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Sport, fitness, and physical movement are all ways to feel empowered. They teach you how to leverage your body to accomplish something you may have once thought impossible — whether it’s running a half-marathon (or even just running around the block during a summer heat wave), setting a new deadlift PR, or relishing in a “W” on your team’s record. And, as ESPN The Magazine’s recent Body Issue shows us, athletes come in all shapes, and strength — in every size — is worthy of celebration.
The Harvard Women’s Rugby team is on a mission to share their message of positive body image. They’ve published a photo project that celebrates everything they love about their teammates and about rugby: “The sport necessitates a strength that we find beautiful and powerful,” the team's Tumblr, Rugged Grace, says. The images explore “what sport and community mean for...bodies and identities.”
"There is a wonderful transformation during the season, as recruits come to realize that being strong and muscular makes someone more beautiful, not less; that routinely tackling other women into the ground on the weekends not only doesn’t compromise femininity, it increases self-confidence and assertiveness; and that women really can do something that almost everything and everyone says we can’t do," says Amy Perfors on Rugged Grace.
Team members also penned a kick-ass essay on Harvard Political Review, stating that “where society appreciates the meek timidity that is supposed to accompany female beauty, rugby encourages women to be a dominating presence — fearless in pursuit of her goals... There is the potential out there for women to be proud of their bodies, no matter what.”
At R29 Wellness, we celebrate strength and think muscles are gorgeous. We understand that fitness isn’t just how we sweat; it’s a freedom to explore the world, a source of resilience, and a means of self-expression through movement and athletic style. It’s an outlet for feeling good and loving your body — and the Harvard women's rugby team is a perfect example. Click through to see a few of our favorite photos, and then head over to Rugged Grace for more.