Cycling UK is turning a Victorian health scare on its head by calling on female cyclists to post pictures of their ‘bicycle face’ to encourage more women to take up cycling.
During the Victorian era, ‘bicycle face’ and other scare tactics were deployed to prevent women from cycling. At the time women were viewed as weak and fragile but the bicycle craze sweeping the nation was challenging this notion. Women were suddenly able to travel independently, more practical fashions were evolving, and women were campaigning for the right to vote.
In response, 19th-century doctors warned women that cycling was dangerous for women’s health. Cycling, they said, would give women a hunched back, wearied face and masculine features, ruining their chances of finding a husband.
Luckily, the benefits of fresh air and exercise that the bicycle brought were soon recognised, and the myth of bicycle face and other health scares were exposed. The struggle for equality has continued into the 21st century, with men still accounting for the majority of miles cycled in the UK.
Cycling UK’s annual Women’s Festival of Cycling is taking place between 17th July and 1st August and is sponsored by Raleigh. During the festival, the charity is asking women to share photographs of their ‘real’ bicycle face on social media, and tag their friends, to demonstrate the fun and freedom cycling brings.
Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK chief executive, said: “We want to celebrate the diversity of women who cycle and the broad range of cycling they do. Whether you’re a commuter, mountain biker, leisure cyclist or road cyclist, share a picture of yourself. If we’re ever to see gender parity in cycling, women need to see more women like them cycling.”
Read the July issue of BikeBiz below: