Last updated: 26 Mar, 2018

Opinion piece by Jerril Rechter, VicHealth CEO

First published in Herald Sun, 25 March 2018

In today’s era of #MeToo and women speaking up and taking a stand, you’d think we’d feel free to get physically active whenever we choose. Women are now playing Aussie rules and we’re making major in-roads into traditionally male-dominated sports, but it seems something is stopping us from getting active.

According to the latest stats from VicHealth, over half of Victorian women worry about being judged when exercising. They worry more than men about keeping up, being unfit and find it harder to go back to exercise when they haven’t done it for a while – particularly after having kids. For more than 40 percent of us, this feeling of embarrassment or intimidation is so strong it actually stops us from taking part in sport or exercise.

Jerril Rechter

That’s certainly what VicHealth found when we put the call out last year for Victorian women to tell us about their experiences of getting active.

Over and over again we heard stories of women who were embarrassed, intimidated, shamed. Women who were told they should be at home with their kids, they should lose weight, they shouldn’t wear lycra. Women who were told that cricket, AFL, boxing, surfing are a man’s domain.

 That’s where our This Girl Can – Victoria campaign steps in. Following on the heels of the world-famous campaign by Sport England which inspired 3.9 million British women to ditch the couch and get active – VicHealth is launching our very own Victorian This Girl Can.  The powerful TV campaign stars 12 local women – no air-brushed Instagram models – overcoming their fears and giving it a go, curves, jiggles, wrinkles and all. The women, from across Victoria, get their sweat on in a range of activities from boxing, cycling and roller-derby to netball and Aussie rules.

In the TV ad we see netballer Sally shooting goals in a game despite being told she’s “too old to play”, Tina on the bike even after someone’s heckled her “fat chicks shouldn’t wear lycra” and Jaime’s still playing soccer despite her “Mum belly”. The women in our TV ad are everyday women who’ve found the confidence to get out there and get active.  

Women who try, and fail, and laugh and love it anyway. Women who say “I can do this.”

This Girl Can –Victoria is about smashing those old-fashioned stereotypes and the fear stopping women from getting out there and giving it a go.

This Girl CanVictoria isn’t about making women feel bad about not doing enough exercise. It’s about celebrating what they can do – even if it’s just a walk around the block or a few laps of the pool.

One thing’s for sure, in Victoria we know This Girl most definitely Can.

This Girl Can – Victoria hits TV screens tonight, get involved by heading to thisgirlcan.com.au and join the community on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and follow the #ThisGirlCanVIC.