Happy #WomanCrushWednesday, collegiettes! We have a new woman crush — actually, a whole team of them.
Photos of the female Harvard rugby team from their Tumblr, Rugged Grace, have been cropping up everywhere on the Web recently. Why? Well, for once, the women haven’t been Photoshopped down to their gym socks or attacked with a team of hairstylists and makeup artists just for the sake of a photo shoot.
Instead, the team members are dressed in plain gray sports bras and spandex and are covered in inspirational messages written in black Sharpie. These literal body comments are both long (“You inspire us to work harder and be better every day”) and short (“fearless,” “Captain Cool,” “#Quad Lyfe”).
According to Shelby Lin, a member of the team who recently graduated, each message portrays what the other women consider to be that specific player’s best qualities.
“We simply asked our teammates to write what they loved about each other, and refrained from giving much direction or expectations. From that there was an outpouring of appreciation about each other’s bodies, attitudes and characters,” Lin said. “I didn’t expect the process to be so emotional, but after each day I felt full of pride for the women involved and how much we respect both ourselves and each other.”
The pictures were taken this May at the Kundalini Yoga Boston studio. The rugby team also wrote an opinion piece for the Harvard Political Review called “An Exercise in Body Image” to accompany their photo essay.
“The photo essay… is a testament to the power that a sport like rugby has. It demonstrates that there is the potential out there for women to be proud of their bodies, no matter what,” wrote the article’s authors, Brooke Kantor, Helen Clark and Lydia Federico. “Although it is extremely difficult to maintain a constant state of positive self-image in our culture, every time a woman celebrates the beauty of her own body or of another woman she is making a political statement. She is saying that she refuses to accept the messages spread by mainstream culture, and she is refusing to accept that her body is only valuable as a visual object.”
Clark later told The Huffington Post that the team has created a culture that appreciates every shape.
"We are hoping that people will be inspired by the photographs to celebrate their own strength and to recognize the beauty of the women in their lives," she said.
So next time you’re feeling a little insecure, grab a piece of a paper — or find a body part. Write down what you love about you. Because thanks to these women, next week’s #WCW will be ourselves.