I use this hashtag a lot. #offthepitch. It's so important to me that I even schedule it on my calendar to type it, share it, hell - even pay to boost it on social media. I use it when sharing pics of female players from around the world, when they're not on the pitch/field. I grew up without photos of female soccer players (cause I played in the 70's and 80's) in magazines and not often on the television, so I'm all for more and more coverage of soccer match coverage. But I also want female players of all ages to see our pro athletes out living life, not only playing soccer. On the field they're great role models as inspiration to work hard achieving goals and leading active healthy lives, but outside of the stadium can be inspiring too. Mainstream media and entertainment are flooded with airbrushed images of models and celebrities showing what corporate advertising says you should look like, but what about you athletic ladies whose strong thighs don't leave a gap and girls who don't aspire to walk a runway or be on reality tv? Thigh gaps and runway models are okay for lots of people, but not every girl is attracted to the same thing. We need diversity. Seeing our heroes take a selfie in the park or enjoying the beach with family, provides other visual ideas about external beauty and lifestyles. This is positive reinforcement, to see females you can emulate and look up to. So, these images off the pitch, show the athletes close to how they are in real life. Yes, there's lots of posing that comes along with social media images, but at least they're out there to be seen with many different styles of dress, hair, makeup/no make up, interests, and lifestyles. Women athletes are not an oddity with just extremely good genes and unatainable abilities; they are people who work really hard and have unique lives away from the sport. Some are writers, business owners, mothers, college students, etc.. And, retired players being seen by the younger generation is terrific as well, watching them stay in the game and become professionals in the sport, working behind the scenes, raising families, starting businesses, or going back to school. I realize we're still fighting for more press coverage of women in sports, but it's time to see the full picture of women soccer players, on and off the pitch.
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