HATS off to the AFL, the Australian Football League, for taking a positive stance on body shaming when one of their players, Sarah Perkins – who was labelled as the league’s first cult hero by ABC news – was targeted.

The trolls were out in force, hiding behind their keyboards and commenting on and criticising her appearance. Perkins called them out but not everyone has the strength to do this, and they shouldn’t have to.

It’s great the AFL is not just paying lip service and brushing complaints under the carpet. It has confirmed it will take action and suspend the club or league memberships of any social media troll they can identify who has been found to have abused a player online.

This invisible bullying can be difficult to call out, but it can and this is a good start. Such actions can and do have an impact on the mental health of anyone unfortunate enough to become a target for them.

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The hope now is that other sports, not just in Australia, take the same strong line, that together we can make a change and that those who are in charge of the platforms also take a more stringent view of this type of harassment and bullying.

This action from the AFL came about following consultation with both male and female players in a review. All aspects, including disability, appearance and sexuality and will be covered under the AFL’s vilification rules.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day this week, it is sad to see that women in sport are still being judged on their appearance.

What kind of message is this sending out to the young women who are keen to progress in their own particular sport. Be successful but make a mistake and you will be vilified for all to see on social media.

#Breakthebias is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day and Scottish Women in Sport will celebrate this and help promote all the positive work that is being carried out in the name of sport.

There is no doubt that rules such as those of the AFL, used in sport, helps to change a long-established culture held within our society in general and help change the narrative and perception that women have to fit a certain stereotype in their looks, no matter their sporting or academic achievements.