Fran Kirby features in Chelsea’s new documentary called ‘Nothing Stops Us’ which explores the research into new technology for female athletes. In one clip, Kirby was asked how she was wearing a jumper and responded by saying: ‘Because I get called fat all the time, so I have to cover it up.’
The forward went on to talk about how nutrition was a key part of her recovery from a serious knee injury but explained that there is a ‘fear’ of carbohydrates in the women’s game due to possible weight gain.
Hayes has been vocal on the pressures that female players face to ‘look good’ and has long argued that a lack of education around nutrition can lead to eating disorders.
‘I’ve spoken a lot about why I do not believe in the women’s game that we should have weigh-ins-or you should have body composition tests.
‘Body shaming is a real thing. The players feel it and I was proud of Fran Kirby 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 and, unfortunately, a vitriolic environment that comes from social media.
‘Fran Kirby certainly fell victim to that as other players have as well. So again I always urge everybody to be mindful of that because we’re destroying people in many ways and I’m really glad that Fran said out loud what so many female players do not say enough.’
Asked whether she herself has felt pressure when it comes to body image, Hayes replied: ‘Sometimes people are not kind, but I guess you have to have a thick skin in my job.
‘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’s 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. But I’m a bit older and I’m in menopause, I’ve got my own challenges.’