Girls and Sports: The Power of Showing Real Women Being Strong

6 years ago

A few weeks back, I wrote about the positive effect it can have on girls to portray female athletes engaged in their sports, being strong and competent, rather than as sexualized objects. For instance, here is a women’s rugby marketing campaign on campus that shows real women being strong. The campaign is for the club at Arizona State University.

Photo Credit: Communication Arts.

Here’s what Abby Vester, vice president of the team, said in an email to me:

The posters have been an excellent help to us not only in terms of recruiting, but in spreading the word about women's rugby in general. With rugby just being added to the 2016 Summer Olympics along with becoming one of the fastest growing sports in America, we definitely chose a great time to release these posters.

When she asks new recruits where they heard about the team, “Most of them said they saw our posters on campus and could not help but check it out.” Ms. Vester said some prospective players see the posters and say they like the idea of a sport where they get to hit people and work hard. Others think they aren’t tough enough. Ms. Vester says,

One of our best players is a former cheerleader (only sport she played in high school). Others had never even played a sport at all until joining rugby. The girls in our posters, when seen outside of practice and games, look like they might not even play such an intense sport. But look how intense they are in those images!

She tells them, "You are so much tougher than you think.”

I found this comment from Ms. Vester especially satisfying: “Some of our coach's acquaintances have asked to purchase sets of posters, and local bars and other establishments have been more than happy to display them at their businesses.” People like these ads, and they don’t even show airbrushed female body parts. Real women. Tough. Playing sports. And they are popular.

Erin McNeill blogs about parenting in a media-saturated world at Marketing, Media and Childhood.

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