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Samantha Tarkowski and Catherine Harding open up on the struggles with body image while dating a footballer… as Everton star’s wife breaks down while revealing desire to be an ’empowered woman’ for her daughter


Samantha Tarkowski and Catherine Harding have opened up on the struggles of dealing with what they believe people think a footballer’s wife should look like.

The pair are two of the stars of Prime Video’s new series Married To The Game, which follows the lives of five football WAGS, aiming to give an insight into the reality of dating a top-level footballer.

Tarkowski recently married Everton defender James, while Harding became engaged to Arsenal‘s Jorginho in December, with the 33-yar-old teasing her partner about potentially popping the question in the early episodes of the show.

The series details various journeys of the women and their husbands, with body imagine a huge topic of discussion, leading to a variety of emotions on display, particularly from Tarkowski and Harding when they can be seen talking about their daughters.

In episode two of the series, Tarkowski can be seen getting emotional in a gym when discussing her desire to help her daughter feel empowered by a strong mother.

Samantha Tarkowski has discussed her struggles with body image expectation while dating a footballer

Caherine Harding also opened up on he pressure she puts on herself to 'try and look good'

Samantha Tarkowski (left) and Catherine Harding (right) have discussed their struggles with body image expectation while dating a footballer

Tarkowski married Everton defender James (left) last year, having started dating in 2015

Tarkowski married Everton defender James (left) last year, having started dating in 2015

Harding, meanwhile, is engaged to Arsenal midfielder Jorginho after the Italian popped the question in December

Harding, meanwhile, is engaged to Arsenal midfielder Jorginho after the Italian popped the question in December

‘Everyone seems to think a footballer has to be with a very stereotypical, super skinny, really glamorous, gorgeous woman, whereas actually he’s just my husband, he’s just James to me,’ Tarkowski says on episode two of the six-part documentary series. ‘I don’t think of him as a footballer at all. 

‘You’re constantly fighting against people that want to bring you down, it’s hard work, and social media plays a huge part in that.

‘It’s so dangerous and being a mother of a daughter, that makes me feel… I want to keep her away from that as much as possible. I want to make her feel empowered, and that was actually- I’m getting emotional, sorry, I don’t know why I’m crying. 

‘When I had Ivy, I wanted even more to be this empowered woman to show her that that’s so important. I can’t speak, I’m sorry.

‘It’s so important to be a strong woman, to know that actually the way you look is so minor compared to who you are and I think having a daughter changed everything.’

Tarkowski broke down in a gym while discussing her will to help her daughter 'feel empowered'

Tarkowski broke down in a gym while discussing her will to help her daughter ‘feel empowered’

The defender's long-term partner admitted that social media 'plays a huge part' in 'fighting against people that want to bring you down'

The defender’s long-term partner admitted that social media ‘plays a huge part’ in ‘fighting against people that want to bring you down’

She claimed 'it's so important to be a strong woman' as she started crying after working out

She claimed ‘it’s so important to be a strong woman’ as she started crying after working out

Footballer James reassured Samantha, with the pair starring in Amazon's new series 'Married To The Game'

Footballer James reassured Samantha, with the pair starring in Amazon’s new series ‘Married To The Game’

Husband James, who has made 71 appearances for Everton after joining from Burnley – where he had spent over six years – in 2022, chimed in to back up his partner.

The pair married in mid-2023 having been together since 2015, with Samantha following her partner from Brentford, to Burnley, and then Everton.

‘I don’t think Sam realises how amazing she is both physically and internally,’ he can be seen saying in a scene away from the gym, Samantha by his side. ‘I think she’s opened her eyes a bit more to it over the years but I think initially when we first met she had no self love or self worth but over time she’s realising more and more. 

‘I’d like to think people’s perception of me isn’t a thing to me, but it is,’ Sam says earlier on in the series. ‘I want to be liked, I put a lot of pressure on myself fitness wise, body wise, because I want people to think, “Yeah, she looks good, I’d like to look like that”. 

‘I struggled for years with eating disorders, poor self esteem, poor body image, there is still part of me that still struggles with that. I’m a woman in football, it’s hard work, it’s tough, because all people want to do is bring you down.’

Harding, meanwhile, says she feels there is pressure for partners of footballers 'to look a certain way'

Harding, meanwhile, says she feels there is pressure for partners of footballers ‘to look a certain way’

She can be seen at a doctors deciding whether to get 'some skin booting needle injections or some skin tightening'

She can be seen at a doctors deciding whether to get ‘some skin booting needle injections or some skin tightening’

She is then seen laying down receiving treatment, with the 33-year-old discussing her will to 'look good'

She is then seen laying down receiving treatment, with the 33-year-old discussing her will to ‘look good’

Harding, meanwhile, can be seen receiving assistance to change her appearance as she debates what type of facial she wants, torn between ‘some skin booting needle injections or some skin tightening’.

She explains her frustration over Jorginho sharing a photo she accidentally took to his more than three million followers on Instagram, saying that she has to ‘be quite good at taking a joke or our relationship would have been over a long time ago’.

‘I think there’s quite a lot of pressure on partners of football players to look a certain way,’ she says. ‘I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to try and look good.

Harding goes onto open up on the 'really worrying' scenario of girls 'growing up' with modern beauty standards

Harding goes onto open up on the ‘really worrying’ scenario of girls ‘growing up’ with modern beauty standards

‘It annoys me a lot because I’ve got a daughter who is eight years old, and I look at sometime filters and certain things people use, and you can’t even tell they’re using that filter and it completely changes their face.

‘You think, “How are children, girls, going to grow up thinking that’s the beauty standard they need to look like?” It’s actually something really worrying.’

Married To The Game is available exclusively on Prime Video on February 23 



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