This is a fascinating look at Britain’s culture and attitude towards women and sport. Kessel explores how society treats and educates girls about exercise, from a young age through to adulthood, and how it impacts on wider life, including career success and confidence. Her book is crammed with statistics, anecdotes and quotes. She discusses the media’s role in perpetuating unhealthy body stereotypes, best exemplified with the tennis player Serena Williams, who is regularly criticised for her strong physique. Kessel talks about the continuing sexism in football and the public outcry that occurred in 2007 when the BBC tried to put a (competent and qualified) female presenter on Match of the Day and then scrapped the idea. One of the most shocking impacts described was from the Tsunami of 2004 when a disproportionately large number of women died, as girls were not taught the life skill of swimming.
The recent advertising campaign ‘This Girl Can’ is trying to encourage participation, and shows women of various ages and sizes, sweating, laughing and enjoying sport on their own terms. This book is a call to arms to keep moving.
This book was recommended by Laura Houliston.