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Body Image and Self Advocacy Discourse and Guide: What Women in Football/Soccer Want You to Know

When I first met professional soccer player Paige Culver back in February of 2021, I was shocked that a professional soccer player, playing at the highest level, who’s won so many accolades and even made history, eats Ben and Jerry’s ice cream…

Besides sharing our love for a good ole pint of Ben and Jerry’s every once in a while, Paige and I connected on our experiences of battling with body image and self advocacy issues. We both became aware of our body image issues in our early teens. My body image issues made me quit soccer as I felt that I didn’t “look like the ideal soccer player”. Although Paige faced similar issues, Paige went after her dream of playing professionally and went on to play collegiately at the Division 1 school, Kent State. While at Kent State, Paige made Kent State history and gathered some accolades along the way too. Paige went on to play professionally for clubs in France and Italy and now plays for a club in Sweden.

When we were talking about our issues with body image, we wondered why is this such a prominent issue? How can we stop young women from feeling like they don’t belong in soccer or in sports because of the way that they look? How can we show them that soccer welcomes all shapes and sizes? How can we help them stand up for themselves? How can women be their own best advocate?

Paige and I have spent over a year and a half working together on collecting stories from coaches, women who’ve played collegiately, and professional players. We’ve asked these women about their favorite meal, what their relationship with food looks like, how soccer/football impacts their self perception, when they started experiencing body image issues, if they have been scrutinized for what they ate, do they support “What I Eat in a Day” videos, and so much more.

We are pleased to share with you these powerful stories from strong women.

So wandering eyes and listening ears, this is a discourse on body image and self advocacy…


Body Image Discourse: Paige Culver's Story

Professional soccer player, Paige Culver, kicks off our body image discourse series. In this introduction video, Paige shares why it’s important to talk about body image and body shaming in women’s soccer/football and sports overall. Paige also explains how we can equip the next generation of athletes and members of the women’s soccer/football community to be their own best advocate and love the body that they have.

To follow Paige Culver’s professional journey, give her a follow at:

You can watch her first HUFC interview here.


Body Image Discourse: Lauren Prott's Story

Professional soccer player and coach, Lauren Prott has had an impeccable career in football so far. She’s played in amazing places such as Australia, Albania, Norway, Czech Republic, and Sweden. From dodging earthquakes to walking out to the Champions League theme song, Lauren Prott has seen it all.

In this discourse, we ask Lauren if soccer has impacted her self perception positively or negatively and her favorite meal to eat. We also learn of the abuse Lauren endured from her coach in college, and how she’s preparing the next generation of professional players to be their best advocates.

Since recording this discourse, Lauren has co-founded Soccer Mastery and Resilience Training also known as SMART, which is Oregon’s only female led soccer academy.

Please go support Lauren and SMART via the links below!!

Watch Lauren's original interview here.


Body Image Discourse: Adyson Willett's Story

Adyson Willett is a professional soccer player who currently plays for the Mexican club, Xolos Femenil. Prior to joining Xolos, the California native played for Serbia’s ZFK Masinac Trace and spent 10 months playing in Spain where she helped her club not only win their league but also helped them make it to the semi-finals of the Andalusian Cup! Outside of soccer, Adyson runs the insightful blog, Authentically Ady, where she shares advice about travel, learning new languages, and health.

In this discourse, Ady recalls that her earliest memories of body image issues date back to preschool. Ady also shares with us the most toxic aspects of being a female professional athlete, the scrutiny she's faced surrounding what she ate and her diet choices, as well as her honest opinion on “What I Eat in a Day” videos.

To follow Ady’s professional journey, please follow her at:

Don’t forget to read and support her blog too!:


Body Image Discourse: Jourdan Ziff's Story

Jourdan Ziff is a professional soccer player who plays for La Liga Puerto Rico’s Puerto Rico Sol FC. While at Sol, Jourdan and her team went on to win the La Liga Puerto Rico championship and has been named “Player of the Match” twice. Prior to joining Sol, Jourdan played professionally for the Finnish club, NJS, and during her collegiate experience, she won two “Patriot League Rookie of the Week” awards. Off the field, Jourdan is an advocate for helping individuals learn how to properly fuel their bodies and maintain a healthy relationship with food, especially in the context of women’s football.

During this discourse, Jourdan opens up about the time she started to realize she was facing body image issues, why there shouldn’t be a universal standard surrounding what a female soccer player should look like, and how we all can be our own best advocates.

To follow Jourdan’s professional soccer journey, give her a follow at:


Body Image Discourse: Yaneash Donaldson's Story

Trigger Warning (TW): The following body image discourse discusses eating disorders/disordered eating. Viewer discretion is advised.

Yaneash Donaldson is a former collegiate soccer star turned youth soccer coach and educator. Before becoming a soccer coach and educator, Yaneash played collegiately at Florida International University and Clemson University where she was a Division 1 athlete. As a soccer coach, she’s licensed by the US Soccer Federation and United Soccer Coaches. One of her proudest accomplishments to date is that she’s the founder and director of SOUL & SOLE, an organization that enhances the lives of students through soccer training, academic tutoring and assistance with the college recruitment process. SOUL & SOLE hosts camps and clinics not only in Florida and Colorado but also in Jamaica!

In Yaneash’s discourse, Yaneash talks about the culture around food in college, seeing teammates falling victim to eating disorders/disordered eating, how we all should embrace our unique differences, and the changes that need to take place in the football/soccer community so everyone feels like they belong.

To learn more about SOUL & SOLE, go give them a follow!:


Body Image Discourse: Haley Lukas

Haley Lukas is a former professional soccer player who now serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Female Footballers, which is a nonprofit that helps young women focus on the mental aspect of sports. During her professional career, Haley played all across Europe in countries like France, Poland, Serbia and Hungary. Just to name a few of her career highlights: in Poland she helped her team win the Polish Cup Championship; in Serbia, she played against Atletico de Madrid in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

During this discourse, Haley talks about what the transition was like from playing at the high school level to playing collegiately at one of the best schools in the nation, her favorite meal to eat, and the advice she gives her mentors and mentees.

To follow Haley’s journey, please follow her here:

Catch Haley’s discourse on accessibility:

To learn more about Female Footballers:


Body Image Discourse: Nina Stapelfeldt

“It’s not right to treat us in a certain way…all those comments are wrong…” says professional football player, Nina Stapelfeldt.

Nina, Paige’s former teammate, has a lot to say when it comes to the treatment of female professional footballers as she has dealt with an uncanny amount of invalidation, criticism, and body shaming.

In her body image discourse, Nina opens up about her first time dealing with body shaming, why she’s vegan, her favorite meal to eat, and how she’s built a better relationship with her body.

To follow Nina’s journey, you can follow her at:


Body Image Discourse: Arianna Criscione

For our last body image discourse for a while, we were lucky to be joined by the recently retired professional goalkeeper, Arianna Criscione. Before retiring, Arianna played for Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and while there, she not only drafted her contract but she also worked for PSG on sponsorship and women’s business development endeavors. Prior to PSG, Arianna played professionally in the Netherlands, Italy, Norway and France and has earned a master’s in football business from The Football Business Academy. Now, Arianna is pursuing a diploma in club management from FIFA and serves as the women’s football director at the sports agency, Next Sports.

In this discourse, Arianna talks about her upbringing, the flak she received for eating certain foods, and the cultural norms and expectations surrounding food in the different countries she played in.

To follow Arianna’s journey, give her a follow here:


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