Lioness Alex Greenwood Wishes Fans Wouldn’t Focus on Looks: “We’re There to Play Football”

Getty / Harriet Lander - The FA

There’s no denying that the Lionesses changed history with their historic UEFA Women’s Euros win in 2022. Their hard work, sweat, and tears meant that the team defeated Germany at Wembley Stadium and inspired a new generation of footballers-in-training.

But despite England’s national women’s team breaking down barriers for women’s football, as well as beating TV records, the players sadly still find much of the focus is on their appearance over their skills. “I know for a fact now if I scroll through my tweets or DMs, there will always, always, without a doubt be someone who has something to say about the eyelashes that I wear, or the fact that, apparently, I wear makeup for every game,” Alex Greenwood tells POPSUGAR. “Someone always has something to say about how you look.”

“Someone always has something to say about how you look.”

A simple scroll on social media and it’s clear to see the kind of trolling the team has been subjected to. Greenwood, who was part of the Euros-winning squad and is heading to Australia and New Zealand for the FIFA Women’s World Cup this July, is often the subject of cruel tweets centred around the player’s choice to wear, or not wear, makeup on the pitch. “What the hell was @AlexGreenwood doing in a football pitch with false eyelashes and looking like she was off to Ibiza. If you want to be taken seriously @Lionesses then have some discipline #longwaytogo.” one tweet read. Another sarcastic comment says: “Must remember to do my makeup and put my false eyelashes if I play for England”.

Despite such derogatary remarks, Greenwood’s success has ultimately led her to have the last laugh. “I think the biggest thing for women is to judge us on what we’re there to do, and that’s to play football,” Greenwood says. “So what if someone wants to wear their hair a certain way or eyelashes a certain way? If someone dyes their hair in the men’s game, that’s what they want to do, it’s not a problem.”

Through the Manchester City star’s campaigning for equal opportunities for girls in sport – which has led her to launch her own academy in Manchester, AG5 Academy – the footballer feels strongly about allowing other young people the same experience that she was afforded growing up. “I think boys have almost every opportunity to compete in sport in schools. I don’t necessarily think that’s the same for girls,” she says. “But we’ve done so much hard work for the Lionesses, and with the government, we finally got that changed.” The team wrote an open letter to the government to push for equal PE access in schools, with new standards for a more even playing field announced in March 2023 on the back of it. She is also working with young people’s debit card company, GoHenry, to push for greater financial education in schools and equal opportunities in sport.

Image Source: GoHenry

The Lionesses’ push against outdated rules also brought in a change for their team’s football kit to be more period-inclusive; an issue which sees an alarming 64 percent of girls aged 16-17 quitting 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, as per Greater Manchester Moving.

As for Greenwood, she’s already become a role model for so many, and the “thousands” of Instagram DMs she receives on a daily basis from young girls who look up to her, proves it. “Those moments for me are just as important as winning trophies and being successful on a personal level, because I’ve helped inspire someone to believe they can achieve something.” To her, these messages mean more than the influx of fellow England players reaching out to congratulate her. “To be honest with you, them things don’t really bother me,” she says of her new-found fame. “It’s more when you get messages from the young kids and the young girls who message to say, ‘you’ve just changed my life’, or, ‘you’ve just made me want to play football.’ I’d rather see them messages than the other ones, to be truthfully honest.”

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