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This Girl Can images showing diversity of women being active added to our image library

The rights-free photographs show women of different sizes and ages being active and playing sport and are free to download.

8th March 2021

This Girl Can has marked International Women’s Day by adding a new a set of images on our image library showing how women and girls really look while playing sport and getting physically active.

The campaign, which is run by us and funded by the National Lottery, has launched the resource to help address the misrepresentation of images used in marketing and the media.

Women working out at the gym

Our library is free to use and the rights-free images show women of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and ages and comes on the back of new research that shows women find often unrelatable images of slim, toned bodies of women exercising – especially on social media.

Kate Dale, our campaign lead for This Girl Can, said the objective was to improve the diversity of images available. 

“Our aim is to inspire women to become more active and showcase the many fantastic ways they can do so,” she said. 

“We know there are barriers women have to exercise, fears of judgement 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.” 

The need for the new images is clear, with 63% of women telling a This Girl Can survey that seeing slim, toned bodies on social media sites has a negative impact on them.

Our aim is to inspire women to become more active and showcase the many fantastic ways they can do so

Kate Dale

Campaign lead, This Girl Can

Analysis by the This Girl Can team of the first 100 images returned by the Google search term ‘women exercising’ found the selection to be very unrepresentative.

They found:

  • 85% of the images only showed slim, toned, women perceived to be a size 10 or smaller
  • Only 14% of women were thought to be size 12-16, with only 5% of images showing women size 18 or above
  • Just 2% of imagery showed women as being sweaty, red-faced or visibly out of breath, and in only 9% of imagery did women appear to be finding their activity challenging
  • 65% of imagery returned by this search term also appeared to show women aged under 35, with only 20% perceived to be between 35-50 and 15% considered to be 50+
  • Less than one third of imagery featured women from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

“Many brands have already made positive moves in this area, but it is still alarming to see what a simple search on Google revealed,” added Kate.

“We’d 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.”

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