Despite the encouraging strides we've made in recent years when it comes to body positivity and skin acceptance, research shows that we still have a lot of work to do. Case in point: According to findings from Venus' Skin-Consciousness Study, more than one-third of women say they don't want to participate in sport because they're worried about the way their skin looks*. A third of women also reported not feeling confident in their own skin*.
The renowned razor brand surveyed a whopping 2,000 women aged 18 to 45 in the UK and released their findings last summer — along with their #MoveYourSkin campaign, which specifically aims to tackle skin-consciousness by raising awareness and normalising what real skin in sport looks like, rolls, bumps, scars, stretch marks, hairs, and all.
Hearing how women athletes have tackled their own skin insecurities and found confidence — both on and off the field — can be a powerful way to combat the idea that there's such a thing as "perfect" skin. One such athlete is football champion Taylor Hinds, who helped lead her team to victory at the FA Women's Championship last season. Over the years, Hinds has grappled with skin-consciousness, so she understands firsthand how it can impact one's mindset when playing sport and otherwise. With that said, she's learned to love and accept herself exactly the way she is, which is why she's so proud to be part of Venus' campaign to help empower other women and girls to do the same.
Making Her Mark
Taking after her older brother, Hinds began playing football on a boy's team when she was just seven years old, and her love for the sport grew exponentially from there. "When you're younger you always end up copying your siblings and I did just that!" she says. "We ended up playing for the same team and my dad was also my manager, so it was more of a family thing."
On top of football, Hinds also danced outside of school, though over time it became difficult to manage doing both on a competitive level. "I had to make a choice and I think I knew deep down it was always going to be football," she muses. As a girl playing on a boy's team, Hinds would sometimes receive negative comments about her gender, but she didn't let it get in the way of her game. "I just let my football do the talking!"
Since then, Hinds has worked her way up the football ladder, proving herself time and time again as a powerhouse on the field. In January 2022, the defender signed a long-term contract with the Liverpool Reds and helped them claim the championship title later that year. As a result, her confidence in being a role model has soared. "I think it's amazing that I'm a role model, especially for the younger generation, being female and diverse, showing that anyone can play football or sport in general," she says. "I remember back in the day when I used to look up to players like Rachel Yankey, and now I'm that person that younger boys and girls look up to and it's a great feeling."
Despite dealing with some spots and marks as a teen, Hinds says she didn't let the state of her skin affect her too much back then. "I think when I was younger, I wasn't too fazed because it was a 'teenage thing,' so I was less aware when growing up," she explains. However, that's changed a bit since becoming a public figure. "Being more of a role model and in the picture of Liverpool and women's football in general, I do have insecurities that my skin needs to be flawless and smooth 'because everyone will see me,'" she says.
This sentiment goes hand in hand with Venus' research, which also found that almost half of the women surveyed worry others will comment on their imperfections if they play sport in public. "A year ago I went through a stage where I was getting lighter skin colour patches around my forehead and it knocked my confidence massively, as it was something I'd never experienced before so I was trying to cover them up because I didn't feel like me," she recalls. "I felt rubbish when looking at myself in the mirror and didn't want to go out, but then one of my friends reminded me that it doesn't matter what you look like — no one really cares."
That was a major lightbulb moment for Hinds, as she realized that she was the only one who actually noticed or cared at the end of the day. She now focuses on being kinder to herself and her skin, relying on a staple routine to care for it the best that she can. Hinds slathers on lotion or cocoa butter morning and night to keep her skin soft and supple. And even when she's not feeling confident about her skin, Hinds remains focused on what she can control: her football game.
At 24 years old, Hinds is feeling more confident than ever — both in her football game, and in her own skin. Still, having struggled with her own insecurities, she's passionate about building others up and normalising real skin, especially in the athletic world. "It's OK if your skin is different than someone else's; forget what people say or think because no one else's opinion matters," she says. "If you love doing something then do it because it makes you happy. It's the world we live in for people to have opinions, but you have to believe in yourself and remember you could be that one person that makes a difference to the next person wanting to participate in sport."
This aligns perfectly with Venus' "Move Your Skin" campaign, which encourages women to celebrate moving in their bodies — bumps, spots, scars, and all — despite the narrative society's written for us. The brand believes in championing women's bodies for all of the amazing things they can do, not for what they look like, and hopes to spark positive change when it comes to showcasing what real skin in sport looks like. That's exactly why they're working with athletes like Hinds, who shares the mission of wanting women to feel confident in their own skin, both on and off the pitch.
No surprise here, Hinds has some stellar advice for women in sport who're struggling with skin insecurities: "Skin is skin — everyone is different in their own way and that is absolutely fine," she says. "Everyone is unique [and] no one is perfect. Don't be afraid to own it!"
Design: Mia Coleman