In­spir­ing girls to be more ac­tive

Te Awamutu Courier - - News -

Sport Waikato has pro­duced a new This is ME® Video that show­cases real women and girls get­ting ac­tive.

The video is be­ing re­leased to­day in an ef­fort to bet­ter rep­re­sent New Zealand women and girls get­ting ac­tive and to de­crease the anx­i­ety fe­males ex­pe­ri­ence when it comes to be­ing judged while par­tic­i­pat­ing.

For many New Zealand women, con­cerns around abil­ity and body image pre­vent them from get­ting ac­tive, so there ex­ists a di­vide be­tween what women and girls would like to be do­ing, and their ac­tual be­hav­iour. And it’s no sur­prise that New Zealand women and girls are feel­ing self-con­scious about get­ting ac­tive, par­tic­u­larly given the dom­i­nance of im­agery of fe­male fit­ness mod­els and elite ath­letes with toned physiques in the me­dia.

“While a lack of time, fi­nan­cial re­sources, in­jury and ill­ness as well as a lack of knowl­edge about how to con­nect are among some of the prac­ti­cal chal­lenges fe­males face with re­spect to be­ing ac­tive, one of the most sig­nif­i­cant rea­sons women and girls are not as ac­tive as they would like to be or as they could be, is a fear of be­ing judged,” says Sport Waikato CEO Matthew Cooper.

Na­tional re­search sug­gests that New Zealand women and girls par­tic­i­pate in sport and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity less than their male coun­ter­parts, and that de­spite want­ing to par­tic­i­pate more, there are a num­ber of bar­ri­ers and chal­lenges that seem to be hold­ing them back.

The first of its kind in New Zealand, the This is ME® video aims to gen­er­ate a pos­i­tive con­ver­sa­tion about and among Kiwi women and girls par­tic­i­pat­ing in phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity at all lev­els, and is an ad­di­tion to the cur­rent em­pha­sis on in­creas­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for women and girls to feel both con­nected to and val­ued in sport, phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and re­cre­ation.

The video’s back­ing track, Gin Wig­more’s re­cent re­lease Girl Gang, not only pro­vides a catchy beat that au­di­ences will re­mem­ber, but it speaks to these ideas on many lev­els.

“As well as en­cour­ag­ing fe­males to band to­gether to chal­lenge the sta­tus quo, the song’s col­lo­quial and tongue in cheek use of the term ‘girl’ res­onates with a New Zealand au­di­ence, while also point­ing to the ways this term has been used to marginalise fe­males as weak, in­fe­rior and less ca­pa­ble,” says Sport Waikato gen­eral man­ager Michelle Hol­lands.

Rather than show­cas­ing high-pro­file New Zealand sportswomen, gym junkies or marathon run­ners, the This is ME® video in­stead high­lights ev­ery­day women and girls par­tic­i­pat­ing in ac­tiv­i­ties like Waka Ama, hip hop danc­ing, so­cial net­ball, jog­ging, home-based work­outs and back­yard games.

It high­lights what women and girls re­ally look like when they get mov­ing and takes the em­pha­sis off the usual dis­courses of com­pe­ti­tion, ex­er­cise and weight loss. In­stead, these sen­ti­ments are re­placed with calls for women and girls to be them­selves, have fun and get mov­ing to­gether with con­fi­dence.

“The video is far re­moved from the im­agery of fe­males par­tic­i­pat­ing in sport or get­ting ac­tive that we usu­ally see in the me­dia. There are no elite ath­letes, no women or girls with what you might con­sider vis­i­bly peak ath­letic physiques, and cer­tainly no abs of steel. In­stead, the video cel­e­brates real women and girls do­ing real phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, and im­por­tantly the var­ied and unique ways they choose to en­gage,” says Hol­lands.

The This is ME video will be of­fi­cially launched on Face­book www.face­book.com/ Thi­sisMENZ/ and on the web­site www.thi­sisme.org.nz from 3.30pm to­day.

MATTHEW COOPER

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