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This Girl Can: Campaign to get women involved in sport and exercise proves huge hit

The advert aims to tell the 'real story' of women who exercise and play sport. Credit: Sport England

Sport England's new campaign to get more women involved in sport has proved a hit, attracting more than one million views in just four days.

The "This Girl Can" video shows women - none of who are models - of varying ages and sizes exercising and taking part in sport, to the sound of rapper Missy Elliot's hit 'Get Ur Freak On'.

Slogans including "sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox", "I jiggle therefore I am" and "I kick balls, deal with it" also appear throughout the 90-second advert.

The advert is aiming to "empower women" and reduce the "significant gender gap" in sport, after research suggested that women are being put off exercise by the fear of being judged about their appearance and ability.

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Two million fewer women, aged 14 to 40, are taking part in sport or exercise than men - despite 75% saying they want to be more active, Sport England said.

"This Girl Can celebrates the women who are doing their thing no matter how they do it, how they look or even how sweaty they get," the advert explains.

"They’re here to inspire us to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgement is a barrier that can be overcome."

The campaign - backed by Sally Gunnell, Clare Balding and Dame Kelly Holmes - has been praised as "inspirational".

The campaign is supported by Clare Balding, Dame Kelly Holmes and Sally Gunnell. Credit: Sport England
Sport England says fear of judgement is stopping women exercising. Credit: Sport England
The video has received a mixed reception after more than one million views. Credit: Sport England

Balding, a sports presenter for the BBC and BT Sport, told the Telegraph that she finds it "staggering" that nothing like the advert has been done before.

"This ad is trying to reach women who have felt for whatever reason that exercise or sport is not for them, that it’s an exclusive club they can’t join," Balding said.

"And I think the most powerful way of doing that is to show women who look like you doing it and don’t be afraid if you wobble. It doesn’t matter. We all wobble.”

Clare Balding is among the high-profile names backing the campaign. Credit: Sport England

But critics argue that it is patronising and objectifies women.

Simone Fullagar, a professor of sport and physical cultural studies at the University of Bath - said the advert is "still all about women's flesh" and fails to focus on the positives of exercise "outside the cult of body worship".

Jennie Price, Sport England chief executive, said: "Every single woman I have talked to about this campaign – and that is now hundreds – has identified with this, and it is that fear of not being ‘good enough’ in some way, and the fear that you are the only one who feels like that, that we want to address."

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