” – This Girl Can
It features brilliant opening, showing all kinds of women really pushing themselves, working up a sweat, all set to a choice soundtrack of Missy Elliot’s ‘Get Ur Freak On’. Nice work.
The brilliance, sadly, ends there. Less than a minute in, words of positive affirmation appear on screen, which are obviously meant to embody ‘girl power’ but instead reduce these strong, powerful women to sex objects. This advert had the best of intentions (and in all honesty, it is 95% awesome) but it so closely links women’s sport with her sexuality, it’s as if nothing else matters.
Statements like: “sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox” or “damn right, I’m hot” do nothing to assert women’s own physical power or strength. Instead, it’s all about how women and girls appear to others while playing sport.
While this advert promotes the importance of sport and health, it still emphasises sexiness and desirability. These are all valid and important things, but when will a woman playing sport ever just be about feeling strong? Feeling alive?
This Girl Can almost takes us there but just falls short. And I can’t help but wonder, how would this ad look if it was about men? Would it be show men being sexy, sporty things? Sweaty, yet cheeky? Probably not. It would be about muscles and strength, and most likely wouldn’t explore how outsiders view men playing sport – it would focus on men as individuals, making a choice to better their health. Which is exactly how I would’ve preferred #ThisGirlCan to play out.
Attractiveness, and sex appeal are all good and fine things, which everyone should feel free to enjoy, if that’s what you’re into. But surely it’s time for women’s sport to be elevated above physical appearance, so women and girls can truly own it? Now that would be a game changer.
Tell us what you thought of the #ThisGirlCan clip! Drop us a line firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ally is a Melbourne-based designer, educator and one of the co-creators of Rosie. She is addicted to This American Life podcasts, wasabi peas and red lipstick. Her dog Scout is widely acknowledged as her spirit animal.
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