Feminista Film Festival

Feminista Film Festival - A Pretty Place To Play

According to research from Women in Sport and the Youth Sport Trust, only 56% of girls see being physically active as important, in comparison to 71% of boys. Less than 50% of girls see PE as relevant to their lives, and most troublingly girls appear to start losing interest in physical activity at just seven years old. I don’t know about you, but this absolutely breaks my heart. Not only are we missing out of potential sporting talent, girls are missing out on all the opportunities that being active can bring them. The boost of confidence, the hormones than make you feel good, the camaraderie of being in a team and that moment away from all the other pressures of the world.

So how do you stop girls losing interest? From thinking that sport isn’t for them? Academics at Canterbury Christ Church University have suggested that identifying and encouraging more female role models in sport could help prove to girls that physical activity is just as relevant to their lives as it is to their male peers. It’s a bit simplistic, but I do believe you can’t be what you can’t see. If girls don’t see women achieving in sport, how do they know that physical activity is for them?

Feminista Film Festival - A Pretty Place To Play

However, as research has widely acknowledged, there’s a real shortage of female role models in physical activity at all levels, whether it’s professional, grass roots or performance sports, as well as coaching, teaching and in sports science and management. In fact, there were no women in recent lists of the top 100 highest paid athletes. The thing is, it’s not like there aren’t women out there doing amazing things. There really are. The issue is making women in sport visible. Telling women’s stories and creating those role models. That’s where documentary film making comes in. I love documentaries, they allow complex stories to be told in creative and engaging ways. A great documentary captures your imagination and inspires you to do more, go further. Documentaries are inspirational and empowering. Yep, it’s not mass media coverage or insane sponsorship deals (both things I could talk about for hours, there’s some complex relationships going down there), but it’s a start.

Feminista Film Festival - A Pretty Place To Play

Feminista Film Festival is a three-day film festival from 28-30 September which uses the power of documentary film to celebrate female athletes and artists. The aim of the festival is to increase visibility of women in sport and the arts by creating a platform to tell their stories on screen. More information, full programme details and tickets can be found here

There are so many amazing films on the programme. From the deeply powerful ‘The War To Be Here’ where young Maria Toorpakai defies the rules of the Taliban controlled area of Waziristan by disguising herself as a boy, so she can play sport freely, to the inspriational ‘The Mirnavator’ that explores the psychological side of ultra running. Plus, the whole of Saturday is devoted to family-friendly films, perfect for those girls in your life that might not think movement, physical activity and sport are for them. Film is powerful, and while this might not be the biggest festival, or the most well known, it’s quietly making waves so that one day all girls and boys will believe that physical activity is important.

*images via Feminista Film Festival


I Quit My Job

I Quit My Job - A Pretty Place to Play

Today is my last day at the organisation where I’ve worked for more than 8 years. I started just before my 25th birthday, fresh out of law school (yep, I went to law school). I intended to stay for a year, but my office turned into a stable force in my life few a number of very difficult years. It was my colleagues sponsoring me for my first 10km that got me running, and support from my managers that meant I could leave on time to go to lectures. I carved a path out for myself, influenced how things were done and hopefully made an impact. I’d be lying if I said I’d enjoyed every moment, jobs are still jobs and there have definitely been moments where I’ve loathed mine, but eight years in one place leaves an impact, and it will be weird never going back.

I Quit My Job - A Pretty Place to Play

When I applied for my MSc a few years ago I said I wanted to talk with authority about women in sport. I still do. Academia gets me going. I have a talent for research and sharing ideas, and that’s what I want to do with my life. After the toughest application process I’ve ever been through I’ve been accepted to undertake doctoral research in management at Birkbeck College, University of London where I’ll mostly be found in the Sport Business Centre chatting gender in sport.

My title? ‘You Got Chicked: images and representations of women in ultra running’.

I want to understand the identities that form around women in sport, how these are created and imposed, and how sports like ultra running might present opportunities to challenge gender-based expectations in sport and society. I am so excited to get stuck in, from the reading I’ve done so far this isn’t an area that’s been explored in a great deal of depth, and there’s so much to pick apart and start trying to understand. I’m literally bouncing up and down thinking about it! This is the dream, getting to spend three years exploring what I’m most passionate about.

I Quit My Job - A Pretty Place to Play

I still can’t believe my hard work has paid off, it’s like I’m living a dream. I’ve been contemplating whether my future would include a PhD since the second term of my masters degree. Applying took the best part of six months, producing a well researched proposal (basically an essay) and subjecting myself to a little chat that left me unable to speak it felt so intense. Even once I’d been offered a place there were more applications for funding, and a tense wait to see if any money would be coming my way. PhD funding isn’t easy to secure, particularly outside the sciences and particularly if you’re proposing research you’ve dreamed up, rather than taking on a brief. It continues to blow my mind that I’ve been fully funded for the next three years to do something I love. To know that people you respect have that much faith in you is something else.

I Quit My Job - A Pretty Place To Play

Around my studies I’ll also be building my experience in the fitness industry working at Heartcore, one of my favourite studios in London. I’m really looking forward to getting involved and being part of the client services team, so make sure you come say hi and check out some of the great classes. Of course there’ll also be training for The Speed Project, blogging and working on all sorts of other projects keeping me busy, but I can’t wait! You know they say that you should try and build a life you love? I think I may just be getting there.

*Image: Anna Rachel Photography

Cycling in the City with B'Twin

Cycling in the City with B'Twin - A Pretty Place to Play

I've flirted with the idea of a bike for as long as I've lived in London. When I first moved here I had an ancient hand-me-down set of wheels and got spooked by a bus the one time I hit the road. Many years later I acquired another ancient hand-me-down which I pootled around town on but knew was not exactly roadworthy (it was very not roadworthy), and knowing your bike isn't totally safe doesn't make the idea of riding it particularly attractive. So there've been a few false starts on the bike front, but the idea of zipping around town still holds major appeal. And I think Doris might be the ride to get me into the habit. 

Doris is a beautiful little red folding bike (a B'Twin Tilt 120 to be specific). She is just as comfortable wizzing along the cycle superhighway as she is nestled in a corner of the tube. She's a bit of a head turner, but I don't have to worry about her staying out all night because she fits so neatly into that space by the table in the living room. She is perfect. 

Cycling in the City with B'Twin - A Pretty Place to Play

I chose Doris after a lot of thought about how I live my life and what I want from my wheels. In the past I've had full size town bikes which I've found bulky and cumbersome. They had to live in bike stores and I'd have to haul them through corridors and doors to get them out to the street. Then if I needed to stop my bike had to be locked up, usually outside, with a complex array of locks. It just always felt like a mega faff, which isn't really what you think of when you think about the freedom of cycling! No, this time I wanted something that worked with my life. A bike I could keep in my flat, take with me into the office, take on the tube if needed. A foldie ticks all those boxes. 

I won't lie, the idea of cycling in London can be scary, it definitely was the first time I tried. But these days I'm older and wiser, a few years ago I went on a course all about how to cycle safely in the city (I can't for the life of me remember who it was with!) and it really helped my confidence. I picked up so many tips and generally felt much more prepared to head out on the roads, it's definitely something I'd recommend all cyclists do! Cycle infrastructure in London has also come a really long way - the cycle superhighway is life changing (and life saving) and CityMapper is ace for finding safer routes around the city. I've uncovered so many quiet routes I never knew existed using that app, it's awesome! It's changes like this that have encouraged me to cycle, and help me feel more confident doing it.  

I can't wait to start exploring London with Doris, we've already discovered so many cool routes and it's only been a couple of weeks! Follow our adventures over the next few months using the hashtag #AdventuresWithDoris and let me know your tips for city cycling! 

* Doris was kindly gifted to me by Decathlon, but as always all opinions are my own.