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Women’s Rugby Players Unite In Support Of Body Positivity

When Canterbury of New Zealand, the official kit sponsor of Ireland’s Rugby teams, released images of the new men’s and women’s uniforms, women’s rugby player Florence Williams of the Wasps Ladies was disturbed.

When Canterbury of New Zealand, the official kit sponsor of Ireland’s Rugby teams, released images of the new men’s and women’s uniforms, women’s rugby player Florence Williams of the Wasps Ladies was disturbed.

“SPOT THE DIFFERENCE,” Williams’ tweet began. “3 Models, 3 International Players, 3 Profiles Lifted, 1 HUGE Opportunity missed. By not using the female players to market THEIR OWN KIT an opportunity to build recognition, fan bases & creating role models for future generations is lost.”

Canterbury’s decision to use female models and male players sparked outrage and disappointment within the women’s rugby community on Twitter, leading to the rise of #IamEnough to promote and support body image positivity among female athletes. 

The disparity between celebrating strong female athletes on the field and shaming women who are anything but thin in the rest of society is a huge problem in women’s sports. As Warwick Women’s Rugby Club President Ellie Gisbourne told The Boar in response to the Canterbury campaign, “The athleticism of a woman is not perceived as sexy and that’s the core issue here.”

#IamEnough resonated strongly with a generation of female athletes like rugby player Rhona Lloyd of Scotland, who grew up without muscular, strong female role models. Lloyd avoided working out as a young player in fear of gaining bulky muscles, and shared her full for support for #IamEnough. 

“I play a physical sport. You need to have some muscle behind you so it’s getting over that mental block and embracing that,” she told BBC. “Now being strong is really cool. I want to be that role model that I didn’t have.

Women’s rugby players around the world posted photos of themselves online with messy hair, strong bodies, and mid-game action shots. Simi Hannah Pam, a doctor and rugby player for the Bristol Bears, posted “I am enough… and I have had enough … I stand with my fellow queens of women’s rugby, who are sick and tired of being made to feel inadequate. We stand together now and always, and demand that the perception and the narratives that surround being a female athlete changes.”

Perhaps one of the more surprising proponents of the hashtag is Canterbury themselves, who issued a quick apology and vowed to always use both male and female players to advertise their own kits. #iamenough brought together women from around the world at a grand scale that surprised many who were vocal in the movement.

“To see so many female rugby players sharing their experiences of sexism in sport or body image or why the campaign mattered to them…. I’ve never seen that unity from the rugby community,” Lloyd told BBC.

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