Women in Sport
It’s no secret that I quite like sports and fitness. I’ve been a runner for three years now, I have an interest in karate and I’m stoked to get back in the gym when I return to the UK. What I’m not so keen on is how women are represented and how the fitness world is pitched to us ladies.
I have spoken about my demons before on here and being alone in France has made it incredibly difficult not to let the shadows take over. Fitness is one of the ways I have been able to do this but at the same time, is what partly keeps the monsters snapping at my heels.
Body image is a massive concern in today’s society, with super skinny celebs being dubbed as disgusting and skeletal, whilst overweight people are ridiculed for being lazy and greedy. So where is the in between? Well, that would be the women in fitness, with their glowing skin, defined abs and dazzling smiles… And here in lies the problem.
I don’t know about you, but when I come from a work out, I am red, a sweaty and absolutely shattered. There is no dazzling smile but more of a forced grimace. There’s no glow, just a very wet towel. And the defined abs? Whatever! I’m wearing gym gear, about to hit the showers, I’ll show my abs off at the beach! We aren’t all the sexy gym bunny who rocked up to the gym looking like an A-list celebrity and left looking even better! Women in fitness are portrayed in what I feel, is quite a voyeuristic way, which is equally as damaging to “normal” women and their body confidence, as it is when we see the ideal body image in the media every day.
I love the way women in sport are strong and love their bodies for what it can truly do, more than what it looks like. But when we are faced with images like the one above is it any wonder women in fitness are rare?! Sport and fitness are pitched to women as a tool solely for losing weight and looking good. Which inevitably leads women into the gym, grinding away at something they hate, so they quit and end up disliking themselves even more! It’s unbelievable. One of my fitspirations is Muireann Carey-Campbell from Bangs and a Bun and the badass women’s sport site Spikes and Heels. Muireann focuses on how sports can make your body feel and as a result, the emotional benefits you reap. More women need to feel like this and realise that fitness is about enjoyment not looks.
Summer is approaching so the usual “Bikini Body” pitch is everywhere I look, even in France! The way this industry is promoted to women with their “get fit, look great” slogans just validates my demons; creating an irrational eat less, move more mentality. The message being sent is that it doesn’t matter whether you feel like shit as long as you look great. Perhaps if the focus on women in sports was more about how they feel, whether their bodies are powerful and strong as well as beautiful, then maybe more women would be into fitness and sport.
So in the words of Muireann, that I use as a bit of a sporting mantra when out on a run and fighting my own negativity:
BE PRETTY ON REST DAYS
And go out and do the sports you love, enjoy and that make you feel good.