Our next article comes from VicHealth CEO, Jerril Rechter. With a passion for health promotion, leadership and innovations that improve the health and welfare of the community, it’s no surprise she contributed to the recent Inquiry into Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation and the Work Health Advisory Group. Her article, This Girl Can, promotes VicHealth’s campaign encouraging all women and girls to be physically active.  

As women, we often find very good reasons not to keep active. We’re too busy, the kids’ activities come first, or we’re so stretched that getting out there and walking around the block is the last thing on our minds. Behind all that, there’s a deeper reason that keeps many of us from keeping active – a fear of being judged.

That’s exactly why our new This Girl Can – Victoria campaign is resonating with so many women. This Girl Can – Victoria is about empowering women to feel comfortable in their bodies and public spaces. It aims to inspire, motivate and support women to be physically active, no matter how they look, how good they are, or how sweaty they get.

Our campaign connects with so many women because we’ve all been there. We’ve all been that woman who’s too embarrassed, intimidated or shamed to exercise. We’ve been told: we should be at home with the kids, we should lose weight and we shouldn’t wear lycra!

VicHealth research has revealed over half of Victorian women worry about being judged when exercising. They worry more than men about keeping up and being unfit, and find it harder to go back to exercise when they haven’t done it for a while – particularly after having kids. For more than 40 percent of us, this feeling of embarrassment or intimidation is so strong it actually stops us from taking part in sport or exercise.

At the centre of This Girl Can – Victoria is a powerful TV advertisement starring 12 local women – no airbrushed Instagram models – overcoming their fears and giving it a go; curves, jiggles and wrinkles, in all their glory. The women, from across Victoria, get their sweat on in a range of activities from boxing, cycling and roller-derby to netball and Aussie rules.

We’re extremely proud of the campaign and no matter how many times I watch it, I get a bit emotional because I relate to it personally.

I’m that girl who was afraid to do something I’d always wanted to do – windsurfing.

I had lessons and I had the gear, but when I got to the beach I found it too daunting to get out of the car. I’d sit there for ages trying to find the courage, and then I’d drive home day after day, saying the wind was too light, too heavy… But really, as a beginner, I didn’t want to look awkward setting up my rig in front of seasoned windsurfers.

In the end, I took a very deep breath, got out of the car and I’m proud to say I’ve now been enjoying getting out on the water whenever I can. It doesn’t matter what I look like, how good I am, or how sweaty I get – I’m giving it a go!  At the end of the day, that’s what matters.

And I’d encourage every woman to do what makes you happy and get active, simply because you can!

You can get involved by joining the community and following #ThisGirlCanVIC on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or by visiting the website: www.thisgirlcan.com.au

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