Happy New Year, everyone! For my first post of 2016, I have been gifted a topic by a red hot (or should that be hot pink?) debate raging in Ireland right now.
[Sidenote: I wrote the first draft of this using a Bic for Her ballpoint pen… If you haven’t read the Amazon reviews I implore you to do so. For the good of your hand health.]
Whilst idly browsing Twitter this morning, I came across something posted by Her.ie magazine that made me double-take. An Irish company appear to be promoting a new product, marketed at women, to encourage the uptake of Gaelic Football by female players – enter, the Ladyball. That’s right y’all, the squidgy, pink #Ladyball.
“The all new Ladyball specifically designed for a lady’s game – soft touch for a woman’s grip, eazi-play for a woman’s ability, fashion-driven for a woman’s style. Play like the lady you are.”
Now, a lot of people are getting pretty hacked off with this as a concept on Twitter:
— baby dolphin (@BlaisinSquad) January 14, 2016
Hell, even the Telegraph has had a pop: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/12099023/Pink-Ladyball-designed-for-women-footballers-has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed.html
But if you read the small print of the website carefully, you’ll see that the Ladyball is “a concept project designed to encourage more women to play sports. Not yet in development – distribution and sale may be subject to demand” i.e. none of them have actually been made. It’s a joke, lads. An elaborate PR stunt. And, to my mind, one that’s hilarious, has been fantastically well executed and provoked an important conversation: Why do marketers feel the need to feminise products to sell the idea of sport to women?
Why is there so much pink fluff being forced upon us sporty lady types now? From Davina McCall’s exercise range for Argos (don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer that everyone should own a kettlebell or two for impromptu fitness DVD workouts, but why it has to be pretty is beyond me) to Maxi Nutrition’s Sculptress range (which is their weight management line and the only line of products directly marketed at women with images of slender models aplenty – it’s not a bad range of products in and of itself, but don’t some women want to work on gaining muscle mass? And don’t some men want to lose weight?).
[Another side note: Katie and I are planning to look into the protein and supplements world further in an upcoming post to question why, amongst other things, we need matching pink shakers – is it in case anyone at the gym were to judge us chugging our protein out of a man’s shaker?]
If I ran the world’s marketing of health and fitness, I would get on to the guys who came up with the Yorkie ‘Not for girls‘ campaign in the early 2000’s. I have such vivid memories of my Dad (being the wind-up merchant that he is and clearly having an eye for clever marketing) teasing me and my sisters by saying he would only be buying Yorkies for my brother from now on. Our consumption of Yorkies rocketed almost immediately as we went out of our way to demand them through sheer outrage and indignation. I can do anything the boys can do. Just you try and stop me.
So why not put a sign on the door of every gym and sports club that reads “No Girls Allowed”, a la The Little Rascals, and watch as hoards of women up and down the country climb into their lycra armor to wage war.
No lack of pink will stop us. No outdated views about women being super-feminine wallflowers apply to us. No amount of body-shaming or sniggering will bother us.
We just need to blow the bloody doors off. And we don’t need pink, fluffy, magical fairy wands to do that, we just need faith our own female strength and our massive Ladyballs.
We’d love to know what you think – leave us a comment or tweet us @thesegirlsdo