Swim England tells women how to hide “flabby stomachs” – Twitter reacts accordingly

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Susan Devaney
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Swim England has issued an apology after giving online advice on how women could look slimmer in the pool. 

For some women getting in a swimming pool can be a daunting experience. In short: slipping on a swimming costume can bring with it a whole host of fears and anxieties – but it shouldn’t.

Which is why a web page written by Swim England (and published in 2010) has been heavily criticised online for focusing too much on the shape of women’s bodies.

In the article, the national sports body suggested women with a “jiggly belly” should avoid wearing bikinis, and said being pear-shaped has “often been the plague of women”.

“Ensuring you have the right swimwear for body shape is vital. It’s important to be honest with yourself or the person you are buying for. It can make a world of difference,” the guidance noted.

The article continued to suggest how women could “accentuate curves” or hide a“boyish body”.

The web page has since been taken down thanks to Simone Webb, a PhD student in gender studies, who came across the guide will searching for a swimsuit in an attempt to take up swimming again. 

“This is material that @Swim_England is publishing on their website designed to encourage people to take up and enjoy swimming. Material which very explicitly tells women that their bodies ought to look a certain way and that that’s the primary aim of a swimming costume,” Webb tweeted. 

She continued: “@Swim_England apparently think that a ‘boyish body’ needs to be feminized, that fat women must minimise their bodies, that women wanting to take up swimming should be concerned with their bodily appearance rather than the enjoyment of their sport.”

Swim England has since taken to Twitter to issue an apology.

“We pride ourselves on being inclusive and respectful to all. Earlier today it was brought to our attention that one of our old webpages was neither. This does not reflect our values and we took it down immediately. 

“Thanks to everyone who brought this to our attention. #Sorry,” the national sports body posted. 

But women have shared how such material has deterred them from entering the swimming pool in the past, and how it puts girls off trying the sport.    

Images: Unsplash


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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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