Roller girls’ blast at ‘feminine’ exercise gaffe

Auld Reekie girls Lianne Parry, left, and Beth Holmes. Picture: Greg Macvean
Auld Reekie girls Lianne Parry, left, and Beth Holmes. Picture: Greg Macvean
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ROLLER derby competitors from the Capital have hit out at comments from a Westminster government minister suggesting women should be encouraged to do “feminine” exercise.

Minister for Sport and Equalities Helen Grant was quoted saying women taking part in sport “don’t have to feel unfeminine”.

She said: “There are some wonderful sports which you can do and perform to a very high level, and I think those participating look absolutely radiant and very feminine, such as ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading and even ­rollerskating.”

She added that she had seen young girls taking part in a rollerskating event who “looked absolutely gorgeous”, adding: “They were wearing their socks pulled up, beautiful socks with sequins and their hair was done.”

The comments angered members of the Capital’s roller derby league The Auld Reekie Roller Girls.

Beth Holmes, aka Ciderella, 26, of Northfield, who is Captain of ARRG Travel Team The Twisted Thistles, said the comments left her feeling “annoyed” and “frustrated”.

She said: “I’m sure her heart was in the right place but comments like that are part of the problem. We should be teaching women not to be concerned about their appearance during physical activity. If one of the things holding women back from sport is the way they are portrayed in the media then that is what we should be addressing, not encouraging them to fit a particular image.

“Women should be taught that there are no limits to what they can do.”

Fellow Twisted Thistle Lianne Parry, aka Crazy Legs, of Cramond, agreed more needed to be done to move the focus away from what is only skin deep.

She said: “All she has really done is highlight a massive issue which holds so many women back from doing sport – the focus being on how you look when you are doing it, which is often the main thing that gets reported.

“Perpetuating the idea that certain sports are ‘unfeminine’ is a real step backwards. We need to highlight the positive aspects of sport. You can learn new skills, build your confidence, boost your physical and mental health and enjoy the feeling of competition. This is what we should be encouraging women to strive for.”

The comments came as Edinburgh Leisure renewed its commitment to getting more young women interested in physical activity, while Olympic skeleton gold medallist Lizzy Yarnold vowed to use her win to inspire more girls to play sport and challenge “the media image of the perfect woman”.

Health 4 U, a programme delivered by Edinburgh Leisure and funded by NHS Lothian, works with girls aged 13-15 to educate them about body image, and the unrealistic images portrayed in the media.

Research showed 87 per cent of participants felt more confident and motivated to lead a healthier lifestyle as a result.