When is a woman not a woman? #NewcastleCan #ThisGirlCan

I know that as well as eating better I need to exercise more. I am not comfortable exercising in public. When I have attended exercise classes before it always seemed like I was the only one who couldn’t keep up so I never went for long. I exercise in my own home, with the curtains closed, or go for long walks, where I may pass people but don’t have to engage with them.

Then there’s the what to wear dilemma. I find it hard enough to find regular clothes to fit me, exercise wear is even more difficult and I’m acutely aware that I don’t have a body shape that suits leggings. I don’t even own a pair of trainers and have been paralysed by choice every time I’ve considered getting some.

When I signed up for Newcastle Can I looked at the activities on offer in the city. I noticed some were called “This Girl Can” whereas some were “Women Only”. And I only clicked through to find out about the “Women Only” ones. 

I’d seen the first “This Girl Can” video back in 2015 and been impressed, but all the women looked younger than me and when it got to the tagline I thought “what a shame its just for girls.” And when I saw activities advertised as “This Girl Can” my thought process went

This girl can, can she? I’m really, sincerely pleased for her. But this women can’t, yet, and the last thing I want to be is the only woman who can’t among a load of girls who can.

It turns out I had completely misjudged the whole campaign, as I realised when their new video came out this week.

Repeated and powerful mention of the word woman. Images of women of all ages. 

I wonder if they consciously did this because women like me were misunderstanding the original campaign?

In my defence I haven’t though of myself as a girl for years, and would be offended if anyone called me it. I’m a woman and have been ever since I passed puberty. It would never in a million years have occurred to me that something that used the word “girl” meant me. 

“But if you went to their website or looked at their events you’d see its for all women” said an incredulous younger friend when she found out how I’d misunderstood it. Maybe I would. But the very name of the campaign had stopped me clicking through to find out more. I wondered how many other people thought similarly to me. 

I did a very unscientific poll of various women I know. Interestingly it split almost exactly into age groups. Late teens and 20s knew about the campaign and knew it was for all women. 30s and 40s had mostly heard about the campaign but thought it was for younger women. 50s and over generally weren’t aware of it. Its a small sample group, but it does imply that a lot of women are missing out.

Of course as a result of these discussions now 100% of the women I spoke to are aware of the campaign and that it targets all ages. And now that I know its not all fit young women who’ll be better than me at everything I’m checking out their events and have signed up for my first one next week. Wish me luck!


2 thoughts on “When is a woman not a woman? #NewcastleCan #ThisGirlCan

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