Fill your feed with sports inspiration
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It’s National Girls & Women in Sports Day, which means there’s no time like the present to show female athletes some love—social media love to be precise. Google “female athletes on Instagram” though, and you’ll find a long list of near identical headlines hawking the “sexiest” or “hottest” female athletes on the web. Considering facial symmetry has absolutely no effect on a woman’s ability to perform athletically, we’re going to assume the writers of these lists don’t know how sports work. Or maybe they don’t realize that young girls benefit more from participating in sports than from being told they look pretty doing them. In fact, the benefits are wide-ranging, as the Women’s Sports Foundation reports, “Research demonstrates that girls who play sports have better health, higher self-esteem, stronger leadership skills, greater academic achievement and economic opportunity.”
So, to celebrate women in sports and save you the trouble of wading through sexist nonsense, here’s a list of insanely talented, hardworking, badass female athletes who deserve a follow:
Jessamyn Stanley, Yoga
This is not your average yoga account, if only for the fact that Jessamyn Stanley actually focuses on yoga and not on lifeless product placement. As a self-proclaimed “fat femme,” Stanley proves that you don’t have to have the physique of a string bean to be a fit, fierce yogi. Along with the inspirational pep talks, Stanley also happens to have the most impressive collection of leggings in the history of leggings, bringing her Instagram game to a new level.
Shirley Darlington-Rowat, Parkour
Shirley Darlington-Rowat never considered herself an athletic person, but she pushed forward anyway and found herself falling in love with parkour. As she wrote in a piece for The Guardian, “It quickly changed the way I viewed my environment: everything around me became a potential parkour challenge.” Come to her Instagram for the displays of agility and stay for the pancake pictures.
Misty Copeland, Ballet
As the first African-American principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater, Misty Copeland is no stranger to shattering barriers. In addition to being a prima ballerina, Copeland has authored a book, produced her own documentary, and launched a national discussion about diversity in the dance world.
Abby Wambach, Soccer
As a two-time Olympic gold medalist, FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion, and six-time winner of the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award, Wambach is not only an accomplished athlete, but is also an advocate for the LGBTQ community as well.
Ronda Rousey, Mixed Martial Arts
At just 29 years old, Rousey dominates the mixed martial arts scene as the first UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion and highest ranked female MMA fighter in the world.
Lizzie Armanto, Skateboarding
At just 24 years old, Lizzie Armanto is already a skateboarding legend. She’s won over 30 awards, including both the 2013 and 2014 Van Doren Invitationals in Huntington Beach, and has medaled twice at the X Games.
Serena Williams, Tennis
No roundup (sports or otherwise) would be complete without Serena Williams. She’s not only the reigning champion of all things tennis, but she’s publicly engaged and hilariously active on social media.
Simone Biles, Gymnastics
When she’s not winning Olympic gold medals, 19-year-old Biles is serving as an inspiration to girls everywhere. Just ask her 3.4 million Instagram followers.
Elena Delle Donne, Basketball
After securing the title of the WNBA’s Rookie of the Year in 2013, Elena Delle Donne quickly rose the ranks to become the MVP in 2015. She also runs a foundation to help athletes with disabilities.
Alex Morgan, Soccer
As an Olympic gold medalist, FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion, and outspoken defender of human rights, Alex Morgan is perhaps America’s most beloved female soccer player.
Venus Williams, Tennis
Like her sister, Venus Williams is one of the most well-known tennis champions in the world—male or female—and continues to crush it on the court.