Friday Inspiration – Fitness and Feminism

It’s been a while since I did one of these posts but there have been so many blogs recently that I wanted to share so here we go…. Some inspiration this week but mainly just lots of interesting opinions. Feminism and fitness has been a popular topic recently with the #likeagirl ad at the Superbowl and #thisgirlcan campaign in the UK. This ALWAYS leads to backlash as there are some men who will always find something to criticise about “feminism”. Let’s get that straight immediately – women are half the world. We are not one homogenous group. We have hugely varying opinions, desires, needs, wants. Feminism has to try and encompass all of this and therefore it is possible to have two feminists that disagree on practically everything EXCEPT the one most important thing – women should be equal.

So with that in mind, here are some great blogs/posts I think you should read and enjoy ūüôā

  • I posted raving about the This Girl Can campaign a few weeks ago. Jess at One Step Closer had a slightly different take on it. I am still not sure I agree with her (see our conversation in the comments) but it certainly got me thinking about the campaign in more depth. I think part of what This Girl Can is doing is making young girls see that sport isn’t “not feminine” and they don’t have to become “more masculine” in order to do it. Having said that, as Jess says in her post, it would be nice for the message to be “it doesn’t matter whether sport is feminine or not”. I still love the campaign ūüôā


  • During the SuperBowl, the Always #LikeAGirl ad was shown. I’ve seen this ad a few times before and I love it. It kind of chokes me up actually. “You’re such a girl” should in no way be an insult and it is pretty ridiculous that it is when you think about all the amazing women / girls out there in whatever sphere. I really liked this post by Nevie at Writing Reading Running on her reaction to the ad. It’s definitely inspiring.
  • These Boys Can Too¬†by Becca at Om Run Nom – a new initiative to get men doing yoga but is it based on some sexist stereotypes? Stereotypes continue in the comments – something that immediately makes my hackles raise are comments along the lines of “all feminists” for the reasons written above! Here’s the website¬†and I’ve got to admit I quite fancy the founder. The website makes it all look lovely, some incredibly attractive men doing great yoga. I’m all in favour of getting more people to do yoga although my personal view is that it’s sad that the emphasis is on the “all male” – for the record, I’m also not a fan of “all female” exercise groups either. Every yoga class I’ve been to has a pretty even split between male and female, and it’s one of those things like triathlon, like running, like swimming, that men and women can do together and I’d much rather live in a world without artificial gender splits. But anyway…..



  • I love Caitlin’s Fit and Feminist blog for posts like this on why being a feminist is the opposite of being a man-hater (and many other wonderful posts) but the one for today is “forget internet memes: my fitspo comes from real life”.¬†¬†Firstly for the inspiration in the blog itself, and secondly for the link through to this excellent article¬†on the effect of “No Excuses” captions to Instagram pics of mums with ripped abs and cute children.


Our bodies are our own business, and truly empowering messages revolve around what we can learn to do with them rather than how we can shift and starve and shape them to look a certain way.

I’ve stared at those pictures and wanted abs like that, of course I have. Then I’ve remembered how much I love the freshly baked chocolate cookies sold at work, and my boyfriend’s fantastic cooking, and training for triathlon interspersed with being curled up on the couch reading a good book or watching a film, or being in the pub laughing with my mates. My #excuse is that the pursuit of the so-called “perfect” (I dispute that) body is not my aim in life – not even close. My #excuse is that there are so many other things I love doing rather than dedicate myself to having ripped abs! What’s your excuse?



  1. Thanks for the mention! I’m sure we can agree to disagree about some of the facets of This Girl Can. I did prefer the #LikeAGirl campaign as it was more neutral in terms of attempting to define femininity via narrow stereotypes, and it has long irked me that doing something ‘like a girl’ is considered an insult. I’d say the yoga classes at my gym are around a 70/30 split in terms of women/men, but I think it would be great to have campaigns on both sides encouraging both men and women to participate in sports typically associated with the opposite gender. Really, I’d just love to see an end to any judgement at all regarding how one ‘should’ act or look, and I hope there is a backlash against a society that seems to be becoming ever more rigid when it comes to gender boundaries…which are all just culturally created and subjective anyway.

    I don’t find ab shots offensive, and I think the women involved in the fitspo ones would be fine if they let the images speak for themselves. The captions are what annoy me: the tone is combative and conceited. I don’t personally have an excuse at all, and I would love to look the way these people do, but at the same time they don’t seem to acknowledge that there is any desirable appearance beyond their own. It’s all very well showcasing one type of body that you have worked hard for, but it doesn’t mean that it’s something that everyone else needs or even wants to strive for.

    • Completely agree re the #likeagirl campaign although I have heard people say it’s dispiriting as it is advertising a company, Always, who doesn’t always have a great record in how they portray periods. I disagree with those people… I love the ad, and I think Always is changing it’s attitude anyway. 100% agree re backlash against a society that seems to be becoming ever more rigid… I am 26 and have a family friend witha 2 year old daughter that we are always buying presents for. My mum says that it is so much worse now than it was when I was a kid in the gender segregation of toys – very hard to buy her anything that isn’t pink! And 100 years ago pink was considered a boy’s colour anyway as it was “strong” like red and blue was calm and peaceful like all little girls of course are. (heavy sarcasm ūüôā )
      Finally, in the interests of just agreeing with you one more time (this is starting to get slightly repetitive!!!) if I had a stomach like that I would constantly be photographing it in ab shots. But without the conceited comments, as you say. There are a few young triathletes I follow on instagram who have incredible bodies (although they are young and bodies naturally fill out as you get into your twenties) but all their “ab shots” are of them doing things that they just so happen to be doing in a crop top. Much more inspiring to see a young girl with an incredible body sweating her way through a bike interval workout / pulling some awesome yoga pose than sucking her belly in and standing still with a “no excuses” caption!!!!

  2. Thanks for the shout out Alice! I’ve got mixed feelings about the ‘like a girl’ ad. This Vagenda post sort of coloured it a bit for me but I like the idea behind it. For me though, it’s not young girls that need to be told ‘it’s okay to throw like a girl’ but actually young men who need to know that ‘throwing like a girl’ is not an insult. You know? Like sometimes I feel these campaigns are all directed at women who need to get over their preconceptions about femininity and exercise and not enough at men who don’t want women there at all. This might be influenced by the fact that I had too many leering lads give me the once over on my run to work this morning (honestly, are shorts that exciting!?)

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