New Image Library Features Inclusive Pictures of Women Exercising

When you see an article online about exercise and workouts for women, the feature image generally depicts a slim, often white, person of a younger age. Yet, people of all ages, sizes and ethnicities work out, so why don’t we see more representation?

This is the thinking behind Sport England’s campaign This Girl Can, a free 400-strong image library that includes people of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds.

The campaign was developed after research found that misrepresentative imagery could be harmful to women’s confidence. A study conducted by This Girl Can found that 63% of women say seeing slim, toned bodies on social media sites can have a negative impact on them.

It also found that the first 100 images returned by Googling ‘women exercising’ found that less than a third of the top images featured women from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

It also revealed that 85% of the images show women smaller than a size 10 (the average size of a UK woman is 16) and 14% were thought to be between a size 12-16 and just 5% were size 18 and above.

On top of this, just 2% of imagery showed a woman as being red faced, sweaty or visibly out of breath while 9% of the images depicted a woman finding the activity challenging.

Most images (65%) also showed women thought to be under 35 years old with just 15% considered to be over 50.

“Our aim is to inspire women to become more active and showcase the many fantastic ways they can do so. We know there are barriers women have to exercise, fears of judgment and feeling that they will fail. We are encouraging behavioural change, which can be difficult if women’s misconceptions are often reinforced on a daily basis by the imagery they view in media, advertising and online,” Kate Dale, Campaign Lead for This Girl Can says.

“Many brands have already made positive moves in this area, but it is still alarming to see what a simple search on Google revealed. We would like to see more diverse and representative imagery used throughout marketing and the media and have made our image library rights free for that very purpose.”

Research from Sport England also found that activity levels have suffered ‘significantly’ due to the pandemic, with women’s activity levels dropping to 58% between mid-March and mid-May 2020.

Scroll down to see some of our favourite images from this campaign and, for more information about This Girl Can, visit:

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