Insight Sport: Female sports stars talk about victims of abuse, fat shame and disordered eating

Eleven celebrities in Australian women’s sports have boldly spoken out about the incredible toll that messy eating, shame, online trolls and reverse coaching trends have taken on their lives.

Some of them escaped tragic outcomes, while others overcame horrific health trials, and they came together in the first issue of News Corp. UNDERSTANDING share your experiences in the hope of helping others who may be suffering and inspire the next generation of sports talent.

Rugby sevens phenomenon Teagan Levy talks about the horrific abuse that led her down a dangerous path to health.

“Once I was just driving in a car, and they called me without identifying the number. It was these girls who told me that my physique was abnormal, that I was fat, ugly and looked like a man, ”she said. UNDERSTANDING.


“Jealousy is a curse and obviously there was something going on in their lives that they had to put down other people.”

Paralympic hero Ellie Cole recalls the looks and stares she received from others as she walked down the street with her “robot leg”.

Although she was proud of her disability, it was what happened after joining the AIS that triggered Cole’s downfall.

“The first week I got there (AIS), I had about 117 skin folds. Our nutritionist said it should be below 100.

“I started skipping meals completely and my health really started to suffer, but because I was losing weight, I continued to struggle. Before I knew it, I had developed a mild eating disorder.”

According to Alicia Edge, who works with the growing female talent of Matildas and Football Australia, disordered eating is rampant in women’s sports.

Skinfold tests, she says, are useless for athletes and only exacerbate the problem of calorie counting and weight obsession.

While football’s messy eating culture isn’t perfect, Edge talks about how bad it is and the work she and others are doing to combat it.

“I was really shocked by the state of football – and it’s not just Matildas – the way it was. He had a really big body image and erratic eating behavior.

“The more I talk to coaches and support staff, the more important it is to work with their food and body assumptions because if we’re going to change the culture, we need to change the environment they’re in.”

Also featured in the first edition of INSIGHT SPORT:

Guest editor Libby Trickett shares her experience of the Shame Spiral and performing skinfold tests on the pool deck in front of everyone. The messy eating she faced and why things need to change across the board.

The work that needs to be done to end the bullying of athletes and create a safe space for everyone.

AFLW star Sarah Perkins and the embarrassing insult she received while mourning her father’s death.

Suns AFLW star Ellie Hampson and a deadly combination of thinness = success.

Swimming star Lani Pallister and her mom discuss the realities of living with an eating disorder and how, as a mom, she missed some telltale signs.

Boxing sensation Kate McLaren on her past life in the fashion world and the need to be slim.

How the discovery of boxing was both a blessing and a curse, as the start of birth control pills led to a “phantom pregnancy” and almost destroyed it.

Firebirds captain Kim Ravallion discusses her muscular appearance and the rejection that made her fall in love with strength training.

And cricket legend Sarah Coit on what battling anorexia did to her in her twenties and how she fought back.

All of their incredible stories will be featured from February 15, 2023 on

Originally published as Insight Sport: Female sports stars talk about victims of abuse, fat shame and disordered eating