‘This Girl Can’ campaign ad empowers all women to be phenomenal

Sport England recently launched an empowering ad for its “This Girl Can” campaign. Airing on February 24, the “Phenomenal Women” ad is synced with a voiceover of “Phenomenal Woman,” the poem by writer and activist Maya Angelou.

The ad features women (of all shapes and sizes) doing everything from giving birth to running, swimming, kickboxing, dancing and weightlifting. They are tough, they are fierce, they are joyful, but most of all, they are phenomenally entrenched in their well-being. The women in these ads are not posed for a male gaze; they are engaged in physical activities because they want to be.

This is the second installment of Sport England’s successful female health and empowerment campaign. The first “This Girl Can” ad, which was released in 2015, is estimated to have encouraged 2.8 million women to engage in a more active lifestyle. Like the 2017 ad, the 2015 ad focused on body positivity. It featured taglines including, “I jiggle therefore I am,” layered over women exercising in sync with Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On.”  

Playing alongside a mashup of Angelou’s words, the new ad holds true to celebrating the all-encompassing and mighty woman of the poem. The first stanza reads:

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

In a BBC interview, Jennie Price, chief executive of Sport England, shared why the group is motivated to close the gender gap when it comes to sports and exercise. “Most women still feel judged when they play sport or exercise,” Price said. “We feel guilty for stopping and starting, for hesitating, for not looking perfect. The women and girls in this campaign remind us that’s normal and create some strong images that we hope millions of women will relate to.”

The ad features a wide demographic of women, including: Debbie, a 51-year-old runner with a prosthetic blade leg; Fakhira, a 21-year-old Muslim kickboxer; and Stephanie, a new mom who danced during and after her pregnancy. The site’s Meet the Girls page profiles many of the women in the ad. “This Girl Can” also invites women to share their stories on its website. Since the ad’s launch, women have been using  #ThisGirlCan to share their triumphs with fellow phenomenal women worldwide.

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