Sophie Goodwin: Former footballer urges body image education

Posted: 4th November 2021

Former footballer Sophie Goodwin says more education is required to emphasise “fitness doesn’t mean being thin”.

Goodwin was targeted with abuse as a youth player and developed an eating disorder during her senior career.

And the ex-Montrose keeper feels more needs to be done to disassociate female players’ talent and their body image.

“People think it’s acceptable to make comments about female athletes bodies in a way that they never would a man,” Goodwin told Good Morning Scotland.

“If a male footballer misses a penalty or a shot or whatever it is, it’s his skills that are critiqued, not his physical appearance.

“It’s about changing the way we talk about women’s bodies; not talking about them in a certain way so we don’t reinforce unobtainable standards or constructs of what a woman’s body should or shouldn’t look like.”

‘I was made to feel I wasn’t good enough’

Goodwin explained on BBC Radio Scotland that, at the height of her illness, she was “incapable of walking from room to room in my house let alone getting on the pitch”.

“I first experienced the negative side to the game when I actually moved to my club and I started playing at under-13s level,” she explained.

“Boys from my school used to come to my matches and single me out and stand behind my goal and call me fat and a pig because I was a slightly bigger kid on the team. Those comments stick with you from such a young age.

“I was made to feel like as if I wasn’t good enough to play sport because of the way I looked. Unfortunately, for me it had tough consequences down the line.”

And Goodwin, now a journalist with the Press & Journal newspaper, added: “When I did make the move to women’s senior football – it’s a faster paced game than juniors – I tried to get a bit fitter and unfortunately I developed an eating disorder and really pushed my body to the brink, where it couldn’t cope and could no longer play football.

“My advice would be for coaches and those involved in football, whether it’s parents or external bodies, to be aware of the way they speak about women’s bodies, because for me it was throwaway comments about how I looked that kind of led to me getting so ill.

“People need to understand that fitness doesn’t mean being thin.”

Source: BBC NEWS, November 2021

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