It figures is Yahoo Life’s body image series, which delves into the journeys of important and inspiring figures as they explore what self-confidence, body neutrality and self-love mean to them.
Alex Morgan has dedicated her body to the sport of football since she started as a young girl and eventually became known throughout her professional career. But for the 32-year-old, her purpose as an athlete to defend gender equality in sports is more obvious than ever.
“As a mom and I have been fighting for gender equality for more than six years in public against our employer, US Soccer has given me a new perspective on the amazingness that every woman has in her hands and the ability to create. change, “Morgan told Yahoo Life before the news that US Soccer had agreed to guarantee equal pay. “I am very proud to be able to stand on this platform and be able to do things for myself, my daughter, the women of the next generation.”
On the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which gave women the opportunity to participate in sports, Morgan celebrates her own journey as an athlete. However, it recognizes the ways in which gender inequality persists.
“Being a woman is so different from being a man. And in the field of athletes, men have really set the standard historically, because men’s sports have always been accepted. Men have always been accepted in sports and women have not always been “In many parts of the world, women are still not accepted into sports,” she explains. women and men. And that definitely includes body image, diet, needs on and off the field. or in and out of the gym. Really accepting the wide range of each individual body. “
While there are obvious differences between the treatment of men and women in her sport – mainly the fact that Morgan has long had “20 times less than the male athlete equivalent to my capacity or skills on the football field” – also points out the difference on how athletes should take care of their bodies. She remembers many trials and errors while discovering how to better feed herself to perform.
“I learned a little more as I became a professional athlete just what it takes to nourish my body nutritionally. Before I really did not focus on that. I also gradually became a vegetarian vegan and felt it was a really important part of my body recovering faster, I can “When I was younger, I did a lot of things where I pushed my body into things I really shouldn’t have because of the external pressures I had from coaches or peers or the environment I was in as a team.” “And really not having the confidence to get myself out of thinking that what others thought of me was more important than what I thought of myself.”
In terms of general body acceptance, Morgan notes both the pros and cons of having a variety of body types in women’s soccer in particular.
“I’m really lucky that there are all kinds of teammates who have different bodies than me, and that’s perfectly fine. Football does not put a certain body type in a box. They are taller, shorter, you know, it does not matter,” he says. “But it ‘s also really challenging because you find yourself comparing when you can not really compare.”
Apart from her sport, she even found it difficult to feel that she did not fit the athlete’s stereotype, nor did she feel in line with the general standards of beauty. “Something that can be accepted in football as the body of an athlete, without being really thin but weak, is not accepted outside the sports world. And so growing up, I think there was definitely a difficulty with that acceptance.”
She considers her support system that helped her defend these negative beliefs with constant reminders of the purpose she serves as an athlete.
“If I did not have my husband, with whom I have been with for 15 years now, and friends and family who are in my circle of trust, I think it would be much more difficult than it was for me,” she said. says. “I could rely on them and take advantage of this acceptance of myself that I would not otherwise have had if they had not told me over and over again that you as a human being should not be defined by your appearance, the way you play. the field, but instead of what you are defending and what you believe and with whom you are surrounded “.
Most importantly, Morgan needed to learn how to have self-confidence when it comes to her relationship with her body.
“No one knows your body like you do. And I think it took a lot of learning experiences to really understand what that meant,” he explains. “I feel that many times, I still learn this and I still face situations where I am being tested and challenged to defend my body.”
Some of these challenges arose through Morgan’s appearances in the 2019 issue Sports Illustrated swimwear and a 2021 SKIMS campaign, where her body was exposed in a different way than on the pitch.
“I’m not really trying to make a statement, I’m just trying to do what I love to do and that is to play football. And then I get these opportunities because of my ability in football to be able to play Sports Illustrated coverage, so you can work with other athletes for a big sponsor at the Olympics like SKIMS, so you can team up with some of the best athletes in other sports for a Super Bowl commercial for Michelob Ultra. “These are just incredible opportunities where I do not take it very seriously,” he says. “I do not think, ‘Oh, what will people think of me if I do this?’ I think, ‘Is this fun? Is it what I see that I feel comfortable doing in terms of my name and who I am? Is it authentic for myself and the people or the brand I am surrounded by? ‘”
Now, her compass for how she behaves in her body, determines her value as a woman and fights for equality as an athlete is Charlie’s two-year-old daughter. Through her pregnancy, the birth and upbringing of her daughter, Morgan gained a new perspective on how she takes care of herself.
“I learned to listen to my body more than ever and accept my body, regardless of the number on the scales or the way I look at myself in the mirror. It was just a transformative experience that raises a person And knowing that I was not the priority here, she was my daughter. “And I think focusing on someone other than myself took into account the perspective I needed to really trust the process,” he explained. “And now that I am a mom, an athlete and I am competing at the highest level again, I feel that my perspective has changed forever in the way I look at my body. I do not see it as something I have to abuse on the football field, running it on the ground and watching every last step I could get out of it. It’s really like appreciating how incredible my body is and the things I can accomplish with my body. I appreciate it more than I have ever given it in the past “.
Do you want lifestyle and wellness news to be transmitted to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life Newsletter.