How Fighting for Inclusivity in Sport Helped Build My Confidence

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‘I was born in Sudan and my family moved to Bradford, West Yorkshire, when I was a year old. Growing up, I felt my identity was split in two and wherever I went, I struggled to fit in. Very few women on TV or in magazines looked like me so I didn’t find a relatable role model to look up to. My dreams of becoming an athlete felt far out of reach.’

 

 

Dear Readers,

 

Please find below an article that was published in Womens Health. Asma al Bedawi has successfully campaigned on Eating Disorders in Muslim world, Asma Elbadawi, a poet, activist and basketball player, spoke to The New Arab about her struggle with an eating disorder, which started in her early twenties and was triggered by stress. The article below highlights her strengths, her courage and her willingness to make change happen. She gives hope that we can all dream big and dreams do come true.  The article below also highlights self-care and our personal wellbeing. We hope you’ll enjoy the article below.

 

 

How Fighting for Inclusivity in Sport Helped Build My

Confidence

 

 

Basketballer Asma Elbadawi shares how she found courage in her individuality

Rising star Asma Elbadawi has become an influential voice in the world of sport, taking the challenges she’s faced as a female Muslim basketball player and turning them into worldwide triumphs. She successfully overturned the International Basketball Federation’s ban on religious headgear in professional basketball, using her influence to shatter glass ceilings and fight for female empowerment.

Away from the court, Asma’s powerfully written poems are making an impact, too. Belongings, her debut poetry collection, casts a spotlight on inclusivity and identity as she writes candidly about her experience as a Sudanese-British woman, as well as her passion for sport.

Here, the basketball-playing poet shares her journey to self-confidence and how she learned to embrace what makes her unique.

Trying to be what you can’t see

‘I was born in Sudan and my family moved to Bradford, West Yorkshire, when I was a year old. Growing up, I felt my identity was split in two and wherever I went, I struggled to fit in. Very few women on TV or in magazines looked like me so I didn’t find a relatable role model to look up to. My dreams of becoming an athlete felt far out of reach.’

‘I’d always played sports as a kid, but feared other people’s reactions to my hopes of playing professionally. Many Muslim men see sport simply as a leisure activity. But I knew basketball was vital to my happiness, so I was determined to take part and hone my skills despite the judgement. My persistence paid off.’

Becoming bold at my ballgame

‘The basketball court challenges different sides of me. I need to stay focused, in control. I can’t be emotional or overthink. The idea of dropping the ball or missing a shot is scary, but I’ve learned to manage the pressure. I now take those learnings into my everyday life, turning a blind eye to negative opinions and appreciating my body for all that it can do.’

Finding my voice through poetry

‘I started writing poems to make sense of the world. My dual cultural heritage sparked an inner creativity and, despite being dyslexic, it’s empowering to find words that release my emotions. I can turn them into something tangible. Using poetry as a form of self-expression helped me find confidence in staying true to myself, my cultures, my religion and my passion for sport all at once.’

 

Owning my body-hair choices

‘My journey with body hair has been key to my identity. Hair removal is part of an Islamic focus on purity and cleanliness and as Muslims we’re encouraged to remove the hair on certain parts of our bodies at least every 40 days. That feeling of silky smooth skin gives me a little boost and even though most people never see my legs, I do it just for me.

 

‘Ritualistic hair removal may sound like a headache, but it’s now a cherished part of my self-care routine. I’ve discovered smart ways to make going hair-free a breeze and the Philips Lumea means my legs stay smoother for longer without having to shave every day. No pain and no regrowth for up to six months. It’s a win-win.’

 

Challenging inequalities

‘I choose to cover my body as part of my faith and the hijab is a symbol of my spirituality. I’ve faced challenges and criticism because I wear it, whether I’m playing basketball or reading poetry, but it’s not something I’m willing to compromise on. Why should a head covering stop me from achieving my goals? This is what makes me me.

‘It’s so important to break stereotypes and bring down the boundaries that hold women back. Perhaps there’s a young girl out there who needs to see a Muslim woman making a career in sport and owning her self-confidence, just like I did as a child. Here’s hoping she’ll read this and realise that her individuality can be a game-changer, too.’

My self-care must-haves

Project Body Love: Women’s Health and Philips are joining forces to change the way women think, feel and speak about their bodies. Together, we commit to shifting the dial on body confidence, encouraging a positive mindset and putting an end to negative self-talk and embarrassment.

Do body hair your way with the Philips Lumea, available at philips.co.uk

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About Author

Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.

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