Alex Morgan talks about her ‘transformational’ relationship with her body as an athlete and a mother

Alex Morgan has become “in tune” with her body as an athlete. (Photo: Getty Images, Design by Quinn Limers)

It’s numbers is a body image series from Yahoo Life that delves into the journeys of influencers and inspirations as they explore what body confidence, body neutrality, and self-love mean to them.

Alex Morgan has dedicated her body to the sport of soccer ever since she took it up as a young girl and eventually became a household name throughout her career. But for the 32-year-old, her goal as an athlete to advocate for gender equality in sport is clearer than ever.

“Being a mother and having fought for gender equality for over six years now publicly against our employer, American football, it gave me a new perspective on just the awesomeness that every woman has in her hands and the ability to create change,” Morgan told Yahoo Live. Before the news that American football agreed to guarantee equal pay. “I’m really proud to be able to stand on this podium and be able to do things for myself, my daughter, for women for the next generation.”

On the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which gave women the opportunity to participate in sports, Morgan celebrates her journey as an athlete. However, she is aware of the ways in which gender inequality persists.

“Being female is very different from being male. And in the field of athletes, males really lead the standard historically because male sports have always been accepted. Men have always been accepted into sports and females have not always been accepted. In many parts of the world, females are still not accepted. in sport “. “So, if you really look at what we’re trying to change in sports, it’s about not seeing male standards as the standard for all females and males. That definitely includes body image, nutrition, needs on and off the field, or in the gym and off. Really accepting a wide range of individual body for every body “.

While there are clear disparities between the treatment of men and women in her sport – most notably the fact that Morgan has long achieved “20 times less than a male athlete equivalent to my status or abilities on the football field” – it also points to a difference in the way athletes need to Males and females take care of their bodies. She remembers plenty of trial and error while figuring out how best to power herself for performance.

“I learned a little bit more when I became a professional athlete exactly what it takes to take care of my body nutritionally. Before I really focused on it. I also gradually became vegan and felt like that was really an important part of my body recovering faster, and being able to function at the optimal rate” . “When I was younger, I did a lot of things where I pushed my body through things that I really shouldn’t have because of the outside pressures I had from coaches or colleagues or the environment I was in as a team environment, and not having that self-confidence to really get myself out of thinking. In that what other people thought of me was more important than what I thought of myself.”

In terms of general body acceptance, Morgan notes the pros and cons of having a variety of body types represented in women’s soccer in particular.

“I’m really lucky because there are all kinds of my teammates who have different bodies than me, and that’s totally fine. Football doesn’t put a certain body type in a box. There’s taller, shorter, you know, no it’s important,” she says. “But it’s also a real challenge because you find yourself comparing, when you can’t really compare.”

Outside of her sport, she has had a hard time feeling that she does not fit the stereotype of an athlete, nor feel that she is in line with general beauty standards. “The thing that is accepted in football as an athletic body, not being really skinny but being skinny, is not accepted outside the sports world. And so while I was growing up, I think there was definitely a difficulty in that acceptance.”

She credits her support system for helping her hero defend those negative beliefs with a constant reminder of the purpose she serves as an athlete.

“If I didn’t have my husband, who I’ve been with now for 15 years, and friends and family in my circle of trust, I think it would have been more difficult than it was for me,” he says. “I’ve been able to rely on them and tap into that self-acceptance that I wouldn’t have had without them telling me over and over again that you shouldn’t be defined as a human by your appearance, the way you play the field but instead by what you stand for, what you believe in, and who you surround yourself with.”

Most importantly, Morgan had to learn to trust herself when it came to her relationship with her body.

“Nobody knows your body like you do. And I think it took a lot of educational experiences to really understand what that means,” she explains. “I feel like often, I’m still learning that and I still have situations where I’m being tested and challenged in defending my body.”

Some of these challenges came from Morgan’s appearance in the 2019 issue of Sports Illustrated Swimwear and the 2021 SKIMS campaign, where her body was shown in a different way than on the field.

“I’m not actually trying to make a statement, I’m actually just trying to do what I love to do which is play football. And then these opportunities are given because of my football playing abilities to be able to be in Sports Illustrated cover, to be able to collaborate with other athletes for a major Olympic sponsor like SKIMS, to be able to join some of the best athletes in other sports for the Super Bowl ad for Michelob Ultra. It’s just incredible opportunities that I don’t take seriously. “I don’t think, ‘Oh, what would people think of me from doing that?'” “I think, ‘Is this fun? Is this what I see myself as comfortable doing in relation to my brand and who I am? Is it authentic to me and to the people or to the brand that I surround myself with?”

Now, her compass for how she treats her body, determines her value as a woman and fights for equality as an athlete is her 2-year-old daughter Charlie. Through pregnancy, childbirth, and raising her young daughter, Morgan gained a new perspective on how she takes care of herself.

“I’ve learned to listen to my body more than ever and accept my body, regardless of the number on the scale or the way I look at myself in the mirror. It was kind of just a transformative human development experience and knowing I wasn’t my priority here, it was My daughter. And I think putting that focus on someone other than myself took into account the perspective I needed in trusting the process.” “And now being a mother and an athlete and competing again at the highest level, I feel like my perspective has changed forever in the way I look at my body. I don’t see it as something that would offend it on the football pitches, just running it on the floor and seeing every last step I can Getting out of it. It’s really like appreciating how amazing my body is and the things I can accomplish with my body. I give it more appreciation than I’ve given it before.”

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