Women Who Have Overcome Difficulties To Enjoy Sport
Some forms of exercise are much harder than others, and aren't for the faint hearted. Plus gyms can be seriously intimidating, especially with the rise of 'gym selfies' and wearing revealing outfits.
As a result, the thought of exercising can be off-putting. You may feel embarrassed because of your shape, or perhaps an injury or health issue has caused you to lose confidence. And you're not alone - a study found that 75% of women in the UK don't exercise as much as they'd like to through fear of being judged over their appearance and ability.
But don't let that stop you. Because because sport is for everyone. You just need a bit of encouragement.
So in honour of the launch of our first active wear label, Boudavida - a brand dedicated to helping all women feel confident and enjoy sport - we thought we'd share with you some stories of women, both in sport and other industries, who overcame health and/or body issues and their own demons. We hope they will inspire you to know that, whilst everyone has struggles, there are no barriers you can't overcome to enjoy physical activity:
Novelene William-Mills - The Jamaican sprinter was 30 and at the peak of her career when she discovered she had breast cancer. Despite this, she decided to compete in the 2012 London Olympics, winning bronze in the 4x400m.
Simone Biles - The US four-time Olympic champion has been repeatedly trolled online, with people attacking her physique. Fighting back, she said "Women can have muscles and still be beautiful", and noted that she would never have won her four gold medals if it wasn't for her physique.
Dame Kelly Holmes - The athlete has openly spoken about how she self harmed regularly in 2003 to release anxiety after suffering sporting injuries. A year later she went on to win the Gold in the 800m and 1500m at the Athens Olympics.
Adrianne Haslet-Davis - The 34 professional ballroom dancer lost her leg in the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. 36 months latter she ran the 2016 Boston Marathon. She also continues to dance, refusing to hide her prosthetic left lower leg.
Vanessa Hudgens - The actress has spoken about being extremely self-conscious of having 'tree trunk legs' as a result of doing a lot of dancing from a young age. But she has grown to accept her body and continues to wear whatever she likes.
Naomi Teeter - The nutritionist & health coach has said going to the gym when she weighted 300 pounds (nearly 21 1/2 stone) was one of the most difficult things she personally had to do. Through challenging her mindset, she lost 125 pounds (just under 9 stone) and is now a best selling author inspiring women to love themselves.
Serena Williams - The tennis superstar has spoken about how she felt insecure for not having an athletic figure like her competitors. But she gradually became proud of her "curves... large boobs and butt'" and we all know that hasn't held her back!
Misty Copeland - The ballerina has spoken about how artistic staff told her she had put on too much weight. Despite being what most people would consider 'super thin', she was seen as 'fat' by her industry. It caused her to become introverted, and her performance to suffer. After surrounding herself with more positive individuals outside the dance world, she felt more relaxed and comfortable.
Beyonce - The superstar wrote the song 'Bootylicious' because, at the time, she'd gained weight and felt pressure to lose it. She was only 18. Fortunately the song has become an anthem for loving all women's bodies, encouraging women to get up and dance everywhere. And Beyonce continues to be known for her fierce dance moves.
Jessica Ennis-Hill - The heptathlete was allegedly called 'fat' by a senior figure at the British Athetlics. She went on to be the face of the London 2012 olympics and win the gold.
Oprah Winfrey - The media mogal and business woman frequently talks about her 40 year weight struggle. She even bought a 10% stake in Weight Watchers in 2015. Now she simply wants to stay healthy and feel good, physically and mentally: "I can't accept myself if I'm over 200 pounds, because it's too much work on my heart".
These are just a few examples of women who have battled with difficulties to accept themselves and feel comfortable whilst doing physical activity - whether it's hard-core athletics, or gentle forms. As they show, there is no shame in having concerns or difficulties, but with a bit of self love every woman can find pleasure in exercise.