An athlete is anyone who moves their body for the fun and thrill of moving it, regardless of size or ability.
Target's latest ad gets that in a major way.
The latest campaign for the company's activewear line, C9 Champion, showcases badass athletes kicking butt at any age and size and in any activity or discipline. These are real people with real bodies we need to see more of.
There's a black man doing yoga on a football field. And why shouldn't there be? Go 'head on, brother.
All GIFs via Target/YouTube.
A young kid shreds on a skateboard, having the time of their life. See you in the X Games, kiddo!
A woman with a disability zips up a rope, making a hard feat look effortless. You're killing it!
And teen ballerina Lizzy Howell even makes an appearance, doing dazzling pirouettes. Rock it, girl!
These athletes aren't the exceptions; they're the rule.
No matter your size, shape, ability, or activity, there is no wrong way to be an athlete.
It doesn't matter what your middle-school P.E. teacher said or what runs through your head while you're at the gym. You may not get paid for what you do or even be especially good at it. But if it makes your heart happy and keeps you moving, congratulations, you're an athlete.
Seeing people of different abilities, body types, sizes, backgrounds and ages celebrate their bodies and strength is empowering and affirming.
Actor Riz Ahmed said it perfectly in his lecture on diversity and representation at British Parliament: "Every time you see yourself in a magazine, on a billboard, TV, film — it’s a message that you matter, you’re part of the national story, that you’re valued. You feel represented."
Real representation and visibility connect us to people who aren't like us and challenge our expectations of what different bodies can do. Some people may not think of black men as graceful or lithe or even recognize that plus-size ballerinas exist, let alone shine.
Target's ad is proof that even 40 seconds of representation can change minds. But we need more. Imagine what a blockbuster movie or a slate of new children's TV shows could do?
Image via Target/YouTube.