Emma Hayes says there is a “problem in the game” with body shaming and praised Chelsea forward Fran Kirby for speaking out on the issue.
In Chelsea’s A Comeback: Nothing Stops Us Documentary detailing Kirby’s rehabilitation from knee surgery, the England international said it “has become more noticeable that people are getting comments about their weight” and how there was a “fear” of carbohydrates in the women’s game due to possible weight gain.
In one clip, Kirby is asked why she is wearing a jacket over her training kit and responds by saying: “Because I get called fat all the time, so I have to cover it up.”
Chelsea boss Hayes believes body shaming exists across sport with a lack of education around nutrition and the issue itself to blame.
“It was an important message Fran put across,” said Hayes. “I know I said during the World Cup why I do not believe in the women’s game we should have weigh-ins or body composition tests.
“The media needs to be mindful of the insecurities that might be there. Body shaming is a real thing and the players feel it.
“I was proud of Fran for saying that because as women we’re judged enough to look a certain way. But in order to perform at the level that you need to, you need to eat carbs as well as a healthy diet and, unfortunately, there is a problem in the game.
“I’m not going to just limit it to the women’s game, there is a problem in sport with underfueling and underloading. That comes with the constant demands to look a certain way. Unfortunately, a vitriolic environment that comes from social media.
“Fran has certainly fell victim to that as other players have as well. I always urge everybody to be mindful of that because we’re destroying people in many ways. I’m really glad that Fran said out loud what so many female players do not say enough.
“My thing is I always just want to try and educate, so I’ll always say to someone, ‘Please can you not take a photo like that’ or ‘Please can you consider that the athlete won’t like that’ or ‘please can you just make sure you take a headshot? I don’t want you to do a zoom-out with that’.
“I think educating people around it is important because maybe photographers are not always conscious of it, or they might take a shot of something thinking well, ‘No one’s ever said that to me because I’ve only captured male footballers before’ but I do think that they have to think about it and I’m only talking about things that all female players do discuss in the background. I feel the same way they do.”