Following a week of coverage of models of all shapes and sizes on the runway at Australian Fashion Week, Demi Hayes, Charlotte Caslick and Madison Ashby posed for an exclusive shoot on the cover of this week’s Body+Soul to celebrate the inroads our top athletes have made in redefining typical femininity. Olympian and Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens captain Hayes says she wants to show that women – and athletes in particular – can be “tough, strong and fit, and also extremely feminine.“When I see a negative comment about my body, I look at how strong and fit and beautiful my teammates are and don’t understand why our bodies would be criticised,” she says, adding that with her current routine of running and weights, her body “is so much fitter, moretoned and muscly than it’s ever been”.In recent years, the most coveted body shapes in popular culture have moved away from models on fashion catwalks towards fitness trainers on apps and in gyms, broadening the definition of beauty to be more inclusive of different body types and sizes. But the women’s rugby sevens are taking it one step further.“Our team is challenging these stereotypes,” Caslick says, “and showing that we’re all diff erent shapes and sizes and everyone is just as beautiful, fit and feminine as each other.”Selina Steele, women’s sport editor at News Corp Australia, recalls having a conversation about the “strong is the new feminine” approach with the players after they returned from the Tokyo Olympics. “I think one of the final frontiers for body positivity is women being embraced for their athleticism and strength,” Steele says. “There’s beauty in power. “Athletes are redefining society’s image of what it means to be feminine, and shifting the paradigm. A fit, athletic body does wonders for self-confidence and poise, [and] fashion always starts with being comfortable in your own skin.”This shift from looking good to doing good is significant, says psychologist Sarah McMahon, director of the NSW body-image clinic BodyMatters Australasia. “The quintessential difference in sportswomen is that their body doesn’t exist merely to look good,” said McMahon. “We’re seeing bodies as capable more than simply being looked at.”Read the full article at bodyandsoul.com.au.