The Lionesses are ditching their white shorts in place of new period-inclusive kits. Off the back of their landmark Euros win, England’s national women’s football team are swapping out their white shorts for a more practical navy pair in a huge win for women’s issues in sport.
The England players had voiced their concerns about wearing white on the pitch during that time of the month and, let’s face it, who would want to wear tiny white shorts when Aunt Flo is around? After long-standing discussions with the Football Association, the organisation finally agreed to switch the colour to navy, which still adheres to the colour scheme of the national kit.
The team famously rallied as part of an unofficial campaign to get the uniform changed once and for all. Striker Beth Mead contacted Nike, England’s official kit manufacturer, who recently unveiled their first menstruation base layer products for the upcoming Women’s FIFA World Cup, to discuss the change. “It’s very nice to have an all-white kit, but sometimes it’s not practical when it’s that time of the month,” the 27-year-old Arsenal striker said. “We deal with it [menstruation] as best as we can but we discussed the shorts issue together as a team and fed our views through to Nike.”
The issue of periods impacting women and girls’s involvement in sport is a real one. Some players choose to take the mini-pill, which can stop periods altogether (but doesn’t always), or the combined pill back-to-back with no withdrawal bleed, but others have to manage periods whilst on the pitch. This can prove difficult for those with heavy periods, including women with conditions like endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome. It is also worth noting that not every woman can or wants to take hormonal contraceptives — and that is entirely the woman’s choice alone.
Greater Manchester Moving found that 64 percent of girls aged 16-17 will have quit sport by the age of finishing puberty, while 42 percent of 14-16 year olds say that their period stops them from taking part in physical activity while at school. These shocking statistics yet again highlight the inequality within women’s sport. The success of the Lionesses last summer has undoubtedly put women’s sport on the map, but the team have proved time and time again what role models they are to the younger generation, too. Following the Euros, the team even wrote an open letter to the government to demand equal access to PE in schools.
This move forward for the Lionesses kit follows the change to the Wimbledon dress code in 2022. The all-white dress code of the Wimbldedon tennis championships had been around since the Victorian era, yet it disproportionally affected women athletes during their menstrual-cycle. The organisers changed this rule last summer to allow female competitors to wear mid- to dark-coloured undershorts, provided they’re no longer than the player’s shorts or skirt.
The Lionesses will be debuting their new kits at Wembley Stadium on 6 April in the first women’s Finalissima against Brazil. The kit change takes the sport a step closer towards a more inclusive environment. See the new Lionesses kit below.
Image Source: Nike