Female wrestling stars 'struggle' with negative remarks about looks
WWE Superstar Charlotte Flair has said that female stars within the male-dominated industry "struggle" the most with the negative comments about their physical appearance.
As one of the frontrunners in a new women's revolution in the WWE, Flair is often sent unfavourable messages via social media because she portrays a "bad guy" character in the ring, and that combining her WWE persona with her real self is the "hardest part" of her job.
Despite the verbal attacks faced by the women in the unique world of scripted sporting entertainment, she hopes to teach young people to "rise above" the hate and show there is more to them as individuals than just physicality and glamorous aesthetics.
The 30-year-old told the Press Association: "Negative comments in terms of body image are the hardest thing the women probably struggle with.
"But I think the best thing that we can do as WWE Superstars is taking that negativity and using it in a positive way, because there are so many young kids on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to not send the message of hate on to.
"(We need to) ignore if someone is saying something bad, and not add fuel to the fire."
She said there is often a misconception around her character because she acts the villain in the spotlight, and that negative remarks do upset her.
Flair said: "I'd say the hardest part is ... no one ever has a chance to get to know the real me because I do play a bad guy, and sometimes it's hard to soak in the comments or the negativity because that's the response you want to illicit.
"I am a normal person, but that's part of the job. I'm playing a character and that's my role."
Flair did not expect to be part of the women's revolution in the wrestling business, which in 2016 saw female competitors finally headline main events and appear in their own pay-per-view matches for the first time in the WWE's nearly 40-year history.
Flair became one of the first female competitors to take part in the prestigious Hell In A Cell pay-per-view event against her rival Sasha Banks, a feat that has been documented in a new documentary short on All 4 entitled Smashing Glass Ceilings: The Women Of WWE.
This change in the WWE, which saw the long-running term Divas go into retirement last April to make way for the WWE Raw Women's Championship, is one that Flair hopes inspires women everywhere.
She said: "This wasn't a journey I thought I'd ever take.
"To know how far I've come as a person and an entertainer and a businesswoman, I just hope I represent independence and intelligence and athleticism, everything that a woman should want to be."
Four-time women's champion Flair said the message of the women's takeover of the WWE does "100% represent" more than just the often dangerous world of sporting entertainment.
"That is a message I hope to send and that I know all the other women hope to send, that no matter what your job is or what you want to achieve in life, anything you set your mind to, you can do," she said.
"The women went from having three-minute matches to now main eventing major pay-per-views, to being the centre stage of a male-dominated industry.
"We hope to send the message to any industry that women are just as central a focus as the men are."
:: Smashing Glass Ceilings: The Women Of WWE is available to watch now on All 4.